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Here's how we rated Joe Schmidt's Ireland in the four-try win over Scotland

Kearney, Ringrose and Leavy were all superb at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon.

IRELAND SET UP a blockbuster Grand Slam bid at Twickenham next weekend by recording their fourth victory of this year’s Six Nations over Scotland this afternoon. Here’s how we rated Joe Schmidt’s side.

Rob Kearney with Blair Kinghorn Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rob Kearney: 9

A big game from Ireland’s fullback. Heavily involved in the early stages as Sexton tested Scotland’s back three with an aerial bombardment, and again the fullback showed all of his worth in the air, forcing Russell to knock on and then athletically gathering another towering up-and-under on this near side.

Also made a crucial contribution before Ireland’s third try by retrieving Sexton’s loose kick to win the scrum, which in turn led to Murray powering over on the far side.

Marshals the back field expertly, too, and was rewarded with the sponsor’s man-of-the-match award.

Keith Earls: 7

Keith Earls with Sean Maitland Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After a bright start, the Munster winger didn’t see as much as the ball as he would have liked but was a livewire when it did come near him. Very nearly rose above Kinghorn to field a cross-field kick from Sexton in the first few minutes.

Garry Ringrose: 9

A joy to behold. Magical. Weaving and slaloming through the midfield channels with that rapid acceleration and electric footwork, Ringrose was superb on his return to the side and there was little indication that this was just his seventh game in an otherwise injury-ravaged season.

Not only was he instrumental in Stockdale’s second try — slotting in at first receiver before executing a glorious loop involving Bundee Aki — but he marshalled the outside channel brilliantly all afternoon.

Bundee Aki: 8

Bundee Aki and Blair Kinghorn Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Looks at home in that Ireland midfield now and was close on more than one occasion to getting over the line, while he linked well with Ringrose for Stockdale’s score on half time. Does trojan work off the ball which largely goes unnoticed.

Jacob Stockdale: 9

Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring a try Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland’s wunderkind on the wing now has 10 tries in just eight international caps. Telegraphed Horne’s pass to streak clear and dot down under the posts and then stepped inside beautifully to get over for his second on the stroke of half time. With six tries in this year’s Six Nations, the 21-year-old has now equalled the record for most tries in a single championship season.

Johnny Sexton: 8

Johnny Sexton kicks a conversion Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Despite the week-long rumours of back spasms, and the late concern over his fitness when Ian Keatley was spotted out warming up, Sexton again delivered a composed and influential performance.

Having missed three kicks from the tee against Wales, he was just about faultless here, the highlight being the touchline conversion after Stockdale’s second try. The one blemish being a missed penalty attempt on 65.

With the bonus point sealed, the out-half was given the final eight minutes to put his feet up as he made way for Carbery.

Conor Murray: 8

Conor Murray and Stuart Hogg Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

His distribution and kicking game was sharp and accurate — what else would you expect? — and showed no ill-effects of that knee injury he sustained in the closing minutes against Wales. Brought his international try-scoring tally to 12 with a powerful, close-range finish early in the second period.

Furthermore, since the 2015 World Cup, the Limerick native has scored nine Test tries (including one for the Lions), which is two more than any other scrum-half.

Cian Healy: 7

Cian Healy with Simon Berghan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Some big contributions both in defence and around the fringes in the opening quarter but after twice receiving attention from the medics, was accidentally clattered by Hogg’s elbow and didn’t look right from there on in.

Should have been hauled off at that juncture, but the sight of Healy re-entering Ireland’s defensive line for a lengthy passage of play when he was clearly unsteady on his feet was unsettling. Eventually replaced by McGrath on 51 minutes.

Rory Best: 6

Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring a try with Garry Ringrose, Rory Best, Dan Leavy and Conor Murray Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland’s lineout seriously malfunctioned in the opening half and while it got better as the game wore on, the set-piece remained an area of real sloppiness. Otherwise, Best made a telling tackle and turnover after a sustained period of Scottish pressure, before Ireland struck at the other end through Stockdale. Withdrawn for Sean Cronin after 65 minutes.

Tadhg Furlong: 7

Tadhg Furlong with John Barclay Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

A welcome return to the side for the Lion after missing the win over Wales last time out and gave Ireland a solid footing at the scrum. Was brilliant in sweeping up a couple of loose balls on the deck in the opening 40.

James Ryan: 9

James Ryan tackles Blair Kinghorn Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Another titanic shift in the engine room from a player who continues to defy his years. Set the tone with a serious clearout on Wilson and Ryan never let up from there, displaying all his athleticism with 14 carries in a brilliant, all-round 80-minute performance. Growing in stature every week.

Devin Toner: 7

CJ Stander and Devin Toner with Jonny Gray Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ireland’s lineout maul was a powerful weapon all afternoon, leading directly to two tries, and Toner was at the heart of it. Always justifies his selection.

Peter O’Mahony: 7

Peter O'Mahony Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Was pinged for being off his feet to allow Laidlaw kick Scotland into an early lead but was otherwise tireless in his work at the breakdown, winning two turnovers and making 10 tackles before being replaced by Jordi Murphy on 55 minutes.

Dan Leavy: 9

Gordon Reid with Dan Leavy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

One of the standout moments of the first period was Leavy’s epic turnover after Ireland had been pinned back inside their own 22 by the visitors. The former St Michael’s man has really seized his chance this championship and again was colossal in his defensive work while he made 11 meaty carries. Outstanding.

CJ Stander: 8

CJ Stander with Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The breakdown was always going to be a crucial area in this contest and Stander and co. knew they needed to really stand up to subdue the threat of Barclay, Watson and Wilson. The number eight carried powerfully and was rock solid in defence, making 12 tackles and driving his side on to victory.

Replacements:

Jack McGrath: 7

A big impact off the bench after replacing his Leinster team-mate Healy. Ireland’s depth at both tighthead and loosehead is remarkable.

Iain Henderson: 7

Had to settle for a place on the bench on his return to fitness but shored up Ireland’s lineout after replacing Toner.

Jordi Murphy: 7

Great to see the Ulster-bound flanker back out in green for the first time since November. Really stood out late in the contest as he brought huge energy and an appetite for work.

Andrew Porter: 7

Not a bad replacement to bring on when Furlong was breathing heavily.

Sean Cronin: 7

Four minutes after his introduction, the replacement hooker had the simple task of falling over the line for his fifth Ireland try.

Kieran Marmion: 7

With the game won, the Connacht scrum-half was given nine minutes at the end. His passing was sharp and made one good clearing kick after a period of Scotland territory.

Joey Carbery: 7

Again introduced to see out the game for Ireland. Had a few bright touches.

Jordan Larmour: 7

Handed his second senior cap with five minutes remaining.

Ireland set up Grand Slam shot as England need BP win to keep Six Nations alive

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Ryan Bailey

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