2018 Six Nations: Ireland player ratings vs Italy
Here’s how Joe Schmidt’s men performed in a comfortable 56-19 win on a lovely sunny afternoon at Lansdowne Road.
Ireland did everything you could’ve asked of them on Saturday. They got the bonus point and now find themselves on top of the pile going into matchday three, but it was at a cost. Here’s how the Irish got on.
1. Jack McGrath – 7
Scrummed well and got through a mountain of work at the breakdown. Needed to show more to clearly oust Cian Healy for the Wales game. Big call for Joe Schmidt to make.
2. Rory Best – 8
Set out the team’s stall with the early call to go to the corner rather than take the points. His darts found a green jersey every time, led from the front and capped it all off with a try. Approaching full fitness and form and just the right time for the skipper.
3. Tadhg Furlong – N/A
Wasn’t on long enough to rate. Waiting to see what the prognosis is on his hamstring though Schmidt seemed pretty confident that his No. 3 would be back for Wales. Hamstring injuries are a tricky business though, expect him to be wrapped in cotton wool for the next few days.
4. Iain Henderson – 7
Was targeted by the Italians for his carries, but ultimately won the arm wrestle up front and did all his normal duties to a typically high standard. More to come from the Ulsterman.
5. Devin Toner – 7
The style Ireland set out to play didn’t suit the big Meath man, but his presence at the lineout was felt. He provided a platform from which to attack and contributed in defence and at the breakdown.
6. Peter O’Mahony – 8
Like Toner, his presence can have a massive influence on the team, the difference is that O’Mahony’s presence could be felt everywhere. Nuisance at the breakdown, superb at the lineout and carried with the bloody-mindedness and complete disregard for his own safety that we’ve all come to expect from the Cork man.
7. Dan Leavy – 8
Great performance from Leavy. On the odd time the Azzurri had the ball he disrupted their play. He slowed their ruck ball down to a snails pace and tackled like a demon and provided quick ball for Conor Murray to dictate the game. A pure openside performance if I ever saw one.
8. Jack Conan – 7
Got sucked into a forwards battle in the first half, but didn’t get his chance to shine in the second with a bang to the knee. Lovely little pass in the build up Murray’s try and he did his basics well.
9. Conor Murray – 9
When he was on the pitch Italy didn’t even have a sniff of a score and that’s the difference between Murray and the rest. He knows how to play when to play and where to play. Only gets a nine because he played behind a dominant pack and only played 50 minutes. Created and took his try beautifully.
10. Jonathan Sexton – 8
Played second fiddle to Murray today but ran his backline like a well-oiled machine and was flawless from the tee. Will be happy to take a step out of the limelight after last weeks heroics.
11. Jacob Stockdale – 8
Got caught out a couple of times in defence again which is worrying. His attacking play though was exemplary and has that rare ability of knowing when to come off his wing and when not to. His first try was a perfect example of that. Now has a flawless record of six tries in six Tests. The man knows how to cross the whitewash.
12. Bundee Aki – 8
Threw a few loose passes in the beginning but grew into the game and showed great instincts to set up Keith Earls try. Ran a superb line also to get over for himself also. Needs to polish the rough edges but is growing into the Test jersey.
13. Robbie Henshaw – 8
Wishing Robbie all the best and a very speedy recovery though Schmidt didn’t rule him out of the Six Nations Championship just yet. He was excellent today however. He marshaled the defence and his intercept try was unbelievable. Fingers crossed he’s okay for the Wales game.
14. Keith Earls – 9
Try saving tackle at the death showed exactly what Earls is all about, refused to give up on the chase even when the game was already won (We may look at that moment should the championship come down to points difference). He scraps for absolutely everything and took his try with aplomb. Class in everything he does.
15. Rob Kearney – 6
Nothing went Kearney’s way and his day was summed up when referee Romain Poite blocked the ball for what would’ve been a certain try. A loose kick also led to an Italian try late on. Played well otherwise.
16. Sean Cronin – 6
Put himself about as he always does from the bench and got stuck in. Great to see him back.
17. Cian Healy – 6
Didn’t have a lot of time to make an impact. Did nothing wrong, nor did he do anything to say “I’m your man” to Schmidt who has a call to make for the loosehead slot against Wales.
18. Andrew Porter – 8
Had big shoes to fill after coming on early and completed nearly the full 80. In that position on the field this was a testament to his own fitness and Joe Schmidt ticking all the boxes and ensuring that all his players are prepared for any situation they are dropped into.
19. Quinn Roux = 6
An early dropped ball was the only real moment that stood out for me which is unfair because he worked hard and did little else wrong. Wonder how many more chances between now and 2019 he will get to impress. Is now seventh in my pecking order in the lock position.
20. CJ Stander – 7
Carried hard and gave Ireland go forward ball in the closing stages. Silly penalty led to Italian try. Otherwise good showing.
21. Kieran Marmion – 6
Did his best to make an impact with quick ball but the Italian fitness didn’t give in the way it usually does. He should have looked to play for territory and he played too much football in the wrong areas of the pitch, which culminated in two loose kicks for which Ireland paid the price.
22. Joey Carbery – 6
Nailed his kicks, but again like Marmion failed to take charge and play in the right areas of the pitch late on. Earls bailed him out also after a hospital pass that almost let Italy in again to score.
23. Jordan Larmour – 5
Naïve is the word that springs to mind when I think of his much anticipated debut. He missed a one on one in defence and shot out too early for another, both leading to Azzurri tries. On the other hand, he created an opportunity out of absolutely nothing. He sold the Italian front row down the Liffey with that step. You can coach defence, but you can’t teach that natural instinct for offensive play. The potential is exciting.
What do you think of our ratings? Let us know in the comments!