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The Irish Player Ratings From A Deflating Defeat To Scotland

The Irish Player Ratings From A Deflating Defeat To Scotland
By Gavin Cooney Updated
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Ireland have been mugged in Murrayfield. Scotland's 27-22 victory is their first opening day win since 2006, with Ireland paying for a hideous first-half in which they conceded three tries. Ireland battled back in the second half, but Scotland finished the stronger in the final ten minutes, with uncharacteristic ill-discipline giving Scotland two penalties to win the game.

Ireland's consolation is novel but scant: a losing bonus point for the first time in the competition's history. Here are the Irish player ratings.


15 - Rob Kearney - 6.5 

Remarkably mixed from Kearney. A scorching second-half break was preceded by far too much running directly into the first tackler; one crucial, try-saving intervention a minute shy of half-time blemished by going AWOL on the first Scottish try. Wasn't tested in the air.

14 - Keith Earls - 7

Finished his try well, and fell victim to the Irish systems failure on the second try. Great line break in the second half should have led to a try, had Sean O'Brien spotted Conor Murray off his left shoulder. Subbed in the second half, which seemed an odd decision unless he was carrying an injury.

13 - Garry Ringrose - 6

Much of the build-up was dominated by Ireland's fretting over the absence of one man, but this week's focus was on the wrong player. Ireland's defensive communication disintegrated in the absence of Jared Payne, with the frequency of numerical mismatches out wide depressingly reminiscent of the World Cup defeat to Argentina.

Ringrose really struggled to make any impact from an attacking point of view, while in the first half he was utterly overwhelmed defensively, communication non-existent in the face of a Scottish attack as varied as it was devastating.

 12 - Robbie Henshaw - 7.5

To damn Henshaw with the faintest of praise, he was Ireland's best performer among the back five in the first-half. Consistently made rarified ground in the first period, and was equally effective through the middle of the second. Perhaps could have done better off Heaslip's shoulder with the try line in sight in the second half.

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11 - Simon Zebo - 6

Fortunate not to see the assist for Earls' try intercepted, and defensively awful on the first try, bizarrely being caught napping on the wrong side of the field. He was none too sharp on the third try, either. Oh, and his poor return was the spark from which the second try began.

10 - Paddy Jackson - 7.5 

After a conservative start, Jackson took a stride forward and began pulling the strings at 14-0 down. It was his break that led to Ireland's try in the first, and he finished his try superbly. He made more clean breaks than any of his teammates, but his frustrating habit of marking every appearance with one big error continues: he was pinged for not rolling away late on, which led to the penalty through which Scotland sealed the game.

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9 - Conor Murray - 7.5 

Murray was not targeted as he was in Glasgow a few weeks ago, with Scotland instead training their cross-hairs on whichever member of the Irish back-row dared to move forward. He was sluggish in the first half: ball was slow, and Murray was one of the Irish players deepest in sleep on Scotland's comedic third try. Murray quickened the pace in the second-half, however, and the Scots couldn't live with him: Ireland's ball-carriers eventually bludgeoned enough holes in the Scottish defence in the second half, and the operation was conducted from scrum-half.

8 - Jamie Heaslip - 6

Grew into this one, even if he seemed to be running backwards for most of the first half. Huge 60th-minute linebreak had echoes of 2009, but he couldn’t find the runner. Sixty metres carried but gave away the 79th-minute penalty that sealed the deal on this dreary loss.

7 - Sean O’Brien - 6.5

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Understandably had a bit of ring rust but blasted into the open field twice in the game. Part of an Irish backrow that was bullied in the first half. Will grow into this Six Nations

6 - CJ Stander - 7

Unusually slow start for the Annacotty man but he distinguished himself more than either of his back row cohorts. 43 metres bulldozed.

5- Devin Toner - 7

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Made 14 tackles and very strong in Ireland’s second half blitz. A constant in the lineout.

4 - Iain Henderson - 6

Scored a vital try to bring Ireland back into things in the second half but also conceded two turnovers.

3- Tadhg Furlong - 7

Absolutely monstrous in the scrum but caught napping on that Dunbar try. He will be absolutely roasted in the post-game video session by Schmidt. His punishing runs no doubt sucked the life out of the Scottish defense in the second half.

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2- Rory Best - 6.5

The Irish lineout was put under massive pressure in the first half and Best was staring Dunbar right in the face when he received that ball in the lineout. Ireland still was 12 out of 14 on the lineout and Best made 12 tackles.

1 - Jack McGrath - 6

Was central in Ireland’s massive first scrum dominance but was quiet by his beastly standards.

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Cian Healy 6 (55" on for McGrath )

Only one second half scrum and he wasn’t in it. Didn’t massive make a massive impression

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Ultan Dillane 5.5 (60” on for Iain Henderson)

One turnover in an atypically quiet game of the bench.

Josh van der Flier 6.5 (65” on for O’Brien)

The brightest of Ireland’s substitutes. Brought pace and violence when carrying the ball.

John Ryan - 6   (68” on for Furlong)

Four tackles in 12 minutes. Promising cameo.

Tommy Bowe - 5 (70" on for Earls) 

On Bowe's first appearance since the Argentina defeat, his only noticeable impact was a high tackle on Bennett that led to a penalty, and was fortunate to escape a yellow.

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