Saturday 24 February 2018

Ireland hopefuls

How they rated

9 Jonathan Sexton

Not a flawless performance but pretty damn close. We did not see as much line-kicking as may be required next weekend but Sexton ran hard, passed well, put in some meaty hits and helped win a couple of turnovers. Throw in six from seven placed kicks and a try stemming from good support play (for a total of 22 points) and it adds up to a display that will be hard to ignore.

7 Eoin Reddan

A lively, intelligent showing. The scrum-half's distribution and decision-making were up to the mark, and he made a couple of good breaks in a convincing audition for Twickenham.

6 Shane Horgan

Carrying a knock and not as involved as much as he would have liked. Scarlets had some joy down his channel and he missed a tackle in the build-up to the Welsh try. But there were also some trademark touches, including the powerful midfield surge which created the space for Isa Nacewa's try.

7 Shane Jennings

A strong showing from Leinster's captain on the night. Burrowed feverishly, and success-fully, for ball while putting in his tackles. Did his chances of making the Twickenham 22 no harm at all.

8 Girvan Dempsey

Dempsey showed all the qualities that made him Ireland's first-choice full-back for much of the last decade. His fielding was assured, he looked sharp on the ball and he made several crunching hits. It would have been a fairytale inclusion, but he was last night left out of the squad.

7 Mike Ross

The tighthead's Ireland candidature is crippled by his lack of starts for Leinster and Ireland Wolfhounds (where he was covering for Tony Buckley). He was reduced to a brief blood-bin appearance and 20 minutes at the end but showed in that time why he is so highly regarded as a scrummager.

Irish Independent

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