Six Nations 2013 Scotland v Ireland: Ireland player ratings

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15. Rob Kearney – 5
Untroubled at the back, and threatening at times but in general this was another quiet performance from Kearney who now finds himself in a real battle for his once-assured Lions jersey.

14. Craig Gilroy – 6
Luke Marshall’s misplaced pass meant we had to wait until after the interval for Gilroy to register the only try of the game, his first in a Six Nations fixture. Ireland will hope to see more of Gilroy running in the remaining rounds.

13. Brian O’Driscoll – 6
Irish rugby analyst George Hook described this as O’Driscoll’s worst performance in a decade. Even at that the former captain would have scored if Keith Earls had the presence of mind to look inside, and he’s still the one man his teammates look to for a moment of inspiration.

12. Luke Marshall – 7
Ireland had an attacking threat at inside centre for the first time in a number of years as Marshall enjoyed a terrific debut at Murrayfield. He butchered an opportunity to put Gilroy in the corner after his second clean break, and might have done better with a loose ball in the Irish 22 as the pressure came on from Scotland. Otherwise there was a lot to suggest Marshall has a very bright future in green.

11. Keith Earls – 5
Back starting on the left wing, a sign that Declan Kidney (if he’s still around) will possibly look elsewhere for Brian O’Driscoll’s replacement in the centre. Earls crucially, selfishly even, took the wrong option when a simple inside pass would have put O’Driscoll under the posts.

10. Paddy Jackson – 5
Controversially picked ahead of the veteran O’Gara, he has since come under fire having missed three of his four kicks at goal and failed to find touch from a penalty which subsequently gave Scotland a foothold in the game. Clearly comfortable with the ball in his hands, and the experience will benefit him should he be called upon in the remaining two fixtures.

9. Conor Murray – 4
Had time and space to make an impact on the game, but hesitated too often and allowed the Scottish defensive line to pressure Irish ball carriers. Eoin Reddan coming off the bench stepped up the pace, and might be given an opportunity to displace a disappointing Murray against France in a fortnight.

1. Tom Court – 6
Deservedly recalled as Cian Healy serves his suspension for stamping on Dan Cole in the previous round, Court combined well in the scrum with his provincial teammate Best but was quiet in the loose.

2. Rory Best – 5
Ireland’s stand out performer in the championship thus far will be seeing six-foot-eight Jim Hamilton in his nightmares over the coming nights as the giant lock pressured the Irish lineout to malfunction. While it’s not always clear cut enough to lay the blame entirely on the hooker, Best wasn’t as effective in the loose as often as usual either. Not a great afternoon altogether.

3. Mike Ross – 6
As usual the Leinster tight-head was there to secure a solid platform at scrum-time, which he did for the most part making exception for one technical penalty. Ross didn’t contribute much else, other than a couple of strong carries but he remains irreplaceable.

4. Donncha O’Callaghan – 6
Primarily used as a late replacement recently, the original Donncha in the engine room had a difficult afternoon up against a Scottish pair which competed for every ball and every inch.

5. Donnacha Ryan – 7
Likewise, the younger Donnacha was up against a strong Scottish second-row but perhaps had a little more success than his older compatriot in the loose.

6. Peter O’Mahony – 6
O’Mahony fights for every metre gained, but unfortunately found life tough going particularly after half-time. It’s to his credit though that despite taking static ball on numerous occasions it always takes two or three tacklers to bring him down.

7. Sean O’Brien – 7
Guilty of conceding a daft penalty as Ireland found themselves frustrated at going behind, but otherwise O’Brien made another strong case for Lions selection. He slipped after a typically barnstorming run, breaking through two tackles and leaving the Scottish defence in tatters.

8. Jamie Heaslip – 5
Individually this was an improvement after a disappointing display against England. His captaincy has come under serious scrutiny however. There was worrying a level of indecisiveness from the new captain, and a lack of urgency as Ireland pushed for a winning score late in the game.

Replacements:
Eoin Reddan was a lively alternative at scrum-half, replacing the cumbersome Murray with ten minutes left on the clock. And if that substitution should have come earlier, Devin Toner’s introduction would have given Ireland an extra five inches in the lineout. It was great to see Luke Fitzgerald back in a green jersey but the game passed him by for the most part, while Iain Henderson had little opportunity to impress during his short stint.

The pivotal call, however, came with the arrival of veteran Ronan O’Gara immediately after Scotland had taken the lead for the first time. Did Declan Kidney hit the panic button? It was certainly a clear illustration of his lack of trust in young Jackson to complete the job. In the end O’Gara was no saviour, his frightful cross-field pass-come-chip providing further proof of his recent, possibly final, fall in fortunes.

