Friday 18 October 2019

Player ratings: Pack performance powers Ireland while back three step up on World Cup debut

Scotland's Jonny Gray is tackled by Ireland's Iain Henderson during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match at the International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama City. Ashley Western/PA Wire.
Scotland's Jonny Gray is tackled by Ireland's Iain Henderson during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match at the International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama City. Ashley Western/PA Wire.

Des Berry

Here is how the Irish players rated in the dominant 27-3 win over Scotland in their opening World Cup match.

JORDAN LARMOUR: The high balls were guaranteed and the full-back gobbled them up. A loose offload didn’t hinder his confidence. He was a threat all through and there was even a super poach penalty – 8. 

ANDREW CONWAY: The wing just carried on with the form he took into the competition. The harry, the hustle, the hyperactivity is what defines his impact. There is a serious decision to be made for Japan – 8.

GARRY RINGROSE: The centre has been under pressure from a dip in standards. He quietly, impressively worked his way through the game, wrapping up Hogg out wide and pressuring Russell with a sharp diving challenge – 7.

BUNDEE AKI: There was the expected aggression in how the centre hammered into contact. It is just a pity he had to leave with a head knock at the end of the first quarter - 5.

JACOB STOCKDALE: The left wing conceded a lineout deep inside the 22. He threatened to tear the Scots apart more than once and blasted Hogg twice with terrific timing into the tackle to snuff out danger – 7.

JONATHAN SEXTON: Went about his work in understated fashion, moving the ball on, entering into the ruck and the tackle with typical tenacity. Worrying to see him hand over the kicking – 7.  

CONOR MURRAY: The confidence in his kicking game even stretched to goal-kicking. The scrum-half’s variation in play and two try assists, for Furlong and Conway, signalled a return to form – 8.

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CIAN HEALY: The consistency of the loose-head is all about set-piece security, where the scrum was dominant, as a base for him to power into the game. Strong in contact for 49 minutes – 7. 

RORY BEST: The question marks over the captain were answered with authority, underpinned by accuracy and underlined by the try. He lasted the full 80 in a perfect performance at the lineout (12/12) – 8. 

TADHG FURLONG: The physicality with and without the ball was where it had been when forging his reputation as the best in his position. The try was a personal reward for his sacrifice for the team – 8.

IAIN HENDERSON: Ireland’s lineout calling was simply not an issue. The lock burst through McInally to create the first try, got his hands on Hogg in the open and snapped up a turnover in a magnificent showing. Ireland’s best man - 9. 

JAMES RYAN: The totemic lock burrowed over for the first try. There were just the usual 15 carries and 14 tackles as the staple diet, which included two unbelievable tackles on Hogg and the engulfed Maitland – 8.

PETER O’MAHONY: He took the first two lineouts, the first at the front, the second at the back to feed Best’s confidence. A blow to the head ended his contribution in the 26th minute – 6.

JOSH VAN DER FLIER: He was temporarily removed as early as the 13th minute, the flanker returning to drive Ireland’s defence with his blistering line-speed, 10 tackles doing scant justice to the pressure applied – 7.

CJ STANDER: That front-foot ball he has been longing for was there for him, making 43 metres from 15 carries, breaking the gain line seven times. When that happens, Ireland are usually in business - 9.

REPLACEMENTS:

JACK CONAN (13 mins): The penalty given away for the Scots three-pointer was compensated for by 14 tackles.

CHRIS FARRELL (20 mins): The back with the forward’s frame was superb, even finishing up at openside.

DAVE KILCOYNE (49 mins): There was no surprise to see the prop thunder into the contest.

ANDREW PORTER (49 mins): Took an unbelievable, instinctive catch from his first lineout.

TADHG BEIRNE (57 mins): Unlucky to be binned for what looked like a legitimate contest at the ruck.

LUKE McGRATH (57 mins): There was typical energy and aggression.

JACK CARTY (57 mins): The first two touches with the boot were beauties.

NIALL SCANNELL (73 mins): The World Cup debut was made late on at blindside.

COACH:

JOE SCHMIDT: The coach took the flak that came his way, placed his faith in Iain Henderson and Jordan Larmour for different reasons, and was rewarded with the individual buy-in and collective cohesion that puts Ireland on top in the Pool.

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