Sunday 15 December 2019

Jim Glennon’s player ratings: South Africa v Ireland

A dejected Rhys Ruddock of Ireland after the Castle Lager Incoming Series 2nd Test game between South Africa and Ireland at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
A dejected Rhys Ruddock of Ireland after the Castle Lager Incoming Series 2nd Test game between South Africa and Ireland at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jim Glennon

Ireland surrendered a 16-point half-time lead to lose 32-26 at Ellis Park as South Africa produced a stunning second-half performance to level the series. Here's how the Irish players rated.

Jared Payne: 8

At his most comfortable in green last week and again exuded calmness throughout what was a much tougher day. Outstanding hands, feet and rugby brain, rapidly establishing himself as our top full-back.

Andrew Trimble: 7.5

What you see is what you get. Unglamorous and unfashionable maybe, but not in any way ineffective. Defensively sound, the ever-willing and highly-skilled chaser has an energy and wiry physicality.

Robbie Henshaw: 7.5

The odd man out in an all-Ulster back-unit, but one of it’s fundamental components. His measured physicality is an enormous asset, and he’s growing into the outside-centre position. Will be needed next week.

Stuart Olding: 6.5

A much-anticipated outing for possibly one of our most naturally creative players. Coped well for the most part but, as with most, succumbed to altitude and increased Springbok physicality in second half.

Craig Gilroy: 7

An exciting selection, always looks dangerous with ball in hand. Lingering doubts remain however around defensive frailties often cited as reason for previous non-selection. Expect Earls to return next week.

Paddy Jackson: 8

Continued his most impressive season to date. His all-round game constantly improves, his game-management particularly. Has really announced himself internationally on this tour.

Conor Murray: 8.5

Ratings become repetitive with Murray such are his consistent performance levels. The team’s heartbeat in the absence of Sexton, he performed his basic functions to his usual high level, and his work-rate was top-class.

Jack McGrath: 8.5

Possibly the Irish ‘player of the season’. Totally comfortable in the scrum and his characteristic industrious efficiency in general play was highly productive. An all-round international quality loose-head.

Rory Best: 8.5

After a tough Six Nations, we’re now seeing his best as skipper. Quietly effective in everything he did. His scrum and line-out functioned smoothly and he was outstanding at ruck and maul too.

Tadhg Furlong: 8.5

Biggest test of his still-fledgling career — ‘The Beast’ in Ellis Park is one of the toughest debuts possible; never flinched though, and offered plenty around the field too. A highly auspicious first start.

Devin Toner: 8

Had one of his best games in green last week and, if not quite reaching those lofty heights, was again a key man. Under pressure, the line-out fired and he never shyed from taking responsibility himself.

Quinn Roux: 6

His surprising selection in the travelling squad told us that Schmidt sees something in him, so his start was no surprise. Nothing in his 50 minute shift will have convinced his many doubters however.

Iain Henderson: 8.5

Simply great to watch. The natural physicality he brings to the game is immense, and his ability to go toe-to-toe with the home pack was again impressive. Will continue to get better — an exciting prospect in itself.

Rhys Ruddock: 8

His selection with Heaslip and Henderson provided one of the meanest looking Irish back-rows, and it was needed. Another to relish the physicality — his carrying and input at breakdown were especially impressive.

Jamie Heaslip: 9

Has hit a rich vein of form in recent months and seems to relish weekly everything about the job at hand. Once again went about his task with a minimum of fuss and his trademark unrivalled workrate. Massive effort.

Joe Schmidt: 7.5

Changes were expected, if not quite to the extent effected. Squad depth is undoubtedly being developed, possibly to unprecedented levels. Defence coach Farrell’s input must be acknowledged too.

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