Out of 10 How we rated Irelands players against France

first_imgHis best game for Ireland. Box-kicked accurately to put French on the back foot in the first half and kept his foot on the pedal in the second half. Inexplicably replaced just after 60 minutes.Cian Healy – 7Carried extremely well in the loose throughout and got down good and low opposite Nicolas Mas to limit the power of the blue scrum.Rory Best – 8Banished some of the demons of missed throws inside the attacking 22 with some pin-point darts in the first quarter. Central to a fine forward effort throughout. Ultimate tribute to him is the reluctance to use Sean Cronin.Mike Ross -6Endured a predictably tough time in the first half, but as Ireland grew in confidence he was at the forefront of the effort.Mike McCarthy – 8Played a massive role in the opening try, making his presence felt and clearing space for Heaslip to go through. A terrific performance against what is supposed to be a superior French pack.Donnacha Ryan – 8Like his second row partner, headed Ireland’s most potent weapon. Tremendous effort in every aspect. Just as Kearney is primed to fill big shoes behind the scrum, Ryan is visibly growing with every game in the engine room.Peter O’Mahony – 6A solid, if unspectacular day, but worked tirelessly at the breakdown and forced some crucial turnovers.Sean O’Brien – 8Showed almost all of his skills in one excellent 80 minutes. He carried, he rucked, he mauled, he caught line-outs and even kicked. At one stage he was actually dragging Yannick Nyanga along.Jamie Heaslip – 7Getting his name on the score-sheet was not only important for the team, but also for his own mind-set. After profiting off that early maul he was able to carry on with his own game and gave Ireland a hard edge in the tight exchanges.Replacements:Eoin Reddan – 5Ordinarily comes on to speed up games, but prime duty here seemed to be wheeling off the ruck and grubbering behind the blue wall. Hopefully the injury suffered late on was not overly serious.Luke Fitzgerald – 4Huge welcome on his first possession from the crowd. Still looks a little short on confidence, but you sense it will return the more time he has ball in hand.Not on long enough to be rated: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Iain Henderson, Ian Madigan.Champions: Italy loss seals 6 Nations crown for Ireland women6 Nations: Halfpenny boot shines through messy Welsh win Rob Kearney – 7Showed a glimpse or two of his 2012 form, but mostly used his brain and cultured left boot to influence the game.Ready, willing and able to take over the mantle of back-line leader.Fergus McFadden – 6Dropped a ball on the hour, but worked like a man unwilling to be taken out of the green shirt lightly. Powered into as many physical encounters as he could – including a superb chase of Paddy Jackson’s restart in the second half to force an error and keep Ireland playing in the right territory.Brian O’Driscoll – 8Sopping wet conditions meant he had to revert to his secondary function as a flanker. His efforts typified the character displayed over a distinguished career. Took a standing ovation as he looked unable to carry on, but typically re-emerged. A glutton for punishment.Luke Marshall – 7Pre-match, we asked him to show off his big boot a little more and his main contribution in Ireland’s 10-point half time lead was a big booming touch-finder which pinned the visitors back onto their five metre line.Conditions meant he was forced to show his skills without the ball and, paired off with the finest centre in Europe, he barely put a foot wrong. A big pat on the back from O’Driscoll after winning a ruck penalty felt like a changing of the guard… until they both left the arena on shaky legs.Keith Earls – 6Not a day for hard-track wingers and an early dropped Garryowen signalled the beginning of a quiet day for the utility back. However, his fitness stood to him and his pace almost gifted Ireland a win just after France had clawed back to 13-13.Paddy Jackson – 7Three out of four successful kicks in the first half and not one of them could be marked in the ‘easy’ category. Badly passed on a drop-goal chance after the break, but it was a call which should not have been made.Conor Murray – 8last_img

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