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Harri Ackerman

Harri Ackerman is challenged by Fintan Gunne of Ireland

Ackerman praises pack effort against Ireland

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Wales Under 20 centre Hari Ackerman paid tribute to his inexperienced pack after the seven new caps went toe to toe with Six Nations champions Ireland at Stadiwm CSM on Friday evening.

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The defending champions began their defence of the Six Nations crown with a 27-44 victory but not before they had to overcome a halftime 15-14 deficit.

The Wales defence put their bodies on the line on numerous occasions close to their own line as the men in green turned the screw and Ackerman is confident the Welsh pack will grow in confidence after an encouraging display against Ireland.

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“I thought the forwards put in a hell of a shift,” said the Dragons centre. “The driving maul five metres out, quite often teams score from there but our forwards really dug in and played for the badge.

“I think we showed what we can do in some parts, going into halftime with a lead, you can’t ask for more than that but at U20s rugby you want to keep it up for 80 minutes.

“We need to go into Monday and look at key shifts of momentum and try and capitalise on them against Scotland.”

Ackerman’s partnership with fellow midfielder Louie Hennessey caught the eye with the pair often putting each other in to space with deft touches and both were solid in defence. The pair are no strangers, as they played for Wales at U18 level and the 18-year-old is eager for the partnership to continue.

“I play with him through the U18s Six Nations and I think we are developing something really good and I’m looking forward to trying to play off him a bit more. He’s a really good player, and runs lovely lines,” said Ackerman.

The midfield duo proved a real handful for the Irish, making 116m between them in attack, while sharing 20 carries in an action packed game.

“Our attacking game is coming on to be fair,” said Ackerman. “Byron [Hayward] always says play through even in training, play through and try and get an off-load and I think that showed throughout the game and showed with two or three off-loads in our second try.

“Everyone showed pride against Ireland, even when the game was over we still tried hard. It felt like we were a lot nearer than the final score-line to be fair. When we were down to 14 men and scored that really gave us a boost so there is plenty to be proud of.”

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