Ireland player ratings: Few crumbs of comfort 

Fans will be left wondering how Ireland can cope against teams they can’t physically overpower
Ireland player ratings: Few crumbs of comfort 

A case of déjà vu all over again as, for the fourth time in succession, Ireland were completely dominated in their loss to England. Andy Farrell’s side had no answer to England’s physicality and defensive line speed. The score line of 18-7 flattered Ireland who had the majority of the possession and territory but could do little with ball in hand.

While the Autumn Nations Cup provides Ireland with a chance to blood new players and combinations there were few positives to see on the Twickenham pitch and fans will be left wondering how Ireland can cope against teams they can’t physically overpower. We are still waiting to see Farrell impose his own mark on the teams playing style and the fact England haven’t changed their style significantly in the last two years raises questions if this coaching ticket can find a way to out think or out play opponents larger than them.

Ireland ratings

Cian Healy – 5/10 A long day at the office for the loosehead in the scrum which seemed to take its toll on his workrate around the field. A similar result for Healy as the Leinster versus Saracens quarter-final with the English forwards once again asserting their dominance.

Ronan Kelleher – 5/10 The lineout problems were not all down to the hooker but he certainly won’t enjoy the video review of his overthrow that led to England’s second try. He put himself about physically with and without the ball. He will benefit from the experience but keeping the two jersey is far from guaranteed.

Andrew Porter – 6/10 Strange to see a prop on for the full 80 especially in a side requiring fresh legs. Struggled early in the scrum but battled back to gain some parity against his opponent and even won the odd penalty. A willing carrier time after time but up against such a dominant defence he couldn’t impose himself as he would normally.

Quinn Roux – 5/10 Brought into the team to solidify the scrum and hold the English maul. Did all that was asked of him as a tighthead lock by putting himself about and trying to match the English physicality but as expected wasn’t as effective as he was against Wales.

James Ryan – 6/10 Not the start he would have like to his Ireland captaincy. He tried to make his mark physically and while he wasn’t lacking in effort he was certainly outshone by the English contenders in the battle for the Lions second row spots.

CJ Stander – 6/10 Like those around him he struggled to get over the gain line and make an impact on the game. Quiet with ball in hand and at the breakdown. Saved a certain England try but subbed on 65 minutes.

Peter O’Mahony – 7/10 Effective with ball in hand both in the tight and wider channels. A thorn in the English side at both the lineout and maul. A nuisance at the breakdown as well wining crucial turnovers at both ends of the pitch.

Caelan Dorris – 7/10 Fantastic work rate from the Leinster man who is fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet. Constantly offered himself as a carrying option and ran into white brick walls all day for the cause. 

Jamison Gibson-Park – 5/10 Ireland had over 60% territory and possession but it was tough day for the scrum-half behind a well beaten pack. Not his fault but it wasn’t an easy watch for fans to see the nine kick the ball away so much especially in attacking positions. Lucky not to concede a try through poor decision making on his own line.

Ross Byrne – 5/10 Another disappointing day in Twickenham for the young out-half. Whether by design or default he was set so deep in the pocket to combat the English line speed that it constantly put his side under pressure. He offered little threat with ball in hand and allowed the English blitz to rush up with little fear of repercussion.

James Lowe – 6/10 Seemed to take a while to settle into the game and was forced to use his kicking game far more than he would normally have to.

Bundee Aki – 6/10 A quiet day for the Connacht man. Byrne sitting in the pocket put Aki on the back foot with a blitzing English defence closing down space and options. The few times he did get front foot ball he showed what he was capable of.

Chris Farrell – 6/10 Will be unhappy that he didn’t score from Ross Byrne’s grubber but he was one of the few Irish players that offered consistent go forward ball in team going backwards.

Keith Earls – 8/10 Irelands most threatening player by a mile, but the fact Ireland couldn’t put him into space was a result of problems up front and the tactical kicking. Chased kicks all day long and when afforded the chance his footwork and speed saw him cause England problems.

Hugo Keenan – 6/10 His fielding of the high ball was solid but he was beaten in the air for England’s first try. He covered the backfield well for England’s tactical kicking but failed to ignite Irelands counter attack play.

Replacements:

Rob Herring added energy and some solidity to the lineout. Iain Henderson replaced Quinn Roux but like many others failed to make a meaningful impression on the game. Conor Murray was able to up the tempo of the Ireland attack with the zip on his pass and he maintained the team tactic of constantly kicking the ball away. Billy Burns sat much closer to the gain line than Byrne and from this he was able to chip the onrushing defence to set Jacob Stockdale up for this 18th test try.

Follow Owen Harrison on twitter: @Overthehillprop

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