Six Nations Breakdown: Young guns show the future is bright

Elsewhere, Scotland finally get a deserved win following a series of close calls

Six Nations Breakdown: Young guns show the future is bright

Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Raw but Ready

Its three games without a win for Ireland in this year's Six Nations, but despite yet another loss, there are positives that can be taken from today's game.

The most glaring of those positives is the three debutantes, Stuart McCloskey, Josh Van Der Flier and Ultan Dillane. 

All three have had breakout seasons for their respective provinces, with the clamour surrounding McCloskey proving the loudest following a string of impressive displays in an Ulster jersey.

After calls for the 6"4 centre to be given his chance in the opening two rounds, an injury to Jared Payne meant the opportunity finally presented itself for the 23 year old, and didn't he take it well?

The Bangor Bulldozer certainly showcased his talents today with a robust display across the park, while his carrying into contact remained a threat during his 64 minutes on the pitch. 

The Ulster centre made 12 carries during a busy shift, beating two defenders and making one clean line break for a total gain of 32 metres. 

If McCloskey is being earmarked as a future star in an Ireland jersey, then so too will be Ultan Dillane after an impressive in the closing stages. 

Described as a 'brute' and 'physical animal' in the build up to this game by the Irish coaching staff, the Connacht lock certainly lived up to the billing during his short time on the pitch. 

Breaking tackles at will, Dillane was the influential force behind Danny Care's yellow card in the closing stages, as he broke the line and combined well Van Der Flier to put the English on the backfoot. 

It would hardly be a surprise if both McCloskey and Dillane were to feature in either of the remaining games following today's performances. 

Van Der Flier too, put in a promising display in Twickenham, and was desperatley unlucky not to have been awarded a try as Ireland looked to pull themselves back into the game.

All three have firmly put their hands up for inclusion against Italy in a fortnight, and following impressive debuts in the cauldron that is Twickenham, they will have done little to quell the hype surrounding them. 

Meanwhile, a player that is thriving even with intense speculation surrounding him is Robbie Henshaw. 

The Leinster-bound centre put in a heavy shift in the midfield, making 101 metres in 12 carries, beating four defenders. 

Vunipola a one man wrecking ball

Billy Vunipola has long been touted as potential world class number 8, and this season he seems to be finally coming of age. 

Consistently the Saracens number 8 pummeled the Irish defense and battered past the Irish gainline from the back of scrums and mauls, as he acted as Eddie Jones' chief ball carrier. 

Following a series of polished performances in the black of Saracens this season, Vunipola delivered his most accomplished performance in an English jersey yet as by far, he was the best player on the park, taking home the Man of the Match accolade for his troubles. 

His impressive shift today included a gain of 96 yards with 18 carries, while he went top of the charts for defenders beaten in this year's championship with 16, tied with George North, with 10 of those coming in this game alone. 

It was another dynamic display from a player fast becoming the premiere number 8 in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Scotland finally win

For nine games, they have threatened to do it without following through, but today Scotland finally ended their long wait for a Six Nations victory.

It is there first victory in the tournament since their 2014 championship win against today's opposition, where they sneaked victory thanks to a last gasp Duncan Weir drop goal.

It was a different story today however, as they put in a cool and composed display to win with style against a dogged Italian challenge. 

At times, they were made to worry as the Italians failed to be dismissed and came back fighting after the Bravehearts rushed into an early lead thanks to two quickfire tries.

Italy never really looked like mounting a serious comeback as they still look short on quality to compete at the highest level. 

Admittedly, Italy remain a poor side and they offered little today to refute that idea, but Scotland played like a team high on confidence, not one lacking a win in eight games. 

Vern Cotter has instilled a new culture within this team that has established confidence that has long been missing from the national side, and that was seen today as twice they were reduced to 14 men, but refused to panic when under the cosh and actually went on to seal the win moments after WP Nel was binned. 

In a wonderfully worked try, the jewel in Scotland's crown produced a sublime piece of skill to send Tommy Seymour over their third try of the day.