Ireland player ratings: Efforts of Ryan and Stander the highlight on a bad night

Ireland showed they had a game that could generate opportunity and position against this French side
Ireland player ratings: Efforts of Ryan and Stander the highlight on a bad night

Ireland's CJ Stander during the 6 Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture: PA Wire via MaxPPP. 

When Pascal Gauzere informed Owen Farrell that the penalty England thought they had won in the dying embers of their game against Italy had been reversed, Owen’s father Andy might have cracked a smile.

A few seconds later, after the young Venetian Paolo Garbisi tapped and kicked the ball into the empty stands of the Stadio Olimpico, you’d have forgiven Andy Farrell for breaking out into a grin.

Yes, England had won in Rome with a bonus point but the landslide predicted before the game never occurred thanks to a spiky Italian display that limited Eddie Jones side to a 29-point win.

That set the stage for Paris - a bonus-point win would always secure the championship for Ireland but events in Rome meant that any flavour of victory - as long as it was by six points or more - would do the job.

But that’s not how it worked out. Far from it in the end.

In a game where Ireland needed to be error-free and methodical in their tactical approach, they were error-ridden and headless, at times. An encouraging first 30 minutes was undone by basic errors and rash decision making on penalty advantage. The last 10 minutes was defined by basic errors and missed opportunities.

Even then, Ireland showed they had a game that could generate opportunity and position against this French side.

Ultimately, Ireland just weren’t good enough for long enough to get the job done against a physical, resurgent French side who look primed to boss this Championship for the next few years.

Here’s how the Ireland players rated.

Cian Healy: A decent, workmanlike performance from Healy on his 100th cap. He took his try well, worked hard. 6/10

Rob Herring: Hard to find too much fault with his performance on first viewing but, equally, it’s hard to find too many positives either. 5/10

Andrew Porter: I thought Porter scrummaged really well and was his usual physical self around the breakdown but he struggled to impose himself on-ball. 6/10

Tadhg Beirne: Beirne carried really well, took some good lineout ball and won a few key penalties. He’s shown in the last two weeks that he’s a viable option at test level. 6/10

James Ryan: This was a better James Ryan performance than last week, oddly enough, but still not close to the force of nature we know he can be. Hard work, big moments in the tight collisions but something’s missing, be it in who partners him or what his role is. 7/10

Caelan Doris: This was a tough game for the young Mayo man. Ignore the yellow card, he had little choice but to infringe, but I felt he struggled to impose himself on the game with ball in hand and didn’t have a strong game in the tight exchanges. 5/10

Will Connors: Connors is a proper player but he failed to impact this game as he did last week against Italy. It’s a big step up, in fairness, and while he had some good moments ball in hand, some good stops and good breakdown work I felt our game moved away from what suited him. 6/10

CJ Stander: You know what you’re going to get from Stander and he produced again here - breakdown steals, hard carries, more passing than he’ll ever be given credit for and the usual teak-tough performance that has typified his years at test level. The balance around him does not seem right but his performance was a highlight on a bad night for Ireland. 7/10

Conor Murray: Hard to say where Murray played poorly but, as ever, the scrumhalf is the systemic canary in the coal mine. If there are problems inside and outside, he’ll be the one eating the blame. 5/10

Johnny Sexton: There’ll be questions over some of Sexton’s decisions to go down the line with three points waiting on the tee but as captain and kicker, he will have to own those. He cut a frustrated figure leaving the field, as you’d expect, but this was far from a vintage performance. 5/10

Hugo Keenan: Some good chase, some decent carries but the game largely passed him by. 5/10

Bundee Aki: This was one of Aki’s poorer games. Everything just seems to be happening half a second behind or ahead of him and he wasn’t able to impact the game as he can and has. 5/10

Robbie Henshaw: Henshaw’s try was one of the highlights of the game from an Irish perspective. Is he a better 13 than a 12? Yes, I would say, but that leads to more problems than answers for Ireland at the moment and going forward. Decent. 6/10

Andrew Conway: Much like Keenan, Conway did everything asked of him on the kick chase and on the few occasions when he got the ball back on transition but he wasn’t able to impact on the game in any meaningful way. 5/10

Jacob Stockdale: This was comfortably one of Stockdale’s poorer games for Ireland but does that mean he’s not a fullback? Some of the errors could easily have happened on the wing but I get the feeling that he’s in a tough spot with others putting their hands up at provincial level and the shadow of James Lowe looming over the #11 shirt that looked like it would be Stockdale’s for the next 10 years in 2018. He hasn’t turned into a bad player overnight but this game will be ample ammo for his detractors. The next game can’t come soon enough for him. 4/10

Bench: O’Mahony and Dillane had some decent moments off the bench but there was no real impact from the replacement front row or outside backs.

Follow Tom Savage on Twitter @threeredkings

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