15 Rob Kearney– 7.5 Got off to a bad start in his early involvement with Kurtley Beale but once he settled, was immense at times. Played a big role in the leadup to what proved to be our winning score. No doubts anymore as to who our 1st choice fullback is.
14 Tommy Bowe –7 Our strategy was never going to see our wingers get much ball, and he had to rely on a SNAFU from Cooper to get a whiff of a try and then only a world-class tackle from O’Connor could stop him.
13 Brian O’Driscoll – 7.5 Also had little part in offence, but tackled as well as ever and just his mere presence on the pitch was vital to the team, a fact borne out by the concern felt by every Irish man & woman when he was off the field for a blood injury! The sigh of relief when he came back on without the play having involved our centres said it all.
12 Gordon D’Arcy – 7 Stood up relatively well in contact and put good pressure on Cooper. Not a game-busting display, but certainly seems to be on his way back to his best and Kidney will hope his injury wasn’t as serious as first thought.
11 Keith Earls– 6.5 Much like Bowe, it wasn’t entirely his fault he was invisible, but loses half a point for his indecisveness off the kickoff. I actuallly think his foot was on the line but you’re supposed to leave the officials in no doubt and he kind of fell between two stools.
10 Jonathan Sexton– 7 I’ll get some stick for this I’m sure, but what he lacked in place-kicks he made up for with his marshalling of the well-thought-out offensive gameplan. Also rose to the inside centre challenge well once again, there is little doubt that he is a key man to have on the pitch whenever possible. MUST settle on a kicking style with that ball and stick with it, though.
9 Eoin Reddan– 7.5 Didn’t light up the park but the ball was always quick and he played his part with our backrow in shutting down Will Genia. Deserves a rest altogether next week.
1 Cian Healy– 9.5 I don’t like giving anyone ten, and with a knockon here and a penalty there I can just about shave off half a point for the man they call Proper Church. If you weren’t a believer before this match, you had to be at full time. He even won back a scrum on our put in that seemed to be lost. Will be on many a “team of the tournament” at number 1 if he keeps this up.
2 Rory Best– 9 He’s in the form of his life – sure, one dart was off but no matter what the abilities of the opposing scrum, you can’t fault anyone in our front row. Did tons of work in the loose as well what with forcing turnovers and contributing to phases.
3 Mike Ross – 9 Only carried the ball significantly once that I can remember and nearly spilled it. But being the fulcrum of our powerful scrum, I’d be just as happy if he never saw the ball. Needs to be wrapped in cotton wool and put back in his box when we play Russia.
4 Donncha O’Callaghan– 7 Ably went about his business of causing havoc at lineouts & rucks.
5 Paul O’Connell – 8 Typical herculean effort from Paulie. Was pumped from start to finish. Will Genia should send Sekope Kepu a Christmas card for blocking O’Connell from smother tackling him towards the end – it would have finished off what Ferris had started earlier!
6 Stephen Ferris– 8 Will be most remembered for clobbering Genia but let me ask you this – how often did you notice Rocky Elsom was actually playing? There really seemed to be only one man wearing six all night.
7 Sean O’Brien– 8.5 He was on fire, possibly too much so at times and got pinged. But made a try-saving tackle on Genia towards the end which was later overshadowed by O’Connor’s on Bowe and deserves a mention.
8 Jamie Heaslip – 6.5 I still think Jamie is getting a bad rap from fans, but he did give away the dumbest penalty of the night and was largely invisible, though I would argue that he seemed to be taking on the 7 duties in the rucks to free up O’Brien. I’ll put it this way – I sure wouldn’t dream of dropping him.
16 Sean Cronin – DID NOT PLAY
17 Tom Court– 6.5 Although he came on after Trimble I feel I have to rate him because he was involved in what could have been a key scrum towards the end. Massive ask for him to come on in that pressure cooker situation I know, but though nothing came of it he did after all concede the pen.
18 Donnacha Ryan – DID NOT PLAY
19 Denis Leamy – DID NOT PLAY
20 Conor Murray – 6.5 Showed his inexperience at a key scrum in his own 22 by not being able to switch out of box-kick mode when it wasn’t on. Probably needs to start against Russia to gain more experience, though it would be a n extremely tough call on Isaac Boss.
21 Ronan O’Gara – 7 Steadied the place-kicking ship, and did well around the field bar a couple of poorly judged kicks from the hand. Was delighted to see the emotion in his post-match interview – he never leaves you in any doubt as to where he stands.
22 Andrew Trimble – Didn’t play long enough to rate. I presume he won’t mind me saying I’m glad he wasn’t on too long as O’Driscoll’s blood replacement!
by JL Pagano