Ireland player ratings: Three earn 9/10 as a number of stars stake claim for starting berth against the All Blacks
Ireland ran in eight tries as they put Conor O'Shea's Italy to the sword in a 54-7 victory at Soldier Field in Chicago. Here's how the Irish players rated.
JORDAN LARMOUR - 9
The 21-year-old is always at his best when on the ball, unlocking Italy for Luke McGrath’s try, a keen eye for a wayward pass leading to his first international try, fizzing footwork earning his second and his hat-trick.
ANDREW CONWAY - 7
In many ways, the Blackrock boy-to-man is the best example for Larmour to replicate in transforming into a master of the basics. He came off his wing looking for work and took the high ball in traffic.
GARRY RINGROSE - 7
The smooth-moving outside centre was sharp from the off, and was denied a swift try by Giammarioli’s tap tackle and Campagnaro’s hustle. He never forced the play and took his one try chance clinically.
BUNDEE AKI - 8
The direct carrying, so often left to workhorse Robbie Henshaw, was his mainstay. He used his footwork to find soft shoulders, stuck his head into many rucks, was eager for work in defence and even created Ringrose’s try.
JACOB STOCKDALE - 7
The first involvement was good for 40 metres, his second for a sweet offload. Canna insisted in sending the restarts his way. There has been clear progress in the air, but not such certainty over his defensive instincts.
JOEY CARBERY - 7
The natural gifts as a ball player make it tempting to wait and see what the defence gives. He soaked too much in the tackle. He showed his skills with a left-footed clearance and five from five from the ground.
LUKE McGRATH - 7
The scrumhalf arrived at the ruck quickly and got the ball away smartly enough. The positive support lines were rewarded with his second international try and his bravery in defence was never in question.
JACK McGRATH - 8
The loosehead was the only starter from Chicago in 2016. He was rock-solid in his basics, super alert to nab Braam Steyn on a deceptive inside ball and refused to fall for Carla Canna’s dummy.
NIALL SCANNELL - 7
The throwback Munster hooker was eager for inches and prominent as a latch onto the primary carrier. He looks most comfortable in the trenches, throwing straight and accurate, scrummaging strongly.
ANDREW PORTER - 8
Scrummaged with authority in his second start this season. There was almost a superman try, diving over a pile of forwards. His power was helpful in removing bodies at the ruck and poaching a penalty.
TADHG BEIRNE - 9
He reached for Scannell’s lineout and got around in support to shake off weak tackles for his first international try in a perfect example of his work rate. He was back for his second from a stunning running line.
QUINN ROUX - 7
The solid scrummaging and mauling work of the South African big man are his cornerstones and not exactly obvious to the eye. He looked comfortable on the ball, a lovely long kick called back for a previous infringement.
RHYS RUDDOCK - 9
The close-in driving has always been a hallmark. He took a sweet line in attack at one point and forced a spill out of Steyn at Ireland’s post. He then seized on a loose pass to set up the attack for Beirne’s second.
JOSH VAN DER FLIER - 7
There is none more dedicated to nailing down the details demanded. He offered to truck the ball up in the front line, was a defensive security blanket at the tail of the lineout, giving away one uncharacteristic penalty.
JACK CONAN - 7
The ball-busting carries are the bedrock of his arsenal. He showed up early in the wide channel and punched a hole ahead of Beirne’s first try. He revelled at close quarters, getting off the back of the scrum in a hurry.
Replacements: Sean Cronin (8), Dave Kilcoyne (8), Finlay Bealham (7), Devin Toner (7), Jordi Murphy (7), John Cooney (7), Ross Byrne (7), Will Addison (6)
JOE SCHMIDT - 8
The death by a thousand cuts style of Ireland’s play is based around keeping the ball through low-risk continuity. It was noticeable how the players focused on their jobs and eschewed the lure of the offload.