Saturday 16 December 2017

'Josh van der Flier could be a 2017 Lion' - How the Irish players rated in their 21-9 defeat to the All Blacks

Josh van der Flier of Ireland is tackled by Dane Coles of New Zealand defence during the Autumn International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Josh van der Flier of Ireland is tackled by Dane Coles of New Zealand defence during the Autumn International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

John Brennan

Ireland bossed territory and possession but failed to repeat their Chicago heroics as they lost 21-9 to an ill-disciplined New Zealand in Dublin. Check out the player ratings below:


Rob Kearney- Took down the high ball as he always does, Kearney laboured to make a breakthrough with ball in hand.

Simon Zebo- Always in the action, Zebo tried his best to penetrate the Black wall with some very tasty runs and feints. 8

Rob Henshaw- Off the pitch after his first tackle,  Henshaw was out cold on the Aviva pitch for a few minutes. Not on long enough for a mark

Jared Payne- Defended well, but Payne always seemed to struggle to get past the opposing centres. 5

Andrew Trimble- Worked hard, but just like most of the back-line, getting past a Kiwi was hard work for Trimble last night. 5

Johnny Sexton- Off after just a few minutes and must now be doubtful to face the Aussies next Saturday. 6

Conor Murray- Badly caught out for Barrett’s first half try, but Murray was full of life and effort. 7

Jack McGrath- Sound in the scrum and he worked hard around the pitch, always looking to go around an opponent. 8

Rory Best- Accurate in the line out and solid in the scrum, the skipper forced a couple of turnovers too. 7

Tadhg Furlong- Carried brilliantly in this one and Furlong is now extablished as Ireland’s top No 3. 8

Devin Toner- Had a good evening in the line-out. Toner didn’t let the two experienced New Zealanders get the better of him. 7

Donnacha Ryan- Carried superbly as Ireland’s first option to barge into the Kiwi defence and set the ball up for others. 8

CJ Stander- Ireland’s South African was carrying like a demon before his unfortunate departure to another tackle that led with the shoulder. 8

Sean O’Brien- How we’ve missed ‘the Tullow Tank’ for most of the last year in a green shirt. Top notch against the New Zealanders. 8

Jamie Heaslip- Superb for Ireland all through. He carried, he tackled and the Number Eight never gave up in the face of the NZ pack. 9

Paddy Jackson- Uncomfortable after he came on for Sexton for a while, but the Ulster man settled into it. 7

Garry Ringrose- A big day for his family as Ringrose got to play well against one  of the big sides. 7

Josh van der Flier- Played really well as Stander’s stand-in in a strong Irish pack. Some terrific line breaks. Are you watching Warren Gatland? 9

Ian Henderson - Hugely physical on his introduction and used his quick feet very well. 7

Cian Healy - One nightmare pass but apart from that he was very combative. 6

Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham and Sean Cronin not on long enough to rate


Ben Smith: Solid at the back for New Zealand. 7.

Israel Dagg: Good work in defence and did not get much chance to display his attacking prowess save for a flicker of space in the second half when he outstripped Zebo to almost set up a try. 6.

Malakai Fekitoa: Crossed for the All Blacks' first try early in the match then spent the start of the second half in the sin-bin after a high tackle on Zebo. Returned to cross the whitewash again. 8.

Anton Lienert-Brown: Worked well in defence and denied Van der Flier a try in the second half. 6.

Julian Savea: Not a commanding performance by his standards. 6.

Beauden Barrett: Showed an electric turn of pace to score New Zealand's second try despite being under pressure from Sexton. Could have added a second but knocked the ball forward before setting up Fekitoa's second. Kicked all three conversions. 8.

Aaron Smith: Sent to the sin-bin for kicking a ball through a ruck and arguably one of the weaker links in this New Zealand side. 6.

Joe Moody: Replaced by Wyatt Crockett at the start of the second half. 6.

Dane Coles: Solid line outs from the New Zealand hooker, who also popped up on the wing. Good turn of pace from a short line out but coughed up the ball. 7.

Owen Franks: Replaced early in the second half. A solid enough performance. 6.

Brodie Retallick: Was wise to Murray's tricks and did not allow the Ireland scrum-half space. Brought some strength to New Zealand's line out. 7.

Sam Whitelock: His return saw an improvement in New Zealand's line out and was effective in the loose. 7.

Liam Squire: A solid performance. 6.

Sam Cane: Avoided a yellow card after a reckless high tackle on Henshaw after wrapping his arms round the Irishman. Replaced by Ardie Savea in the 19th minute after picking up an ankle injury. 6.

Kieran Read: Good carries and strong and dependable at the back of the All Blacks scrum. 7.

Replacements: 7

TJ Perenara was the stand out from New Zealand's bench when he showed fast hands to ship the ball to Fekitoa for New Zealand's third try. Good strength and depth with Aaron Cruden taking charge after he replaced Barrett.

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