Sunday 21 December 2014

Pictures: Ireland Player Ratings

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Rob Kearney 8/10

One of the most impressive individual Irish displays against a top-ranked rugby nation in some time. Kearney was irrepressible in the air, but loose kick allowed French momentum before Fofana's try.

Tommy Bowe 8/10

His intercept in the early throes offered the belief that Ireland could taste victory here in Paris, as well as presenting to France the clear and present danger to their attack of a rushing defence.

Keith Earls 7/10

Was helped by the fact that Aurelien Rougerie had the proverbial stinker in the French midfield. Earls was not as centrally involved in phased play as he would have liked and rarely looked like creating.

Gordon D'Arcy 6/10

Inexplicably dropped the ball in the 68th minute as Ireland probed for a historic win during a pivotal period of attacking play in the scoring zone, cueing much hilarity from the French crowd. A frustrating day.

Andrew Trimble 6/10

Isolated by Kearney's sole error -- the long kick to Clement Poitrenaud, which led to France's second-half try -- but he could have done better to stem the counter. Badly positioned in defence at times.

Jonathan Sexton 7/10

Suffered a horrendous early miss, but recovered his composure. Brilliant defensively, but game management imploded in third quarter. Did not make himself available for possible winning drop-goal.

Conor Murray 6/10

Will always have nightmares after this first visit to the Stade de France after suffering a horrendous second-half injury, cruelly ironic as it seemed likely that he was soon going to be substituted anyway.

Cian Healy 6/10

Clattered Vincent Clerc early on to indicate to France that Ireland would be in their faces and did well on the first Irish put-in. Lucky not to be yellowed for 'lazy' running and the penalty allowed France to level.

Rory Best 7/10

Had an unbelievably intense game in defence and attack, but sadly the glaring line-out overthrow when Ireland were pushing for the victory in the final quarter will overshadow much of his good work.

Mike Ross 7/10

Bloodied but unbowed. As the French scrum threatened to over-run Ireland, Ross and scrum expert Greg Feek tidied up the Irish engagement and managed to reverse the worrying trend.

Donncha O'Callaghan 6/10

Must now make way for Donnacha Ryan as Kidney prepares to freshen up the squad for the visit of the Scots next week. Managed a decent carry which resulted in the pressure forcing an Irish penalty in the first half.

Paul O'Connell 8/10

Another immense performance in the loose, but inevitable questions will swirl in the aftermath as to how much better he could have influenced the management of the game in the final quarter.

Stephen Ferris 8/10

Held up centre Aurelien Rougerie in the opening minutes to force a scrum and from there to the finish never looked back as he delivered a power-packed display of immense physicality.

Sean O'Brien 7/10

More prominent than before. Ignoring the philosophical debate about the balance of the back-row, he was better defensively and it was his turnover that allowed Ireland to break for Bowe's second try.

Jamie Heaslip 6/10

Once more mixed the apparently sublime and the ridiculous, fundamentally parsed by the final few minutes, when his excellent turnover was mocked by an insipid knock-on which killed the Irish momentum.

Declan Kidney 7/10

Could have emerged with a second significant success to his name in the last six months, but instead arrived back in Dublin with doubts still hovering around the long-term progress of this team.

REPLACEMENTS

Donnacha Ryan 5/10 - Replaced O'Callaghan in the 58th minute and seems certain to snaffle his first start of the campaign against Scotland
Eoin Reddan 5/10 - As was the case last week, his arrival added zip to the Irish attack when he arrived in the 59th minute.
Peter O'Mahony 5/10 - Four into three won't go for next week as it now seems almost certain that one of Ireland's back-row is set for the chop.
Ronan O'Gara 5/10 - Possibly should have come for earlier for D'Arcy, thus allowing a two-pronged drop-goal option.
Fergus McFadden - Not on long enough to be rated.
Tom Court - Not on long enough to be rated.
Sean Cronin - Not on long enough to be rated.

David Kelly rates the Irish players' performances against France

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