Player ratings from Ireland's Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat

Player ratings on a disappointing end to Ireland's Rugby World Cup campaign

Player ratings from Ireland's Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat

What can you say about that? This was as disappointing a performance as Ireland have put in against the All Blacks for years and looked second best in almost every facet. In reality, it was a bad, bad beating and the scars from this quarter-final loss will linger for a long time.

There was effort there, of course, but it looked futile against a ruthless New Zealand side that seemed to make hay off every Irish error. In the end, it could have been a 50-point plus defeat. Ireland will fly home with a lot of questions ringing in their ears and the new man, Andy Farrell, will have a major reset to bring about as he takes charge.

Ultimately, this World Cup ended in failure. That’s how the players will see it and it’s how we must see it. Let’s get to the ratings on a bad day for Irish rugby.

Ireland

15. Rob Kearney

When you look at Ireland’s back three in this game, you see a tale of players starved of possession. Kearney didn’t really get a chance to impose himself in the game because the quality of possession didn’t put him in position to be effective. 4/10

14. Keith Earls

Sevu Reece had 14 possessions. Keith Earls had six. Yet Ireland had 50% possession in this game. Earls made a few poor, yet understandable reads in defence and never really had a chance to get into the game. 4/10

13. Gary Ringrose

In November 2018, Ringrose was one of the key performers. Here, he looked a fair bit off the pace. He, along with Henshaw, spent the opening 20 minutes in the blood bin and struggled to find any rhythm. 3/10

12. Robbie Henshaw

Henshaw had a big job to come into this game after only the Samoa game to work with and looked well below his best throughout. He worked hard - they all did - but there was little end product bar a facile try at the end. 3/10

11. Jacob Stockdale

Like his back three partners, he just didn’t see enough of the ball and was targeted by the All Blacks on defence on a few occasions. 4/10

10. Johnny Sexton

If Ireland were to have a chance of winning here, it would be Sexton performing at close to his best. This was not it. Error after uncharacteristic error illustrated Ireland’s day in stark relief. So far below his best, it was shocking. 3/10

9. Conor Murray

A scrumhalf is often the canary in the coal mine for how the team is performing overall. Murray didn’t look great here and it reflected an overall malaise. No real errors but poor overall. 3/10

1. Cian Healy

For the first time, Healy looked a little off the pace at the top level of the game. You can’t call it a systemic decline because everyone else looked so poor alongside him. Solid in the scrum. 5/10

2. Rory Best

In the end, Rory Best’s legs looked like they were gone but his heart never gave out. A horrible end to a great career. Best deserved better, but in World Cups deserve has nothing to do with anything. A great servant to Irish rugby. 4/10

3. Tadhg Furlong

Ireland just didn’t get Furlong onto the ball often enough and, when they did, weren’t able to dominate the collisions as they have done in the past. 5/10

4. Iain Henderson

A poor performance from Henderson, looking back on it. He worked hard but couldn’t find any purchase in the game. 4/10

5. James Ryan

You expect a big work rate from Ryan - and we got that - but he was never in a position to be effective. Looked to be carrying the ball down blind alleys for much of his 80 minutes. He will be the bedrock on which any Irish rebuild will have to be based. 6/10

6. Peter O’Mahony

O’Mahony took a lot of heat before this game but for me, he was one of Ireland’s standout player. He stole lineouts, won breakdown penalties and worked incredibly hard in defence. 6/10

7. Josh Van Der Flier

Van Der Flier worked hard but looked like a guy who was faced with more fires than he could possibly hope to put out. I feel he’s better with the ball in hand than we’ve seen in the build-up to this tournament. 5/10

8. CJ Stander

Ireland’s top carrier and top tackler. When Ireland aren’t playing well, Stander gets it in the neck regardless of what happens out on the pitch. In Schmidt’s system, the no. 8 tends to be the one that takes on the most amount of donkey work. When it’s all going wrong, you need guys who keep showing up for work and Stander did that on both sides of the ball for 80 minutes. 6/10

