Monday 16 September 2019

Player ratings: Aki and Ryan lead the charge but misfiring Ireland leave plenty of room to improve

10 November 2018; Bundee Aki of Ireland following the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
10 November 2018; Bundee Aki of Ireland following the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Des Berry

Here is how the Ireland players rated in the 28-17 against Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

Jordan Larmour: The art of not doing too much is a difficult assignment for someone who believes he can do anything. There was impressive leg drive through contact. He didn’t get a touch to a Sanchez bomb, which could have been deadly - 6.

Keith Earls: The ball didn’t come his way in the first-half as Argentina exploited miscommunication or misreads at restarts. When he did come inside looking for ball, there were too many bodies in his way until two burst up the right– 6.

Will Addison: Thrown into the spotlight by the late withdrawal of Henshaw for his second cap, first start. There were three touches in the first minute to get him settled. Chased restarts with energy. Master of drawing defenders and putting runners into space – 7.  

Bundee Aki: The hard-charging role of Ireland’s inside centre had to be complemented by first-up defence. It wasn’t the case for the first Pumas try. There was redemption in cleaning up a mess for five points and proper go-forward in the second period - 8.

Jacob Stockdale: Failure to dominate in the air had a lot to do with the Argentina’s accurate kick-chase. He had the wheels to get on the outside and grew into the game, using his left-arm fend and trusty left boot - 7.  

Jonathan Sexton: The master manipulator did not probe or punt with customary precision, sharing in the culpability for the Argies' opening try. He was calm in retreat to rescue Boffelli’s chip and kicked the goals when they came in the second period – 6.

Kieran Marmion: The greatest challenge for the Connacht half-back was to be accurate in his box-kicking. That was never a factor. There are few sharper operators behind a forward-moving scrum, illustrated by his try. Injured. Replaced after 56 minutes – 7. 

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Cian Healy: The scrum was a knife-through-butter for the first try and one against-the-head was the propeller for the second. There was one never-on offload that was one of the few bad points on a fine showing from Ireland’s reliable loose-head – 8.

Rory Best: Started out perfectly with darts to Henderson and Ryan, and motored the scrum for Marmion’s try. There were hiccups out of touch from there with the captain always offering up his body for punishment at the ruck. Replaced after 58 minutes – 7.

Tadhg Furlong: Farmer’s strength is a real thing. A bullocking barge was augmented by a try-earning scrum, penalties in that area and venom to his ruck work. Shook his head when rattled by a double-tackle and got back to being a workaholic - 8.   

Iain Henderson: He called a lot of lineouts into his own hands. He was not as secure on receiving restarts. The physicality was there, driving carriers back and holding them up to buy time for his defence. Replaced after 58 minutes - 7.  

James Ryan: There was a ball lost in contact, spill at a 5-metre lineout and penalty given up for three. But he ruined the Argies maul at his own end in a performance of immense energy and commitment. Got stronger and better - 8.    

Peter O’Mahony: Poached a penalty to give Ireland early momentum. The grubber into the 22 was a sign of confidence. He was calm in exposed areas of the field and stole a crucial lineout in the 64th minute, eventually leading to McGrath’s try – 7.

CJ Stander: The number eight was not at his best, in terms of ball security and presentation. That determination to fight through contact usually returned a half-metre more than others could churn out in what was a real dogfight – 7. 

Sean O’Brien: Ireland’s most revered flanker needed this more than anyone. He passed smartly, was pinged for a high tackle, but was sadly forced off with what looked like a serious injury to the forearm. Replaced on 38 minutes – 6. 

Joe Schmidt: The parachuting of Will Addison straight into the centre was a vote of confidence from the coach to the squad. The replacements lifted the standard, Dan Leavy picking up turnovers, Luke McGrath a try in what was a patchy performance – 8.   

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