15. Rob Kearney – 7.5/10
Did what was asked of him extremely well. I’m not sure his try against Russia will be his last at this World Cup.
14. Tommy Bowe – 8/10
If Kearney is due a try, how about poor Tommy? Should have had two but for shoddy officiating. Back to his best in the line-running department and set up his captain’s opening try.
13. Brian O’Driscoll – 7.5/10
When Kaplan told him about Healy reacting to having someone’s finger in his eye, the skipper replied : “How would YOU react?”. As always he was right where he needed to be at all times.
12. Gordon D’Arcy – 8/10
Hopefully the sweating over the Irish 12 jersey is over now. Tough in the tackle and now the strong running is back – and we’re definitely going to need that against the Welsh.
11. Keith Earls – 7.5/10
Two tries for the birthday boy – and we’ll forgive him for his dodgy dive for the second one as well.
10. Ronan O’Gara – 7/10
Made the kicks that mattered and played his part in the back line moves that destroyed the Italian midfield.
9. Conor Murray – 7/10
Despite his youth he appears just as clued in to what this squad is doing as the rest of them. Not sure he should start against Wales though.
1. Cian Healy – 7/10
Hopefully he hasn’t shown himself up as a “hothead” target for the much stronger teams he is yet to face at this World Cup but all round a solid display and now even kicking for territory seems to be in his repertoire!
2. Rory Best – 7.5/10
Was having another quality outing all round the park before landing awkwardly on his shoulder. No offence to Cronin, but Irish fans will be mighty relieved if Best can start in Wellington.
3. Mike Ross – 7.5/10
Steady as she goes in the front row for Rossy despite all the trash-talk about front row dominance by the Italians.
4. Donncha O’Callaghan – 6.5/10
I’m loathe to dip under 7 for anyone in the squad but if if I had to pick one it would be DOC – he doesn’t stand out but is there to do a job at set pieces and gets it done.
5. Paul O’Connell – 7.5/10
I dare say we could have rested the great man altogether and still won comfortably. Hopefully his hamstring concerns won’t amount to much.
6. Stephen Ferris – 8.5/10
Nick Mallet was banging on about the front row when in reality he was probably quaking at the knees over our back one. Fearsome stuff from all three of them.
7. Sean O’Brien – 9/10
You may try to suggest he wasn’t man of the match, but even if you didn’t have a hole in your argument, Sean would make one.
8. Jamie Heaslip – 8.5/10
Turnovers, line out security, even the odd surge forward or two. Getting better every week.
16. Sean Cronin – 7/10
Sort out your line out throws, Sean, and you’ll be fine against the Welsh.
17. Tom Court – Didn’t play long enough to rate
18. Donnacha Ryan – 7/10
Fully justifies his presence in the match day 22 for his versatility in my book.
19. Denis Leamy – Didn’t play long enough to rate
20. Eoin Reddan – Didn’t play long enough to rate (but still did enough to start next week in my opinion)
21. Jonathan Sexton – 7/10
Many a test fly-half would have been crushed with such poor form with the boot in recent weeks, but although the game was over as a contest at the time, that conversion from the touchline was immense for Sexton. And a try-saving tackle and turnover on Gori didn’t hurt his chances for selection next week either.
22. Andrew Trimble – Didn’t play long enough to rate (though he did set up Earls’ second try)
By JL Pagano