Player ratings from an afternoon to forget for Johnny Sexton (and others)

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Player ratings from an afternoon to forget for Johnny Sexton (and others)

Owen Harrison gives his verdict on each player as Ireland lost 24-12 to England.


1. Cian Healy: Only lasted 25 minutes before a hip injury forced him to be replaced by Dave Kilcoyne. 5/10

2. Rob Herring: Was excellent in defence and his lineout throwing was generally good. Failed to make an impact with ball in hand in a tight five lacking effective heavy carriers. Ronan Kelleher must be favourite to get the start against Italy. 6/10.

3. Tadgh Furlong: Under pressure at times in the scrum and despite making his tackles he could’nt impose himself on the game. Failed to make any impact with ball in hand and is now under pressure from Porter for the starting jersey. 5/10

4. Devin Toner: The game passed him by for the most part. He was central to Irelands lineout and maul tactics but offered little else in open play. Ian Henderson’s impact was sorely missed. 5/10.

5. James Ryan: He was the shining light in an otherwise disappointing Irish tight five. Physically he was one of the few to match his English counterparts and wasn’t afraid to put his or other peoples bodies on the line. Some of his ruck clearances were borderline legal but he led from the front and showed to many why he is considered an Irish captain in waiting. 8/10.

6. Peter O’Mahony: Excellent in the lineout, putting pressure on England when Ireland did look to compete. Made his tackles and surprisingly was very effective when used as a heavy carrier. Played an important role in the lead up to Henshaws try. 7/10

7. Josh van der Flier: The battle of the breakdown was won due to physical domination of the English forwards and despite a high work rate he struggled to impose himself on the game due to the superiority of the English pack. Wasn’t involved much ball in hand and missed a few tackles. 5/10.

8. CJ Stander: Does the man ever have a bad game? He toiled continually through the game, leading the stats in both tackles and carries. A willing carrier and defender all day and his attitude was encapsulated with how he dealt with the off the ball “shenanigans” from England. 8/10.

9. Conor Murray: His exit kicks help stem the tide in the opening 15 minutes but after that his kicking game fell apart. His box kicks were off the mark, he was blocked down and his clearance kicks failed to make touch costing Ireland vital territory. He had a positive impact for Henshaw’s try but it was a disappointing 55 mins. 4/10.

10. Johnny Sexton: An afternoon to forget for the captain. He couldn’t control Youngs grubber which gifted Ford England’s first try. His kicking was unusually inaccurate with both kicks at goal duck-hooked badly. There’s not much a half back can do when the front five is being pulverised but Sexton didn’t seem to be able to add much to the Irish attack and struggled with the rush defence. 3/10.

11. Jacob Stockdale: Like Conway, he suffered from a lack of ball out on the wing. When moved to full back in the second half he was able to hit the line more often and impact play. Surprisingly he was targeted successfully in the air early on and his indecision on Fords kick which allow Daly an easy try was inexcusable. 4/10.

12. Bundee Aki: Suffered from poor ball being shipped on and a lightening quick blitz defence which meant he could offer little in attack. A willing carrier all day and made his tackles but couldn’t make enough positive impacts on the game. 6/10.

13. Robbie Henshaw: A workmanlike performance with his 50th minute try the obvious highlight. He carried well and made his tackles but it was his opposite number who dominated the gainline. Lucky to get away with the tackle on Joseph in the second half. 6/10

14. Andrew Conway: The fact he barely got to touch the ball was symptomatic of the problems inside him. His defence was excellent and his early tackle on Tuilagi was a try saver. 6/10.

