Sunday 15 December 2019

Jim Glennon's player ratings: South Africa v Ireland

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jim Glennon

Jim Glennon's player ratings for Ireland's tie with South Africa

Tiernan O’Halloran     6

Big day for the highly-regarded Connemara man, and big shoes to fill. Had little chance to shine, clearly affected by heavy landing in early aerial collision, leading to his withdrawal at half-time.

Andrew Trimble     7

The only-three quarter to start all three tests, continued his good form. Physicality was clear to see, even in the face of an opposing defence which had learned from previous games. Contributed well to a good series effort.

Luke Marshall     7

Having impressed at 12 a fortnight ago, the move to 13 was a challenge. The physicality of the home outside backs was a major factor but he stood up well, showing some nice touches on the ball too.

Stuart Olding     6

Never really imposed himself on the game last week and there was only a slight early improvement in this regard. Yet to settle at this level — footballing ability evident, but handicapped by unsettled midfield.

Keith Earls    6.5

As with Trimble on the other flank, once again looked strong; limited opportunity with ball, but impressive all-round game. Constantly eager to impose himself, if at times excessively so — not helped by O’Halloran’s injury.

Paddy Jackson   7.5

Definitely the silver lining to the cloud of Sexton’s injury-enforced absence. Wavered with the boot at times last week but eradicated that for the most part, while again managing the game well. A vital series personally.

Conor Murray     7.5

Continues to impress and was again a leader in Sexton’s absence — his partnership with Jackson was seamless. Boot was an asset as usual, as was his service to Jackson while engaging opposing back-row.

Jack McGrath     7.5

One of the players of the series, and of the season, for Ireland. Largely comfortable at the scrum and characteristically active in the loose, he was once again impressive. Will relish a tilt at the Lions squad next season.

Rory Best     7.5

Firmly established as the squad’s leader, and in good personal form too. His line-out again functioned reasonably well against one of the most effective around; like McGrath, a key contributor in the loose.

Mike Ross     5.5

Will be glad that marathon season has finally run it’s course. Severely tested again by ‘Beast’ at scrum-time but hung in with typical bravery until replaced by Furlong on 50 minutes. Remains, and will remain, a key squad man.

Iain Henderson     8

One of a rare breed — an Irish athlete capable of successfully mixing it with the very biggest around. His energy and aggression around the pitch are striking and his partnership with Toner is now well-consolidated.

Devin Toner     7.5

With Best and Heaslip, comprises the pack’s ‘brains trust’. Managed the line-out well and contributed strongly in defence. Achieved new levels of consistently high performance on this tour.

CJ Stander     7

Understandably revved-up for his return and was effective, and controlled too, possibly excessively so. His carries were less frequent than anticipated, and well covered. Good performance in difficult circumstances.

Jamie Heaslip     8

His consistency and workrate continue at remarkable levels. Nothing glamorous, but hard yards here and there on multiple occasions over 80 minutes do accumulate. Some of his best performances in green on this tour.

Jordi Murphy     7

If still seen by most as a ‘mere’ reserve, has been highly effective on his two appearances. Went about his work assiduously, being ever-present at the breakdown. Significant player in area of real depth for Schmidt.

Joe Schmidt     7.5

Rotated his team for the second Test at altitude with more than one eye on this crucial return to sea-level. Injury-enforced changes appeared disruptive, with some confusion evident. A positive few weeks overall.

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