Monday 18 December 2017

Player ratings: Blunt Irish backs fail to impress in disappointing defeat to Scotland

Rob Kearney of Ireland breaks the tackle by Huw Jones of Scotland during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Scotland and Ireland at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Rob Kearney of Ireland breaks the tackle by Huw Jones of Scotland during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Scotland and Ireland at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

The player ratings from Ireland's opening round defeat to Scotland. Not good reading for the Irish back division.


ROB KEARNEY: An off-kilter day all-round for the Leinster man who struggled to find his usual defensive rhythm. 4/10

KEITH EARLS: Took his try well but was at fault for Hogg's score when the Glasgow star ghosted through Ireland's midfield all too easily. 5

GARRY RINGROSE: Unable to offer any tangible attacking threat on a tough day for the hugely-gifted Leinster star. 4

ROBBIE HENSHAW: A pale shadow of his barnstorming autumn form that saw the Leinster centre produce a sterling showing in the victory over New Zealand. 4

SIMON ZEBO: Ground away well and produced the scoring pass for Earl's try but was otherwise unimpressive. 4

PADDY JACKSON: Solid effort from the Ulster playmaker without ever managing to cut loose; took his try well. 6

CONOR MURRAY: Subdued showing from the scrum-half who definitely suffered under special treatment from Scotland at the breakdown. 5

JACK McGRATH: Bossed the scrum as Ireland demolished Scotland's set-piece game. 6

RORY BEST: Tidy enough effort from the Ulster stalwart but the captain lacked his usual commanding leadership. 6

TADHG FURLONG: Dominated Scotland at the scrum to press his British and Irish Lions claims still further. 7

IAIN HENDERSON: Took his try well in a good effort but was another who lacked the kind of rudder that would have turned the game. 6

DEVIN TONER: Unusually dominated at the lineout in a difficult day for the mainstay of Joe Schmidt's Ireland pack. 5

CJ STANDER: A quiet performance by his usual lofty standards, the South Africa-born flanker failed to bully the Scotland back-row. 6

SEAN O'BRIEN: So nearly wrestled the game back for the visitors with consistently powerful ball carrying in the second half. 7

JAMIE HEASLIP: Well below what he would expect of himself in a day of too many turnovers and penalties conceded. 4


Ireland's bench were unable to hand Joe Schmidt's men the impetus to steal a win they would hardly have deserved. Tommy Bowe conceded two crucial penalties.


STUART HOGG: Reacted brilliantly to pick up a dodgy pass for the early opener before making a fool out of Keith Earls for the second. Looks like the Lions 15 jersey is his to lose. 8/10

SEAN MAITLAND: Defensively outstanding, with his game-saving tackle on Rob Kearney keeping the Scots in the game. 7

HUW JONES: The Stormers centre played a crucial role in Scotland's second touchdown but too many missed tackles saw him replaced by Mark Bennett with 20 minutes remaining. 6

ALEX DUNBAR: Spotted a chink in the Irish defence as he slipped through to finish off a cheeky line-out move but will be frustrated by a inconsistent display. 6

TOMMY SEYMOUR: Missed the chance to stop Earls grabbing Ireland's try but did brilliantly to rescue Scotland on the stroke of half-time after Dunbar's intercepted pass put them in danger. 7

FINN RUSSELL: Big things have been expected of the Glasgow fly-half but he seemed overawed by the occasion and lacked his usual spark. 6

GREIG LAIDLAW: The Dark Blues skipper kept his nerve when his side needed it most, nailing two late penalties to hand the Dark Blues a precious win. 8

ALLAN DELL: Struggled to get to grips with Tadhg Furlong as Scotland were put under pressure at the scrum. 5

FRASER BROWN: Started in place of Ross Ford but a facial knock suffered early meant the centurion hooker was introduced after 27 minutes. 5

ZANDER FAGERSON: Had a tough task standing in for WP Nel but his carry and work at the breakdown made him an able understudy. 7

RICHIE GRAY: The giant lock put on a breathless display to help halt Ireland as they threatened to pinch the victory. 7

JONNY GRAY: Could have helped out Dell a little more at the scrum but otherwise put in his usual workhorse performance. 7

RYAN WILSON: Always eager to get on the front foot but did not always make a dent on the visitors' line. 6

HAMISH WATSON: Vital tackles on Sean O'Brien and Paddy Jackson during the first period. Ran out of steam after the break. 7

JOSH STRAUSS: Not the kind of swashbuckling display he shows for Glasgow but stood up when Scotland needed him most. 6


Ford and John Barclay gave the Scots' pack some much needed experience but Bennett was too easily beaten when Paddy Jackson briefly nudged Ireland ahead.

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