RBS 6 Nations 2011: Ireland Player Ratings versus Italy

Luke Fitzgerald – 7
After a shaky start where he seemed to be trying ‘too-hard’, Fitzgerald improved greatly as the game went on. Made a superb break after 19 minutes which almost put Sexton through for a try. Starting to look more comfortable in the 15 jersey.

Fergus McFadden – 6
Looked solid and assured in his first game for the senior squad. Very unlucky not to get a hold of the stray pass from O’Driscoll which would have resulted in a try. Made a couple of nice offloads to keep the ball alive.

Brian O’Driscoll – 6
Had a bit of a slow start, butchered an early try-scoring opportunity by throwing a very loose pass outside him. Took his try clinically in the second half, spotting the mismatch of Castrogiovanni and darted in for the score.

Gordon D’Arcy – 4
Ireland could have certainly left “Dorce-outside” for this game, he had a shocker! Almost every time he got the ball he managed to bungle it and knock-on. Surprised he managed to stay on the field for 76 minutes, speaks volumes for the Irish management.

Keith Earls – 7
Looks much more comfortable playing on the wing it has to be said, he made some lovely breaks. Always looked hungry for work making himself available for every attack.

Jonathan Sexton – 6
Definitely offers more in attack than O’Gara, his physicality was on show when he dumped Italian second row Quintin Geldenhuys on his posterior at the end of the first half.

Tomás O’Leary – 3
Hasn’t shown anything like his pre-injury form since coming back. Very slow on the ball, taking extra steps, and seemed off the pace. This combined with the Italian defense rushing, gave the backline no time whatsoever to create anything. Reddan didn’t offer anything different when he came on, Peter Stringer needs to be included in the match 22 next week.

Cian Healy – 4
Healy struggled in the scrum, got pinged multiple times for not binding correctly and knees hitting the deck early. Seemed to be the weak-link in the Irish scrum.

Rory Best – 5
Lineouts were not perfect by any means but the stats show that we only lost 1 from 8 on our own throw. Didn’t carry as much as he normally would, showed a fearsome defensive display to keep the Italians out.

Mike Ross – 5
Probably one of the toughest international games that Ross has played in. The Italian pack was impressive, but Ross gave a good account of himself. Got penalised early on by Poite, for reasons known only to himself. Made two turnovers and carried the ball

Donncha O’Callaghan – 7
Aggressive, industrious and mischievous. Highest tackle count of the Irish players, always a nuisance in the lineout. Gave away one silly penalty but that was the only blot on his copybook for the day. My man of the match.

Paul O’Connell – 6
Made a couple of handling errors early on, but is improving with every game. Faded slightly towards the end of the game and was replaced. Will improve as the competition rolls on.

Denis Leamy – 5
Did carry the ball a lot but offered little penetration, didn’t seem to get involved as much as the game wore on. His yellow card was harsh, as he seemed to take the rap for the infringements that went before him.

David Wallace – 6
Wallace looked good early on and faded in the second half. Again, lots of carries but few line breaks. Parisse demonstrated how it should be done.

Seán O’Brien – 6
Had a very quiet first 40 minutes. Had one superb break only to get caught in two-minds and fumble the ball. Turned over the ball on a couple of occasions and also kept himself busy in defence.


Eoin Reddan – 5
Solid enough, good in defence combining with Earls to bring Parisse down towards the end of the game. Doesn’t bring the snappy pass that Stringer would have brought to the game.

Ronan O’Gara – 6
Being hailed as the hero and man who saved Ireland, truth be told, Sexton would have nailed the drop-goal. (Not to detract from ROG’s cool-head).

Leo Cullen, Seán Cronin, Tom Court and Paddy Wallace (all 76 mins) Rating: Not on long enough to be rated

7 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2011: Ireland Player Ratings versus Italy

  1. It wasn’t all bad out there, when you look back on it a second time, defense was good, set-piece was good, the things that went wrong were handling errors, and backs not all in sync. They have a week to iron these niggles out.
    France leaked 3 tries against Scotland and gave them acres of space, imagine what Drico, Fitz and Earls could do with that amount of space?
    The French scrum will be a massive challenge for our pack, we NEED Stringer to provide fast ball to the backs, Hopefully we’ll have Ferris back and Healsip (?)

