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Where super Stockdale ranks in Ireland try charts after unprecedented scoring spree

 

By Jonathan Bradley

A year ago, Jacob Stockdale was on what was then the best try-scoring run of his short professional career. In the five games Ulster played during the Six Nations window, the young wing banked five in five games.

With the province's other wings, Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe and Craig Gilroy, all having represented Ireland during the championship, it was seen as a chance for the then 20-year-old to really lay down a marker to be selected ahead of them for the rest of the campaign, one that he seized and never looked back. Little did we know that was just him getting started.

Twelve months on, and he's scored more tries for Ireland than Trevor Ringland, Mike Gibson, Simon Zebo or Gordon ­D'Arcy. Indeed, with his latest brace against Scotland, after 10 scores in just eight caps, there are only 20 men in the history of rugby on this island who can claim to have crossed the whitewash more often in the green jersey.

Social media is already flush with, presumably light-hearted, chatter that Brian O'Driscoll, who scored one try in his first eight before ending up with 46 in 133 outings, is under threat at the very top of the Irish scoring charts.

While such talk is still very premature, thanks to a third intercept try of his championship, followed by a nice finish after good play by fellow tyro Garry Ringrose, it was still another remarkable day for the Ballynahinch clubman on Saturda.

Six Nations records

It was a performance that saw Stockdale match the record for tries in a single championship. England's Will Greenwood and Chris Ashton, as well as Wales' Shane Williams, all bagged six in the same campaign and Stockdale would stand alone if he were to score just once more against England in Twickenham on Saturday.

After Saturday, he already holds the Irish mark which previously stood at five, a record first set by Jack Arigho in 1928. Just 20-years-old at the time, the Leinsterman scored two tries against France on his debut in Belfast, and despite playing in only two more games, ended the campaign with another brace against Wales and solo strike against England. He would finish his international career with 16 caps and six tries.

That tally of five scores was matched by Stockdale's Ulster team-mate Tommy Bowe back in 2012, the Monaghan native scoring once against Wales, twice against Italy and doubling up again against France in Paris. The two-time Lion, who retires at the end of the year, ended his Ireland career against Wales in last season's Six Nations with his 30 tries in 69 games second only to O'Driscoll.

104 year record matched

And that wasn't the only record Stockdale brought up with his latest two scores, his three braces in consecutive games during a Six Nations is a feat not seen since 1914, first achieved by England's Cyril Lowe.

With ever-increasing frequency, Stockdale has been asked to his explain his remarkable try-scoring feats. If he knows the secret, he's not willing to reveal it just yet.

"Like I keep saying the ball keeps popping up my way," he said in the aftermath of his latest feats. "I felt like I got in a good position for the intercept and it was a great pass from Garry (for the second)."

One thing seems certain, there's plenty more to come from Ulster's young star. His potential is awesome.

Belfast Telegraph

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