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The Irish Player Ratings As Ireland Edge A Thriller Against Wales

The Irish Player Ratings As Ireland Edge A Thriller Against Wales
By Gavin Cooney Updated

Bloody hell.

A zany, rip-roaring Six Nations game ended 37-27 to Ireland; a ten-point margin that reflected Ireland's dominance of possession and territory but not the momentum of the final few minutes, in which Wales pounded the Irish defence in rhythmic step with the beats of Irish fans' hearts. In the end, dreams of a Grand Slam survive. Much to work on, but Ireland got the job done with Johnny Sexton playing poorly. Here are the Irish player ratings.

Rob Kearney - 6.5

His 41st-minute attempted drop-kick was, er, ambitious. Untested defensively, ineffective offensively.

Keith Earls - 7.5

Earls looked lethal, as per, and was unfortunate not to get a try of his own in a lung-busting chase in the second half. Unless he picked up an injury, the decision to replace him with Fergus McFadden with 15 minutes to go seemed curious.

Chris Farrell - 9


Farrell set the tone for a phenomenal Six Nations debut in the first minute, with a ferocious chase and hit on Leigh Halfpenny. Overall, he was terrific, gobbling ground with every carry. His ball presentation was immaculate, and his defence impressive. Farrell is essentially Ireland's fourth-choice outside centre: if only we had such depth elsewhere.

Bundee Aki - 6.5

Before he burnished it with a well-taken try, Aki endured a conspicuously difficult first half that was rife with handling errors and the concession of sloppy penalties. Was notably MIA on the first Welsh try, although did appear to be taken out off the ball. Relatively quiet in the second half.


Jacob Stockdale - 7.5

Stockdale's defence has been much-maligned in this tournament, and it was mixed again today. The second Welsh try owed much to his indiscipline in shooting up from the line as Ireland were caught narrow once again. That said, some of his best contributions in this game were in the tackle: respective hits on Biggar and Moriarty provided the platform for Ireland's third and fourth tries, and caught the intercept for the final score. It would be wrong not to mention his absurd scoring record, too: touching down in this game means he has eight tries in as many Tests for Ireland.

Johnny Sexton - 7.5


A peculiar aberration that only goes to accentuate the sheer class of Sexton. He had a shocker off the tee and missed his first three kicks along with another in the second half, to the point that he wildly decided to run a kickable penalty with twelve minutes left. That said, amid that strange plight he orchestrated all of Ireland's attacks. His pass for Stockdale's try was superb, and it was his delayed toss to Kearney which provided the thrust for Ireland's third try.

Wales got Sexton on a bad day, and he still made a difference.

Conor Murray - 7.5 


An oddly poor first-half from Murray, characterised by some very loose box-kicking. He improved to conduct the second Irish try, and mercifully recovered from a knock to the knee in the closing stages to kick a critical penalty off the tee.

Cian Healy - 7

Further evidence that Healy has dislodged a Lion to become Ireland's starting loosehead. A fine performance, capped with the bonus point-securing try.


Rory Best - 7 

Best today became the most-capped Irish forward ever this afternoon, and this was similar to many of the performances that went before:  busy in the loose with all but one line-out throw on the money.

Andrew Porter - 8


The 54th minute of this game offered a brutal yet beautiful vindication of Porter's decision to swap from loosehead to tighthead. With an attacking scrum, Wales targeted the Irish rookie. Three minutes later, Ireland had a bonus point and the entire Welsh front row were whipped off. Porter himself last 66 minutes. A fine effort.

Devin Toner - 7

Fine performance by Toner: Ireland's line-out worked extremely well given the loitering presence of the brilliant Alun Wyn Jones, and he was effective in the loose: making seven tackles.

James Ryan - 7.5

Ryan was impressive. Although he didn't rack up the impressive numbers of his back-row colleagues, he was hugely effective at the ruck and brought huge physicality around the field.

Peter O'Mahony - 7.5

Surprisingly, O'Mahony didn't last the full game: replaced by Jack Conan with fourteen minutes to go. He turned in a typically industrious performance, and was as useful at lineout time as ever.

Dan Leavy - 8.5

A performance which occasionally touched the absurd: a try, ten tackles and 12 carries. He led Ireland's counter-charge at the breakdown, and has slotted seamlessly into the Irish backrow.

CJ Stander - 8.5

Stander was terrific, and carried like a man possessed: he carried 21 times in total, a couple of them critical prior to Ireland touching down. This game suited him, and was edged by Chris Farrell for man of the match.


John Ryan recovered from a troubling came against France to win a critical penalty with five minutes to go, having been on the wrong side of a similar situation in Paris, and can give thanks to Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath for that too.

Fergus McFadden began his performance with an incredibly sloppy knock-on from Kearney's past and that set the tone for a poor performance off the bench, with Quinn Roux, Joey Carbery and Jack Conan featuring also.




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