  2. It was one of the worst performances I’ve seen. I agree that the defence was decent – don’t agree that the set-piece was decent. Our line-outs were wobbly and we didn’t look like threatening theirs. We were bossed in the scrum, although there were a couple of good heaves. The crucial point was a lack of discipline. In a game like that you have to keep a cool head. The problem was that our mainstays didn’t. Look at O’Driscoll – if anyone can win a game when it’s needed it’s him, but he sent two passes that destroyed two nailed on tries. As for ROG, fair play to him, but how do you think Sexton feels – being taken off any time a game needs to be won? If he’s going to be our fly-half for the next 5 years (which he is), Kidney has to start letting him finish off games. I can’t see us beating France. They might well leak 2 or 3 tries, but I can see them scoring 5. Defence is going to have to be top-notch, O’Leary has to kill Parra, and if Ferris and Heaslip aren’t back the back row we played on Sunday cannot compete with Bonnaire, Dusatoir and Harinoriquy.

  3. Forget about all this if he is going to be our fly-half for the next 5 years. The world cup is in 8 months time and O’ Gara gives us the best chance of getting some results. Then we can think about what comes after that.

  4. ROG being brought on was unnecessary in my opnion, Sexton would have got that dropgoal just as easily, Sexton offers more in attack and unlike ROG he can tackle correctly. This is not the position I would be worried about…
    We have a weak scrum that is usually being driven back, to counter this we need that ball out of the scrum as fast as possible and into the back’s hands. TOL has not been delivering this ball fast enough, Stringer can. We are not going to be able to completely fix the scrum between here and the World Cup, it is something we are going to have work around. TOL is more physical that Stringer but you have to play to our strengths, we have one of the best back-lines in the northern hemisphere and they are not being provided with quality fast ball.

  5. Front Row: we were under pressure but the ref didn’t help (v.poor), Ross is by far our best tight head right now and will get better. Healy played well but I would play Court on the open side against the french cause they are so strong, Scotland have a good scrum and they were killed time after time. Cronin should get a start in my opinion with best as cover. I would play leo and paul the second row, even tho Donncha played really well against Italy I still don’t think he will come up to the plate against France, Leo is a brilliant player and a leader too. I would play Heaslip if fit cause he is also a good option at the rear of the lineout, and to be honest if Heaslip was to play I would honestly go for a all Leinster back row of Heaslip, Jennings and O’Brien. Jennings is a very good player and our best natural 7 we have and it annoys me that decie doesn’t pick him. Leamy is a good, honest player but at the moment is not playing well so should not be on the team(in my eyes it is a bit of favouritism) and Wallace should be used off the bench when thing open up a little. I would pick either Stringer or Reddan for scrum half. O’Leary was short on game time and it wasn’t fair to put him in, not fair on him or the others playing for that position (Decie shows favouritism yet again). Sexton at 10 with ronan covering. Back line: stay the same as it was against Italy but they need a huge kick to run more lines and to complete more off loads which unlocks defenses. Subs: 16: best 17: healy 18: Donncha 19: wallace 20: Reddan 21: ogara 22: johne murphy. Paddy wallace is not good enough, we have enough cover at outhalf with ogara, and murphy can cover on the wing and centre and fergus can place kick.

  6. Based on form and on addressing the problems of the last 6 years (i.e. scrum)

    1.Court 2.Best 3.Ross 4.Cullen 5.Tuhoy 6.O’Brien 7.Jennings 8.Heaslip 9.Reddan 10.Sexton 11.Earls 12.Wallace 13.O’Driscoll 14.Trimble 15.Fitzgerald
    16. Healy 17.Cronin 18.Toner 19.Wallace 20.Stringer 21.Humphreys 22.McFadden

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