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Player Ratings As Ireland Dig Deep To Kill The England Grand Slam

Player Ratings As Ireland Dig Deep To Kill The England Grand Slam
By Balls Team Updated

Three Six Nations debutants, but some things remain the same: Ireland again found thrust in their own wounded pride. And once again, we have ended an eighteen game winning streak: first the All Blacks in Chicago, now England in Dublin. A 13-9 victory which spoils the English party, but also adds to the frustration we don't have a party of our own.

Here are the Irish player ratings from the final game of the 2017 Six Nations Championship.

Jared Payne - 7.5

Payne's preparation for today's bearpit was a couple of dances with puppies: a couple of Pro12 games with the Italian minnows. He was patently gassed by the thirty-minute mark here, yet remained on to make the largest single break of the game, cut short by an unpunished Vunipola high tackle.

He recovered from a couple of early knock-ons to deal adequately with the ball in the air, while his passing and aggression added an extra dimension to the Irish attack, with a two-handed toss out to Keith Earls in the first-half its greatest emblem. Somehow played the whole game.

Keith Earls - 6.5

There were doubts surrounding Earls' inclusion ahead of the game, and he lasted forty minutes before making way for Conway at half-time. He was impressive once again, and Irish fans can take great glee in his flattening Mike Brown. Earls can reflect on a very fine championship from a personal point of view.

Garry Ringrose - 7.5

Footwork once again a devilish delight, and he managed to conjure some extra millimeters of precious space in midfield. Defensively solid once again, but Ringrose remains on the precipice of exploding upon a game, and writing something truly memorable. It didn't happen today, but it will happen soon. Very soon.

Robbie Henshaw - 8

Ireland's ownership of the ball in the first half meant we saw much less of the ebullient tackler we saw against Wales, with the addition of a scrum cap and his distance from lineout mauls the most notable aspect of his first-half performance, bar his choke tackle work with Sexton: a great turnover on Farell in the first-half preceded a momentum-altering steal on James Haskell early in the second-half. His ability to eat up yards from a standing start remains astonishing.

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Simon Zebo - 7

Did not have many ball-carrying opportunities, but Zebo was outstanding with the spotlight elsewhere: positionally spot on, and offered a constant threat through midfield off Sexton's left shoulder.

Johnny Sexton - 8.5

Death, taxes....and Sexton on one knee, rubbing his shoulder after an early reducer by the opposition. Both James Haskell and Mauro Itoje nailed Sexton early in the first-half, with Sexton responding with irascible vigour: a petulant kick at Haskell was followed by a superb choke tackle turnover on Owen Farrell.

Retained that in the second half, working with Henshaw to secure a second. His ball presentation was perfect; his kicking from hand occasionally loose in a game in which he was clearly targeted by England. Along with the above guarantees in life you can add a fourth: Sexton's courage knows no bound.

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Kieran Marmion - 8

Outstanding. His passing was no less sharp and snappy than Conor Murray's, with his defensive contribution mammoth: a critical tackle on Elliot Daly in the first-half the most notable. Faded a little in the second half, but he can be proud of his performance, and proof that Schmidt can trust him earlier when injury next befalls Conor Murray.

Jack McGrath - 6.5

50th minute penalty gifted England with three points and seemed to give England the momentum to go and chase the game. Went 60 minutes again, solid if unspectacular. Healy is pushing him for the starting berth.

Rory Best - 7.5

Best tried his best to politely influence Garces from the consistent late hits on Sexton. He was softly spoken but insistent. Brilliant captaining. The Ireland lineout was back to its best today, though. Also made a tremendous behind the back just before heading to HIA in the first half.

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Tadhg Furlong - 7

Quiet by his own beastly standards. Found no space with the ball in hand and England used the scrum as a launchpad to claw its way back into the game in the fourth quarter. Looked absolutely shattered by the end. He left everything on the pitch.

Donnacha Ryan - 8.5

Ryan always turns up for England games but this might have been the game of his life. He seemed to be Ireland’s spiritual leader today and forced himself into Lions reckoning. Very solid Six Nations from Ryan

Iain Henderson 8.5

Brought a level of aggression that Ireland had been badly missing. His decisive first half try was the work of sheer bloody-mindedness and he made sure Lawes and Launchbury knew his name by the end.

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Peter O’Mahony - 9 

It turned out the calls for O’Mahony to start were correct. Ireland won this match and the lineout and O’Mahony was everywhere in the first half. He was an absolute menace at the defensive lineout and his lineout take set up the Henderson try. He HAS to start every game now.

Sean O’Brien - 7.5

O’Brien will be enjoying a long bath in the Slaney tomorrow to rest his weary bones. In the wars all day with Marler and Itoje, O’Brien was a battering ram, making space when none was there. O’Brien seemed to be in every ruck and terrorising breakdown.

CJ Stander - 7

It was a pleasure to park the tiresome debate on Stander’s nationality and just enjoy Stander as a rugby player again. Stander’s first appearance in the green #8 shirt

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Subs

Niall Scannell - 7

Deputised well for Best both during first half HIA and in the final ten minutes.

Cian Healy 7.5

Played an important role in calming Sexton before his massive kick to make it 13-6, but gave away penalty in the scrum from a brilliant attacking position. Rolled back the clock with massive linebreak.

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Devin Toner - 7

Maintained the aggression in a strong cameo role

Dan Leavy -  7 (On for O’Brien 67”)

Thrown right into the mix in that pivotal fourth quarter and Leavy did not put a foot wrong. A performance that will stand to him

John Ryan - 7

Another cap and an increasingly reliable set of hands off the bench

Andrew Conway (for Earls at half-time) - 6

Fiercely competitive on his Six Nations debut, an anxiety to impress that occasionally went too far, conceding a penalty for tackling Ben Te'o in the air.

Luke McGrath (for Marmion on 68') - 7.5

Came on for Marmion, and delivered an utterly sensational box kick with less than three minutes on the clock.

 

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