Comment & Analysis

Saturday 26 July 2014

Ireland player ratings

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Published 17/03/2014|02:30

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Rob Kearney

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The heart-attack inducing kick in the final throes aside, he had another strong game with ball in hand. Won't like being beaten by Yoann Huget in the air, but a standout candidate for player of the tournament.

Andrew Trimble

Dropped by three Ireland coaches, but kept coming back for more, it will be hard to leave the Ulsterman out after this try-scoring, hard- running and defensively strong display.

Brian O'Driscoll

Mathieu Bastareaud caused all sorts of bother and outshone the departing legend, but O'Driscoll's fight never left him as he tackled and carried willingly all day for a fairytale ending.

Gordon D'Arcy

Deserves the thanks of those around him, the Wexford man has the least rewarding job in Joe Schmidt's team and he carries it out tirelessly. Nothing glamorous, but a selfless effort.

Dave Kearney

Didn't see as much ball as Trimble, but his defensive work was once again strong and his shoot-up forced Pascal Pape into the forward pass that saved Ireland.

Jonathan Sexton

Ireland held on after he missed two kickable efforts, but his return of 17 points is hard to argue with. Concussed, but unbowed, he ran his backline well, even if the kicking did get a bit wobbly around half-time.

Conor Murray

The scrum-half led from the front in an excellent display as he set the tempo throughout and created Trimble's try brilliantly. One black mark for the box-kick that invited France into the game.

Cian Healy

Lucky to stay on the pitch after a head-first clearout on Louis Picamoles, but Healy was outstanding otherwise, carrying the game to France and dominating the scrum.

Rory Best

Consistently performing at the highest level, Best delivered out of touch and in the scrum, even if he wasn't as prominent in the loose as earlier in the tournament.

Mike Ross

His presence was missed when he went off as the French went after Marty Moore. His poor knock-on apart, the tighthead remains integral to Irish rugby after dominating two opponents.

Devin Toner

Quieter than in previous games, but another big 80 minutes of Test rugby under his belt and a huge contributor to Ireland's Championship.

Paul O'Connell

His best game of the series by a country mile, Ireland needed their captain and he stood tall. How he was the first to arrive after Trimble and O'Driscoll's break is hard to fathom.

Peter O'Mahony

Ireland's best player of the opening games was a muted presence in Paris as the hamstring injury he carried into the game took the wind out of his sails. Played his part.

Chris Henry

With Sean O'Brien to come back, the Ulsterman is on borrowed time, but no one can take this day away from him. Brilliant in defence, his out-the-back pass for Sexton's first try was outstanding.

Jamie Heaslip

Under appreciated in his own time, the durable Ireland No 8 outshone Damien Chouly by some distance and played a big part in Ireland's win.

Replacements

Schmidt has been criticised for picking non-starting Leinster players on his bench, but his 'closers' delivered.

Iain Henderson (7) and Ian Madigan (7) combined to force Jean-Marc Doussain backwards in the closing seconds, while Eoin Reddan (6) and Fergus McFadden (6) kept the pace up.

Jack McGrath (6), Sean Cronin (6) and Marty Moore (5) struggled in the scrum.

Joe Schmidt

Needed a slice of luck to get over the line, but deserved it after a stunning transform- ation in his first season in charge. We may be losing O'Driscoll, but the possibilities seem endless with the Kiwi at the helm.

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