Thursday 13 December 2018

Irish player ratings after historic win over the All Blacks - One player achieves top marks after the performance of his life

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland following his side's victory in the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton of Ireland following his side's victory in the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Des Berry

It was another famous night at the Aviva Stadium as Ireland secured a 16-9 victory over the All Blacks. Here's how the Irish players rated.

ROB KEARNEY: Showed his worth with his first touch and rescuing Barrett’s teaser into the corner. He was inches away from a try, forced a spill out of McKenzie, countered for metres, bounced Barrett to touch for a 5-metre lineout. Lucky to escape the bin – 9.

KEITH EARLS: The narrative for the last two seasons has been about his rising leadership profile, playing bigger and stronger than ever. He just did what he always seems to do, the right thing for the team - 8.

GARRY RINGROSE: The timing and tenacity into Barrett for a knock-on illustrated the sound judgement and excellent execution of his defence. He whipped Read’s legs away in a one-on-one, slid a great grubber and demonstrated class in almost every action - 9.

BUNDEE AKI: The inside centre was willing, if not quite always able to stamp his authority. He tidied up loose ball more than once and had Sexton’s shoulder in defence. There was also a growth in the understanding with Ringrose - 8.

JACOB STOCKDALE: Grew into role in the air, eventually ripping one away from Ben Smith and tearing upfield. Retrieval of second-half kick-off from Retallick was stunning. Got away with one misjudged chip and had the temperament to make good on another one - 9.

JONATHAN SEXTON: For such a tempestuous character, the out-half is almost always the calm in the eye of the storm blowing up. It was the same again as he pulled, probed and prompted with every look, pass and shift in the game - 9.

KIERAN MARMION: The first box kick was a beauty. He could have done with better protection from some of his follow-up work in this department. There was one crucial recovery of a counter and proof positive the Connacht half-back belongs - 8.

CIAN HEALY: This was one the loose-head had been waiting for because there is no better way to show you are back to and beyond your previous best. The swiping hand-off and footwork were handy instruments - 9.

RORY BEST: There was an early involvement in an unexpected wide area followed by two exquisite throws. A lost ball resulted in a Barrett equaliser and put the ball on the floor to release pressure. He just kept attacking the rucks relentlessly - 8.

TADHG FURLONG: The big men would have to carry very big to make it happen and hit rucks like an articulated lorry. Oh yeah, not to mention bully the bouncer Tu’inukuafe in the scrum and pick up loose balls like a magnet - 9.

JAMES RYAN: He took the first lineout and careered forward on his first two carries, then drove Retallick back. He is one of those rare lock forwards who can take the ball on the angle to find space where there looks to be none - 9.

DEVIN TONER: The kick was claimed with authority and his front-foot presence in defence was greater than expected. He has found the knack for bring in the right position to receive the ball late into his career - 9.

PETER O’MAHONY: The flanker carried the emotion of the national anthem straight into battle, ruling the airways and taking more than one body-rocking collision to continue to ‘stand up and fight’ even when he stooped to conquer at the ruck. Snatched a try from Smith and a wonder turnover - 10.

CJ STANDER: He carried like set cement and raised the roof with a poach to lift the siege early on. He surged over without getting the ball down. That didn’t stop him from hitting it up for rewards measured in inches - 9.

JOSH VAN DER FLIER: The accuracy of his work and the ferocity with which he carries out instructions from on-high were commendable and hazardous to his self-preservation. He was remarkable in how he bowled over defenders in the close-quarter action - 9.

COACH.

JOE SCHMIDT: The terrific aggression and accuracy of Ireland’s first defensive series set the tone for a performance that was pitched to perfection. Everything was in place. It was up to the players to do what the coach couldn’t, execute the plan - 10.

REPLACEMENTS

JACK MCGRATH (52 minutes) - 8

JORDAN LARMOUR (66 minutes) - 8

JOEY CARBERY (77 minutes) - 7

LUKE MCGRATH (59  minutes) - 8

SEAN CRONIN (65 minutes) -7

ANDREW PORTER (65 minutes) -7

IAIN HENDERSON (62 minutes) - 8

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