Rugby

The Player Ratings As Ireland WIN THE GRAND SLAM

The Player Ratings As Ireland WIN THE GRAND SLAM

Shout it out: for only the third time in history, Ireland are Grand Slam Champions.

Here they absorbed England's punches and floored them with the kind of deadly, effective counter-punching that the All Blacks have built a legacy on. It is wrong to say Ireland took all of their chances: some of their tries came from scenarios which most players wouldn't dare call chances.

It is a testament to Joe Schmidt that an Irish side shorn of Sexton, Earls and Aki soaked up English pressure in the final ten minutes to grind their way to glory. England burnished the scoreboard in the final act through Johnny May, but it doesn't matter.

Ireland are not to be denied the ultimate achievement in European rugby.

Here are the Irish player ratings, as 23 men bolted for history.

Irish Player Ratings

Rob Kearney - 11 

Kearney's best performance of a critic-silencing championship. His challenge on Watson made the first try out of virtually nothing, and from there he defended superbly and led how you might expect the only starter from Cardiff '09 would - forcing a penalty from Mike Brown just shy of the hour mark. He made a total of 48 metres in one of his finest-ever Irish games.

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Keith Earls - 8.5

We didn't get to see too much of Earls from an attacking point of view, but defensively the Munster man was fantastic, aside from the moment he was caught out by an admittedly world-class kick by Owen Farrell. But covered superbly from there, with his scramble defence out wide making light of a supposed Irish defence weakness. That tap-tackle on Elliot Daly should be hanging in the Tate. Limped off with seven minutes left.

Garry Ringrose - 10

Ringrose will remember his first trip to Twickenham fondly, beguiling it with a fabulous, opportunistic finish after just six minutes. He is a class apart, and a worthy successor to Ireland's last 13. There might not be a better player in world rugby at stripping the ball from his opponent's arm.

Bundee Aki - 8

Fortunate to escape a yellow for a no-arms barge on Johnny may not long after his best moment in this game - a delightful pass off his left to CJ Stander, who slid against the base of the post for Ireland's second try. Made way after 55 minutes having taken a nasty knock to his head, forcing Ireland into a pretty large-scale reshuffle of their back line.

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Jacob Stockdale - 9

Anonymous for 42 minutes of the first-half, and then...an astonishing finish for Ireland's third try, squeezing space from inches to burn Mike Brown and touch down at the last possible moment. In doing so he became the first player to score seven tries in a Six Nations campaign, and took his overall Irish haul to an absurd 11 in nine Tests. Last week, somebody changed his place of birth on Wikipedia from Lurgan to Another Planet. Petition to make that permanent.

Johnny Sexton - 8 

Missed a quarter of the first-half with a HIA and didn't look fully himself when he returned in the second-half. At the same time, his kick made the first try, and made way on 66 minutes. Relatively understated by Sexton, but Ireland are Grand Slam champions having kept him on the pitch for longer than in any of Schmidt's previous campaigns. No coincidence.

Conor Murray - 9.5

At virtually every Irish scrum, the air was assailed with the panicked shouts of "Murray, Murray" by the English pack. The scrum-half was targeted and hit late by more than once, but he responded how you might expect. Another outstanding performance in which he showed he can do virtually anything, including kicking goals. What a player.

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Cian Healy - 8

A solid if unspectacular 50-odd minutes for Healy in which he brought a ferocious work rate, making eight tackles.

Rory Best - 8

While Best came into this as one of only two Irish players to have won a Grand Slam, the fact that he was a substitute meant that this was his moment. The lineout recovered from a faulty start, while Best matched his forwards work-rate with seven tackles.

Tadhg Furlong - 9

Another remarkable shift by Furlong, and his try-saving tackle from Maro Itjoe was forgotten as Elliot Daly collected Farrell's kick over the line a couple of minutes later. Incredibly, he led Ireland's tackle count as he made way, with 14. He's a tighthead prop!

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James Ryan - 8.5 

Phenomenal performance from Ryan in which he more than eclipsed his opposite number Maro Itoje. 13 tackles; 10 carries - he is at home at this level, and set the tone for the Irish performance with a monster hit on Anthony Watson in the third minute.

Iain Henderson - 9 

An afternoon when Henderson met the performance levels we know him capable of, prising a couple of critical turnovers along with making 12 tackles and being a general nuisance to England in every facet of the game. Class.

Peter O'Mahony - 8 

Outshone by Leaby and Stander, but O'Mahony's performance shouldn't be overlooked: Ireland's second try began with his incredible leap in the lineout, from which he came down with a bit of snow in his hair.

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Dan Leavy - 11 

When Schmidt leavened Ireland with Dan, Ireland's Grand Slam ambitions gained a bit of added flesh. This was an astonishing performance by Leavy: 17 tackles, 2 turnovers. Sean O'Brien is one of the best back-row players in Europe, and Ireland didn't miss him at all over the past seven weeks. Arise, Dan.

CJ Stander - 11

Holy hell. Stander, after a couple of underwhelming performances thus far (by his own standards) Stander turned in one of his finest Irish performances yet. A try along with an absurd 22 carries. A great man.

 

Finishers Replacements - 10

Jack McGrath , Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter maintained Ireland's parity at the scrum: Cronin nailed Brown into touch to end the English challenge. Devin Toner and Jordi Murphy arrived too late to make a massive impact, while Kieran Marmion appeared on the wing against England for the second time in his career. Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour, meanwhile, arrived into a cauldron and looked as if they'd been playing there all their careers.

 

 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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