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Stockdale and Conway seize their chance for Ireland

Rich Dore

11 Nov 2017

The autumn internationals kicked off with a bang for the men of the Guinness PRO14, with crucial victories for Italy, Scotland and Ireland.

A new-look Wales side pushed Australia hard and showed promising signs for the rest of November, with two tries scored in their defeat to the Wallabies.

In case you missed the action, we took a look at which Guinness PRO14 players shone on an excellent day of rugby.

Ireland 38 South Africa 3

Joe Schmidt’s men stormed their way to a record-breaking win over South Africa, their biggest win ever against the southern-hemisphere side, and it was a result led by Guinness PRO14 stars.

In a game which may have marked the changing of the guards for Ireland’s wing positions, Munster wideman Andrew Conway and Ulster flyer Jacob Stockdale both got themselves on the scoresheet.

Veteran Ulster hooker Rory Best also lived up to his name with several crucial turnovers and CJ Stander acted as a wrecking ball against the country of his birth.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee spoke in the run up to the game about dealing with an aerial bombardment, but it seems that facing up to Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton’s pinpoint accuracy on the pitch is an altogether different matter, as South Africa never looked comfortable fielding their kicks.

Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock came on as a back-row replacement and caught the eye with his score, as did another Ulster hooker – Rob Herring.

Wales 21 Australia 29

Warren Gatland’s side may have gone down to a 13th straight defeat to their nemesis but this autumn is all about development and plenty of players grabbed their chance.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his superlative Guinness PRO14 form, winger Steff Evans grabbed his third try in as many games for his country and Dragons utility man Hallam Amos stole a late consolation.

Evans’ try was a thing of beauty, as Jonathan Davies made a trademark break before Scarlet Gareth Davies found a gap and Leigh Halfpenny delivered the final pass to the young winger.

Scarlets full-back Halfpenny also kicked three penalties and a conversion but his club team-mate Davies was unfortunately helped off injured on the stroke of half-time.

Italy 19 Fiji 10

Benetton Rugby fly-half Ian McKinley opened his account for Italy as he came on as a substitute to convert a nervy penalty at the death, putting the result beyond Fiji’s reach.

McKinley replaced playmaker Carlo Canna in the 62nd minute, with the Zebre stand-off having kicked 11 points before his removal.

Benetton prop Simone Ferrari crossed for his first-ever Test try in the first half of the game, and New Zealand-born full-back Jayden Hayward gave an assured display as Italy’s last line of defence.

Scotland 44 Samoa 38

The crowds at Murrayfield were certainly entertained but the scoreline was perhaps a little too close for Gregor Townsend’s men.

Glasgow Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg got himself on the scoresheet in just the second minute as he collected club team-mate Tommy Seymour’s long boot downfield.

Another Glasgow man, Huw Jones, bagged himself a try with a strong finish in the corner, but Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally perhaps grabbed the headlines with his double.

In a result forged by the Warriors, centre Alex Dunbar and substitute Peter Horne both touched down for Scotland, and fly-half Finn Russell added 12 points with the boot.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie