Ireland & New Zealand Player Ratings – 1st Test

15. Rob Kearney – 6

The European Player of the Year let nobody down, halting the black tide with some acrobatic last-ditch tackling and attempting some characteristically courageous counter-attacks. Was sent rapidly to earth in the first half by Julian Savea on one of these forays, which summed up the evening nicely.

14. Fergus McFadden – 5

Floundered as the All Blacks flooded his wing with deadly runners but, admirably, Mcfadden never threw the towel in. Rewarded for perseverance with Ireland’s only try.

13. Brian O’Driscoll – 8

His critics may remember an errant pass that eventually led to the Kiwis’ second score. That would be a shame, as the skipper was brilliant in every other facet, saving his side’s bacon with turnovers, stepping up in defence and posing a significant running threat. How Declan Kidney missed him in the Six Nations.

12. Keith Earls – 7

Very sharp in the opening stages and latched onto O’Driscoll’s offload when the contest was still alive. Eventually overrun by Conrad Smith but a sterling effort from a proud Munsterman.

11. Simon Zebo – 6

Looked for work and shackled Zac Guildford, the only member of New Zealand’s starting backline that looked close to human. His pace vindicated Kidney’s selection.

10. Jonathan Sexton – 7

Started the match superbly, taking the right options from the gain-line and hurling fearless passes out wide. Faded as the game wore on enhanced his reputation as an exceptional front-foot fly-half.

9. Conor Murray – 5

Did not play referee Nigel Owens very well, which unfortunately meant that his forwards were put under unnecessary pressure. Also overcooked a box kick prior to Savea’s opening try. Costly mistake.

1. Cian Healy – 7

Quite literally worked himself into the ground. Simply immense shift in the loose and only misses top marks because the lingering habit of folding in the tight.

2. Rory Best – 8

A bloke you’d love next to you in the trenches, Best tackles his guts out for the entirety, showcasing exactly how he brought Ulster to the Heineken Cup final. Won the turnover that led to McFadden’s try in a strong all-round game.

3. Declan Fitzpatrick – 7

Hugely encouraging debut from the Ulsterman, especially in the current climate of scrum-phobia in Ireland. Was a rock at tighthead, which – against Tony Woodcock, New Zealand’s most-capped prop – was a fantastic introduction.

4. Dan Tuohy – 5

Could have been better at re-starts, which Dan Carter used to get his team right back at the tourists’ throats. Overshadowed by the more dynamic Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

5. Donnacha Ryan – 6

Angry and destructive in the loose, a calm, reliable target in the lineout. Decent outing.

6. Peter O’Mahoney – 6

Solid at the lineout, a nuisance at the breakdown and showed slick hands before the try, but lacks the rampaging pace that the likes of Kieran Read and Victor Vito change games with. Certainly worth persevering with, though.

7. Sean O’Brien – 8

A match for Richie McCaw to most breakdowns, which is a huge compliment in itself. Offered himself for numerous lion-hearted ball-carries and will only get wilier with time in the seven shirt.

8. Jamie Heaslip – 6

Typified Ireland’s futile industry. Went off like a madman, evidently eager to exorcise the demons of his 2010 sending-off. Tried bravely but eventually was enveloped by his illustrious back-row adversaries.


Worryingly, Eoin Reddan wasn’t at his sharpest, although the calming influence of Ronan O’Gara helped. Darren Cave had an eight minutes to forget after replacing Earls but the forwards who entered the fray – Sean Cronin, Ronan Loughney, Donncha O’Callaghan and Kevin McLaughlin – tried their hearts out.

New Zealand:

15. Israel Dagg – 8, 14. Zac Guildford – 6, 13. Conrad Smith – 9, 12. Sonny Bill Williams – 7, 11. Julian Savea – 8, 10. Dan Carter – 9, 9. Aaron Smith – 8, 8. Kieran Read – 9, 7. Richie McCaw – 8, 6. Victor Vito – 7, 5. Sam Whitelock – 8, 4. Brodie Retallick – 7, 3. Owen Franks – 7, 2. Andrew Hore – 6, 1. Tony Woodcock – 6

Unsurprisingly given the comprehensive nature of the scoreline, there were some simply awesome performances from this New Zealand side as they started out on the road to 2015 in considerable style. Dan Carter was close to his iconic best; Kieran Read toyed with Ireland like a sadistic big brother; Conrad Smith sliced Ireland’s backline to ribbons. Oh, and a bloke called Julian Savea introduced himself to international rugby with a hat-trick. This immense generation isn’t finished yet.

by Charlie Morgan

5 thoughts on “Ireland & New Zealand Player Ratings – 1st Test

  1. Don’t think these player ratings are worth posting anymore when they don’t make sense or have any relevance to the game. Despite Ireland being smashed by New Zealand their players got some similar scores…
    The Irish players tried hard but still lost and were outclassed. Therefore, in relevance to the NZ player ratings I wouldn’t have awarded any of the men in green above a 7.
    Being honest, these player ratings only seem to be a man by man analysis of the Ireland team and offer no real reflection of the game. Certainly doesn’t reflect the score line.

    1. That’s how it goes. The AB’s bet the Bokkes 40 – 7 in New Zealand in the last tri-nations. The numbers reflect effort and potential more than actual skill shown. The bokkes won their home match against them in the series but without scoring a try. Nobody can match NZ at their best. Hope Ireland can pick themselves up. 1st test is the water test.

  2. Too high for Healy – your own comment admits he is awesome in the loose but folds in the tight. This is like trying to play with 6 forwards and 9 backs. It’s a nice luxury to have when you’re playing against minnows with a poor pack but against decent teams you need a front row, you need a pack of 8. A prop can be the best loose player in the world but if he’s not a good prop he deserves a poor mark and perhaps told to lose some weight and move to the backs. To rate Woodcock below Healy seems to indicate that with these scores you’ll get a higher rating as a prop if you’re better in the loose than actually being a prop?

    Connor Murray seems to have some weird issues – through the 6 nations he played like a man intent on getting into a scrap – i think he mistakes unbridled and stupid aggression, coupled with a lot of moaning at the ref, for nous and passion. He’s like Mike Phillips without the occasional spells of quality.

  3. James – Maybe, on reflection, some of the Irish scores have been inflated slightly and (hastily totted up) totals of NZ 114- Ireland 97 are perhaps 5 or so too close, but I wouldn’t say that this had no relevance to the game.
    Until Savea’s first try, Ireland had been very impressive and even when the floodgates opened in the second-half, there were flashes of brilliance from individuals who didn’t back down at all. In the face of a relentless All Black surge, that is very admirable and – I hope – reflected in the scoring. I would argue that there was better rugby played overall in this Test than over the other two. Ireland had a lot to do with that.
    Brighty – fair point, but I thought Healy’s work in the loose was even more outstanding than usual and his scrummaging wasn’t exposed because of the excellent Fitzpatrick. Agree re: Murray

  4. I thought Best was outstanding and agree that Healy had a strong game in a pack that was outmuscled as the game wore on. On an individual basis I think those two warrant the ratings they’ve been given. And as much as I admire BOD I think an 8 is a bit generous, a 7 would have been more representitive of his performance, and while I acknowledge he did keep SBW in check, it meant others (ie: Dagg) cut through the defensive line on the outside creating that extra bit of space. As for Murray, it wasn’t a good day for him but the scrum penalties were nonsensical – even the Kiwi commentators were confused with those, but that aside he really needs to adjust to the pace of the game, but then that can be said for the rest of the team as well. While we were competitive for the first 20 minutes, the final whistle goes after 80 minutes so we have an hour to fill in and only a few days to do it.

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