Replacements

Provided some impetus but couldn’t even begin to climb the Everest left by the first-half horror show. Larmour, Beirne and Kilcoyne showed a bit of fight, at least. 4/10

New Zealand

15. Beauden Barrett

A masterful performance from Barrett. Freed from the shackles of #10, he could hit the line all over the field. Superb. 9/10

14. Sevu Reece

Reece displaced Ben Smith in the leadup to this World Cup and this game was an illustration of why. Powerful, hard running and constantly dangerous 9/10

13. Jack Goodhue

Hugely effective stuff from the heir apparent to the All Blacks #13 shirt. Powerful in defence and really efficient with the ball in hand 8/10

12. Anton Lienert-Brown

Lienert-Brown was brought into the All Blacks XV during this World Cup to add physicality to their midfield and he more than delivered. Excellent 8/10

11. George Bridge

The man who’s quietly replaced Reiko Ioane during 2019 had a super slick game on the wing for the All Blacks. Solid under the high ball, excellent in transition and looking like a guy with 60 caps, not 6. 9/10

10. Richie Mo'unga

Mo’unga had 40 possessions in this game and maximised every one of them. He was by far the best outhalf on the pitch and controlled the game with dynamic pace and decision making. 9/10

9. Aaron Smith

Smith was top drawer. Playing behind a pack that was winning collisions and generating quick ball is usually the precursor to a big performance from Aaron Smith and this was no different. 9/10

1. Joe Moody

Very solid work from Moody. Nailed the basics in the scrum and worked very hard in defence. 7/10

2. Codie Taylor

A really big day in the scrum from Taylor. He’s turned into one of the best hookers on the planet over the last 18 months. 9/10

3. Nepo Laulala

Very solid from the newbie tighthead. He brings a lot of weight and power around the field outside of his solid scrum/lineout basics. 8/10

4. Brodie Retallick

You wouldn’t think he was only on the way back from an injury, would you? That’s just how good he is. One of the top passers on the field, which will tell you something about the All Blacks approach. 9/10

5. Sam Whitelock

Whitelock is at the top of his game over the last 12 months, especially in Retallick’s absence. His work at the breakdown was really strong and his lineout work was impeccable. 8/10

6. Ardie Savea

The standout forward on the pitch for me. He’s just so complete. Massive defensive work rate, a menace at the breakdown and a livewire in possession. 9/10

7. Sam Cane

Cane needed to tailor his game to allow Savea a more expansive role and he was really effective in the first half. 7/10

8. Kieran Read

His game has changed over the years but it’s a testament to him that he’s still comfortably on top of the game. He’s bigger and heavier than he was in his “prime” but Read has redefined what a “prime” is and how long it lasts. Excellent. 9/10

Replacements

The All Blacks kept up the pressure as they transitioned to their bench early. Any hope of an Irish fightback was extinguished quickly enough. 7/10

Ultimately, this game was an example of what happens when Ireland are forced to play with a ropey first phase game off the set-piece and without reliable possession in the narrow areas of the field.

In 2018, Ireland had 11 turnovers and the All Blacks made 17. Here, Ireland had 17 turnovers and the All Blacks had 9. That statistical turnaround was a killer. Throw in some missed penalties to touch at key points and the All Blacks punishing every error with tries or massive territory gains, and you have got a picture of how Ireland lost this game and exited the World Cup without ever really firing a shot.

The inquisition will be tough and must be relentless. There’s no point in throwing the baby out with the bathwater but, at the same time, questions have to be asked on how Ireland went from a Grand Slam in 2018 to a year of flat, heavy performances before the usual QF exit, albeit to an excellent All Blacks side. This isn’t the exit that Schmidt deserved but Rugby World Cups rarely provide for fairy tale endings. A tough end to a difficult, frustrating 2019 for Irish rugby.

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