Tuesday 27 June 2017

Munster player ratings: Halfback struggles sum up frustrating day for Erasmus' men

22 April 2017; Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster is tackled by Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens during the European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final match between Munster and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
22 April 2017; Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster is tackled by Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens during the European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final match between Munster and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jim Glennon

Here is how Jim Glennon rated the Munster players after their 26-10 loss to Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-final.

15 Simon Zebo    6.5

His form in red has been stellar all season long and he was once more to the fore. Consistently threatened when in possession, possibly Munster’s most dangerous, but defensive frailties were again manifest.

14 Andrew Conway 7.5

Has made serious strides this season and this performance was typical of what has gone before. Hard-working and close to error-free, he was strong under the high ball, from both sides; much-improved player.

13 Jaco Taute 5.5

A key cog for Erasmus and his physicality and abrasiveness have been central to Munster’s attacking efforts. Failed to impose himself in intensely-competitive midfield; substituted after 55 minutes.

12 Rory Scannell 6

Another emerging Munster ‘rookie’ this season; grossly under-utilised as a second distributor and kicking option outside Bleyendall, and was another casualty of the superbly-organised Saracens defence.

11 Keith Earls 7

Like Zebo, his Lions omission may have stung but he carried his Six Nations form into this one. Always hungry, he brought a real physicality to his match-up with Chris Ashton and carried into, and through, contact strongly.

10 Tyler Bleyendall 6

An understated presence usually but was effectively shut out by the claustrophobic Saracens defence and never managed to assert himself in the manner required of a game-managing out-half.

9 Duncan Williams 6.5

The biggest game of his career to date and, having stepped up against Toulouse in the quarter-final, did so again. A couple of lapses but kicked well generally opposite one of the best around in Wigglesworth.

1 Dave Kilcoyne 6.5

Scrum was key focus for both sides and despite conceding a couple of penalties, put in a reasonable shift against a tough operator in Koch. His carrying is a key weapon. Effective if not subtle.

2 Niall Scannell 6.5

Saracens’ line-out threats of Itoje, Kruis, and Rhodes would’ve had Scannell in their sights from a long way out, and the pressure was on. A couple of over-throws, but, a solid overall game, composed and determined.

3 John Ryan 7

Like so many, has matured immeasurably this season — this was another typically unassuming and effective performance. Mako Vunipola proved a handful but was managed well; contributed effectively in the loose too.

4 Donnacha Ryan 7

The type of occasion, and opposition, that he relishes. Against Itoje and Kruis his workrate and physicality were absolutely essential and he matched his opponents with his intensity in most facets.

5 Billy Holland 7

A big opportunity against a top-class pairing and he was visibly up for it. A leader from early on and what’s lacking in terms of natural athleticism is made up for in application and commitment. Solid line-out option too.

6 Peter O’Mahony 7.5

If Stander catches the eye, O’Mahony is the heartbeat. A constant thorn in the side of any Saracen in play and at the breakdown and characteristically impressive at the line-out. Outstanding workrate and leadership.

8 CJ Stander 7.5

His clash with Billy Vunipola was always going to be box-office and it seemed that CJ was at times met by most of the Sarries pack. His ability to sustain the intensity of his carries over the full 80 continues to impress.

7 Tommy O’Donnell 7

Up against an underrated but challenging operator in Wray, he played like a true traditional openside. One of the few Munster forwards whose natural athleticism was more than a match for his opposite number.

Rassie Erasmus 8

A European semi-final, if offered last August would have been grabbed without hesitation. Extracts the maximum from his players — the acid test of any coach. A remarkable season for the South African.

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