Sunday 23 November 2014

Ireland players ratings

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ROB KEARNEY 8/10

Another classy outing. Not as dominant in the air as usual but very dangerous running ball back, and playing off their full-back should be a concerted attacking focus for Ireland.

TOMMY BOWE 7/10

After a few ropey moments against the Welsh, this was much more like it from Bowe. Ran fast and hard all afternoon, earning two more tries in the process.

KEITH EARLS 7/10

Impossible task of trying to be the 'new Brian O'Driscoll' but Earls put in a good shift in midfield, looking sharp in possession, making his tackles and taking his try very well.

GORDON D'ARCY 7/10

D'Arcy's best performance in an Ireland shirt for some time, including a fantastic line break and intelligent inter-play. France will pose a different test but this form is encouraging.

ANDREW TRIMBLE 7/10

Typical full-hearted showing from the Ulster winger, brave under the high ball and strong on the charge, and capped by his lung-bursting try.

JONATHAN SEXTON 8/10

This was the Lions Test-worthy performance everyone knew Sexton had in him. Nailing his place kicks makes a massive difference, and confidence flowed through his game.

CONOR MURRAY 6/10

An easy target afterwards due to upturn in tempo when he went off but, while some of his distribution was laboured, Murray put himself about physically and covered well in defence.

CIAN HEALY 7/10

Took a heavy blow but not a bother to him. Didn't have Castrogiovanni to counter and scrums went well, while he took on his customary quota of ball in the loose.

One underthrow in the line-out, on a questionable call to the back with the Italians lining up, but another decent, industrious outing for the hooker.

MIKE ROSS 7/10

His value was shown on 48 minutes when a massive shunt won Ireland a penalty and irresistible momentum. Not a major figure in loose play but singled out by his captain for his close-quarters work.

DONNCHA O'CALLAGHAN 7/10

Donnacha Ryan's form is hard to ignore but O'Callaghan is doing everything that is asked of him and put in another good shift before making way for his rival.

PAUL O'CONNELL 8/10

Another immense display, as good as any he has produced for his country. Last season's injury break has rejuvenated the second-row and he will relish the Paris challenge next weekend.

STEPHEN FERRIS 7/10

The pick of the Ireland back-row, Ferris produced a performance of bristling intensity against a quality Italian unit. Worrying knock to his knee late on but carried on -- his well-being is crucial for Paris.

SEAN O'BRIEN 6/10

As willing as ever but O'Brien is not hitting the high levels of impact he reached last year. An ongoing problem with his hips cannot be helping.

JAMIE HEASLIP 6/10

Heaslip's class is unquestionable and he did some extremely good things, with several powerful surges, but, overall, he was outplayed by the remarkable Sergio Parisse.

REPLACEMENTS

EOIN REDDAN 8/10
(Murray 54)

PETER O'MAHONY 7/10
(O'Brien 59)

DONNACHA RYAN 8/10
(O'Callaghan 59)

FERGUS McFADDEN 7/10
(Earls 68)

SEAN CRONIN 7/10
(Best 70)

TOM COURT 7/10
(Healy 70)

RONAN O'GARA 7/10
(D'Arcy 70)

DECLAN KIDNEY 8/10

Has been criticised for his use of the bench in the past but got it spot on here -- including widening his options for a hectic schedule by trying Sexton and Bowe in the centre.

Hugh Farrelly rates the Irish performances against Italy

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