Sunday 17 December 2017

Ireland Ratings

David Kelly

David Kelly

6 Geordan Murphy

8 Tommy Bowe

His only mistake was rendered irrelevant by an illegal England kick-chase. Ran back well all the day, including one lovely centre-field shimmy and break. A serious challenger to Rob Kearney this summer. Tommy Bowe

Underlined his status as a world-class finisher with his top-class brace of tries, never more vital a commodity on days like this when the chance to conversion rate needs to be at its optimum.

6 Brian O'Driscoll

Only completed three-quarters of the game. Had barely any room in a cluttered midfield but was typically resilient in defence; by our count winning half of Ireland's steals. Emptied the anonymous Flutey.

6 Gordon D'Arcy

Aside from a cheeky chip and chase, D'Arcy was unable to breach the English white wall on this particular occasion but he made a few punishing incisions from standing starts. Responsible for 12 tackles.

8 Keith Earls

Aside from his blistering breaks and clinical finishing, Earls slotted in at midfield for a quarter and, despite an early hiccup, held up physically and made nine tackles. His most significant contribution to date.

7 Jonathan Sexton

Had a poor place-kicking day. But would anyone else have shown such composure in the frantic opening minutes to see that Bowe only had Lewis Moody as an opponent in a foot race?

7 Tomas O'Leary

Justified Kidney's faith in being retained for the full 80, as his menacing, physical presence during the final play fixed enough defenders to create the hole for Bowe's winning try. Kicking still too haphazard. Cian Healy

6 Cian Healy

Fingered in some quarters for the day's solitary missed tackle -- oh horror of horrors. Intense battle against Dan Cole and difficult to separate the pair. Not a day for him to thrive in the loose.

7 Rory Best

It is still awe-inspiring to believe that Best is playing at this level after his horrific injury. Ireland had limited opportunities from touch but he nailed the crucial throw. Superb in the defensive mauls.

4 John Hayes

Would have been sin-binned had he not been sacrificed by management, having given away two penalties.

As the impact replacements are seemingly not yet worthy of starts, there is sadly no alternative.

6 Donncha O'Callaghan

Fully justified his recall despite the proverbial couple of daffy decisions. Immense in rucks and mauls, O'Callaghan was also a pest in the air and committed in serial tackling.

7 Paul O'Connell

Even O'Connell is joking about his poor ball control now. Unacceptable errors at this level marred his best outing in a year in green, with supremacy from touch and restarts underpinning a hugely physical effort.

9 Stephen Ferris

Scarily awesome stuff. You can see why he refuses to countenance any effort to hold himself back. He simply doesn't know how. Made 15 tackles, many of them driving England back several metres too.

7 David Wallace

Becoming apparent that management don't see him as an 80-minute player any more. Not a day for a ball-carrying back-rower but still dominated his arena and was destructive in creating momentum for second try. Jamie Heaslip

8 Jamie Heaslip

Has reached the stage of his career where such excellence is expected; the gap between his progression post-Lions and team-mate Kearney is instructive. Responsible for two significant turnovers.

Tony Buckley: (for Hayes 61). Enigmatic cameo. Rarely approaches this kind of display in a red shirt. 7

Leo Cullen: (for O'Callaghan 69). Got his chance to influence proceedings when piling on the pressure at line-out. 6

Shane Jennings: (for Wallace 69). Hounded Jonny Wilkinson as the Englishman threatened to clear long; that Wilkinson didn't provided a closer range for a set move not necessarily predicated upon producing a score from its first phase. 6

Ronan O'Gara: (for Sexton 69). The experienced hand assumed the late responsibility for ensuring his side were chasing the win from the right area. 6

Andrew Trimble: (for O'Driscoll 63). Clearly champing at the bit to play a part in this one. Tackled like a demon. 6

8 Declan Kidney

Selection policy, deservedly parsed in pre-match analysis, was utterly validated. Coaches live or die on selection. Used his bench superbly; each man added something significant to the winning score.

Irish Independent

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