15 Jordan Larmour: His positioning was targeted by England’s kicking game and he lost the early aerial battles. The defensive system with both wingers high in the line leaves him exposed in open play, as seen for May’s try, and also means transition plays tend to be more individual than team based. 5/10


Ronan Kelleher – One crooked through aside he made a significant impact when he came. Didn’t lack physically and looked to be an effective heavy carrier. 7/10

Dave Kilcoyne – Replaced Healy after 25 minute and while he offered himself as a willing carrier he didn’t have his usual impact with ball in hand. 6/10

Andrew Porter – Although he conceded a penalty in his first scrum his carrying and overall physicality helped Ireland up the tempo in the second half. Deserved his try near the end. 7/10

Ultan Dillane – He came off the bench to make his first Ireland appearance in nearly 12 months and helped to up the tempo in the second half. 5/10

Caelan Doris – Made some positive impacts off the bench especially with ball in hand. Will hopefully see more gametime against Italy. 6/10

John Cooney – Sprang from the bench on 55 minutes and made some positive impacts. His link play out wide and speed of service helped turn the tide for Ireland. Will count his blessings that England didn’t score when May stole the ball from him. 7/10

Ross Byrne – When he went to out half Ireland seemed better able to counter Englands rush defence. Not on long enough to rate

Keith Earls – Brought a creative spark to the Ireland backline when he came on. Once again this Six Nations he seems to be one of the few Irish backs capable of creating space with a deft pass. Not on long enough to rate.


1. Joe Marler: A major part of England having a solid scrum platform. He limited Furlong’s involvement in the loose by tying him up in the tight all day. 7/10.

2. Jamie George: Ireland used O’Mahony to pressure his throw and he wasn’t as impacting in the loose as normal. 6/10

3. Kyle Sinckler: Excellent in the tight and loose and managed to stay on the field for nearly 70 minutes as well. 8/10.

4. Maro Itoje: Was everywhere and a constant thorn in Irish sides. He provided the power in the scrum, he took his own ball in the lineout and challenged on the Irish throw. He tackled all day long and he managed to wind up several Irish players. 9/10.

5 George Kruis: Set piece excellent with his power in the scrum and calling of the lineout. 8/10.

6. Courtney Lawes: Excellent in the lineout and one of the main reasons England won the physicality stakes upfront. Never took a backward step and his tackle and carry workrate was outstanding. 9/10.

7 Sam Underhill: Top of the tackles made and dominant tackles stats. Due to the dominance of the English front five he was lying in wait for the Irish midfield and able to snuff out attacks before they could get going. 8/10.

8. Tom Curry: He missed the tackle on Henshaw to allow Ireland score their opening try. Looked more comfortable when moved back to his natural position of flanker. 7/10.

9 Ben Youngs: He had an armchair ride for a 100th cap due to the dominance of his pack. While at times his decision making was suspect his kicking game tormented the Irish backs three in particular. 7/10.

10 George Ford: Ran the game superbly for England and rarely looked under pressure. Took his try well and it was his kick that set up Daly’s try. 8/10.

11. Jonathan Joseph: His first start at wing but he never looked out of place. He took space when it appeared and chased the kicks all day long. 7/10.

12. Owen Farrell: Not his most influential game but he did the basics well and was 100% off the tee. He supported Ford with his kicking game and released the backs when it was on. Got involved in some off the ball stuff that cost his team but he still has bragging rights in the Farrell household this week. 7/10.

13. Manu Tuilagi: Almost as influential as Billy Vunipola. He dominated the gain line and every collision. He got England onto the front foot time and time again in the first half. 9/10.

14. Jonny May: Worked hard but Ireland’s wingers stopped him making his trade mark gliding transition runs. 7/10.

15 Elliot Daly: Won the aerial battle against Larmour and Stockdale early on. His territorial kicking was a big factor in keeping the pressure on Ireland in the first half. Work rate was excellent and the reason he scored his try from Stockdales mistake. 8/10.

Replacements: Of the English replacements it was Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ellis Genge who has the biggest impact. Cowan Dickie took his try well and his set piece looked strong. He must now be putting pressure on George for the starting jersey. Ellis Genge is someone who doesn’t like going backwards in the scrum, tackle or with ball in hand. He won a big penalty against Porter in the scrum on his introduction.

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