By David Blair
@viscount_dave

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9 comments on “Six Nations 2013 Scotland v Ireland: Ireland player ratings

  1. perhaps Kidney needs to look to Exeters Steenson at fly and perhaps the IRFU need to think of Conor Oshea to replace Kidney as Ireland seemed to be bereft of ideas two games they could have won even with injuries

  2. Was Kearney’s Lions jersey ever assured? Going as far back as 2011, there has been one, maybe two periods where I would have chosen him over Halfpenny.

    • Kearney was European player of the year 2012 – would Halfpenney get the nod at the moment? Maybe, but there’s probably room for them both in the 23, or even the starting 15 with Halfpenney on the wing.

  3. Murray has succumbed to Mike Phillips disease – he’s read so much about his game being about being big and aggressive that he is now prioritising being a mouthy arse over passing properly.

    Jackson had some wobbly moments but how much worse would it have been if ROG had been on from the start?

  4. 5 is a little harsh on the Green “Jackson-10″. I thought that he was the one that enabled the Irish to break the Scottish line time and again, something that ROG clearly failed to do (what the hell was that kick all about?? Its a bit late in the career to start mimicking Carlos Spencer!).

    I think that Marshall owes Jackson one of his points ;-)

  5. Disappointing show from you fly half far too young no experience. Why has it been that GARETH STEENSON (EXETER)is continually overlooked? I followed him when he played for Ireland U21s for 2 years got the golden boot accolade and captained the side in Argentina. Kicked 9 out of 9 on Saturday past against London Welsh and has a stat of over 80%. If he were kicking yesterday Ireland would have won comfortably…….

  6. I’m still backing Jackson, and I’m not even an Ulster supporter!

    Even though his kicking wasn’t as accurate as it should be, it should have been expected as he isn’t even the first choice kicker within his own team. He was extremely dangerous with ball in hand and made good and quick decisions, especially seeing how Murray always charges for the line before FINALLY giving the bloody pass.

    I sincerely hope Earls will be dropped. Get Trimble in, or Fitzy and Trimble on the bench. Earls made 2 line breaks in the England game which was basically the sole attacking threat the irish had genuinely made, but obviously he just hasn’t got the goods to make it in international rugby yet. Trimble on the other hand is well established and has been playing brilliantly for Ulster!

    Ferris is still sorely missed. He always was the unheralded workhorse of the Irish, and they’re missing him now. O’Mahoney is playing good enough to remain in the team, O’Brien is doing brilliantly, so I guess we all know who’s spot is not guaranteed anymore.

    Credit where it’s due: Marshall is finally the answer to the D’Arcy dilemma, I can’t wait to see him play well together with BOD when he’s there. BOD has had an all right game for anyones standards, but not such a great one for his, a trait which comes with greatness. I assume we are going to see him work tirelessly against the Italians and the French, if they wave a couple of plane tickets in front of his nose for long enough.

    I do however, have to commend the Irish defence. The much vaunted Scottish back 3 were shackled, as was Hogg. If Kidney has to resign, Kiss should be kept, his work with the irish defence is exemplary.

    All in all, not a bad game, but now Ireland are the team with the thousand chances but no clinical edge and the scots the men who learned to lose ugly. Interesting how the celtic pendulum swings.

    • I’m also here for Ulsterman Jackson! But the way in which he was replaced made me want to turn vandal so much I almost ripped up my own sofa!

      I have seen such bone headed decisions like that before, Such as when James Hook was hooked during the 2011 RWC.

      Such knee jerk reactions will only achieve the undermining of confidence in a young player, no matter how talented.

      BOD was good in a scrambling game and missed out on a try by a few blades of heahter. Most probably didn’t see his courageous work in defence. Because he gives 110% on a regular basis, 109% is seen as below his stellar standards.

      ROG needs to make the first move and stand aside. He has given us his best and his bag of tricks is almost empty.

      And it’s time BOD’s plane tickets had Stdney as their destination. As a Waratahs fan, it was too painful to watch Ireland bite the dust on the same weekend.

      As one who wagers on a weekly basis, I will be eating fish fingers for the remainder of this one.

  7. If anything can be taken from last Sunday, it is that 23 Irish players gave a first class lesson in how to not win a game!
    My concern about the sacking of Kidney is that on Sunday, Ireland had all the tactics, and skills, and game plan to win comprehensively against a mediocre (yet confident) Scotland, but as players they did not execute as they should. How much will changing the coach improve this?