Guinness PRO14 takeaways: June Internationals

Andy Baber
17 June 2018

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There was no shortage of drama as another packed weekend of international rugby saw plenty of Guinness PRO14 stars in action as the summer tours resumed.

Leinster's Jonathan Sexton and Tadhg Furlong

Wales completed a successful trip by taking back-to-back victories against Argentina, while Ireland and Italy bounced back to beat Australia and Japan, respectively.

The biggest shock of the weekend came in America, though, where Scotland suffered a surprise loss to USA – their first ever against a tier one country.

Italy start fast to see off Japan

  • Conor O’Shea had made the decision to shift Zebre’s Matteo Minozzi from full-back to wing and bring in Benetton Rugby’s Jayden Hayward in the No.15 jersey.
  • That decision paid off early as it was Hayward’s break that set up the game’s first try which was an all-Benetton affair. He found Seb Negri who in turn fed Tommaso Benvenuti for the score, with Tommaso Allan converting just for good measure.
  • Hayward was influential throughout, racking up 96 metres with ball in hand including a couple of clean breaks, and the whole of the back three was dangerous.
  • Given the late Japanese fightback, that early score proved crucial, with the Benetton full-back playing an important role in the Azzurri success.

Furlong makes his mark in Ireland victory

  • Johnny Sexton’s return to the Ireland starting XV made a big difference to Joe Schmidt’s side in their 26-21 victory over Australia in Melbourne. The Leinster star racked up a 16-point haul as he helped get the green machine back on track.
  • But it was the return of Tadhg Furlong that was the line-up that was the real game changer for Ireland. Furlong was a destructive force in both attack and defence and the Leinster tighthead prop finished with 38 metres from 12 carries, and a dominant scrummaging performance as well as a crucial try in his man of the match display.
  • Ireland will be looking for more of the same next week in Sydney as they go in search of their first series win in the Southern Hemisphere in 39 years.

Rejuvenated Watkin makes amends for Wales

  • After being sin-binned against the Springboks in an unconvincing showing in Washington, Ospreys youngster Owen Watkin produced a performance full of energy and enterprise in Santa Fe as Wales finished their summer tour against Argentina unbeaten.
  • Aled Davies was another player to step up and take his opportunity to impress against the Pumas, providing another strong option for Warren Gatland in the No.9 shirt. While the Ospreys-bound scrum-half didn’t do anything spectacular, his kicking was accurate, his distribution was quick and his defence was strong throughout.
  • Hallam Amos capped off a fine performance from Wales by dotting down a brilliantly worked team try midway through the second half. It was a suitable way to conclude the tour for the Dragons man, who really pressed his credentials for the full-back shirt.

Scotland slip to first defeat against USA

  • It all started so well for Scotland in Houston. Blair Kinghorn crossed the whitewash after just 59 seconds after Glasgow’s Stuart Hogg drew his man and put it on a plate for the Edinburgh winger, but the tourists fell to a 30-29 defeat as USA claimed a historic first win over them.
  • Having scored a hat-trick in the victory against Canada, Glasgow Warriors hooker George Turner was at it again as he helped himself to another try against USA. The rolling maul that proved so effective last weekend worked its magic again, rumbling towards the line before Turner popped up to crash over.
  • There was no doubt who was the star man for the hosts, with AJ MacGinty running the show from fly-half, but Kinghorn was left to rue what might have been after missing a last-gasp kick for victory at the death following a late try for Edinburgh’s Dougie Fife on 84 minutes.


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