Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# out of 10
How we rated Ireland's Grand Slam winners on a historic day at Twickenham
Kearney, Ringrose, Ryan, Furlong and Leavy were all superb.

IRELAND PRODUCED AN utterly sensational performance to secure a historic Grand Slam with a 24-15 victory over England at Twickenham this afternoon. Here’s how we rated Joe Schmidt’s side.

Rob Kearney: 9

Rob Kearney and Ben T'eo Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Player of the championship? Followed up his man-of-the-match display against Scotland with another eye-catching display, as he consistently showed strength to spin out of tackles and make yards for Ireland.

Suspicions of a knock on aside, the fullback put Watson under huge pressure for Ringrose’s opening try and from there was solid and reliable in the air. The only Irish player in history to start in two Grand Slam-winning games.

Keith Earls: 8

Keith Earls tackled by Sam Simmonds Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Didn’t see a lot of the ball but defensively the Munster winger was superb as he made a try-saving tackle in the first half on Wigglesworth and then his tap tackle on Daly kept England at bay just after the interval. Rarely put a foot wrong, before being forced off with seven minutes remaining.

Garry Ringrose: 9

Garry Ringrose scores a try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The kid is back. Reacted and finished brilliantly to pounce on the loose ball for his fifth international try and then showed all his intelligence and nous in defence with an incredible tackle and strip on Kruis when the hosts were hammering away at the Ireland line. Immense all afternoon.

Bundee Aki: 8

Bundee Aki makes a break Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Took a huge blow in a midfield hit and was forced off with a head injury, which was an unfortunate end to the championship for the Connacht centre having played every previous minute.

Recovered well after spilling a gilt-edge chance on the far side but was lucky to stay on shortly after for a no-arms hit. Was great to see him back out on the field after the final whistle.

Jacob Stockdale: 9

Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring a try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The wunderkind on the wing. 11 tries in nine internationals, Stockdale’s moment of brilliance on the stroke of half-time saw him become the first-ever player to score seven tries in a single Single Nations campaign. A deadly finisher.

Johnny Sexton: 8

Johnny Sexton kicks at goal Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Arguably the best kick the out-half ever missed. His pushed penalty, which came back off the right post, led in turn to a perfectly-executed dummy loop play resulting in Stander barreling his way to the foot of the post.

Spent the final five minutes of the first half getting patched up and eventually made way for Carbery on the 65 minute mark. A sweet, sweet victory.

Conor Murray: 9

Conor Murray congratulates Jacob Stockdale on his try James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Has got everything, as if we didn’t know that already. The best nine in the world bar none. His control of the game was superb, his kicking faultless and a third international penalty to boot.

Cian Healy: 8

Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring their third try with Cian Healy James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Take a bow, Cian Healy. A monstrous shift as the Irish front row bullied Sinckler, Hartley and Vunipola. Exceptional defensive effort, exceptional scrummaging performance. Put his body on the line time and time again — although the same can be said for 1 to 23.

Rory Best: 8

Rory Best leads out the team Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

What a moment for the captain, who wins his second Grand Slam after being on the bench in Cardiff in 2009. An outstanding leader. At 35, led from the front and was visibly emotional post-match.

Tadhg Furlong: 9

Tadhg Furlong supported by Iain Henderson Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The sponsor’s man of the match. His delightful slip pass to Aki in the build-up to Stander’s try highlighted his remarkable skill set. A player of incredible consistency and talent. And he’s only 25.

James Ryan: 9

Andrew Porter and James Ryan celebrate winning Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Set the tone with a thunderous hit on Itoje from the kick off and then doubled up with Leavy shortly after to smash Hartley. Was tireless in his work around the fringes and made 13 tackles in another impressive shift in the engine room.

Iain Henderson: 9

Ian Henderson Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Titanic shift on his return to the starting XV. The Ulster lock showed all the power Schmidt talked about earlier in the week by steamrolling Farrell, and then combined with Stander for a huge choke tackle on Itoje on the stroke of half-time.

Peter O’Mahony: 8

Peter O’Mahony wins line out ball from Maro Itoje Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

In the thick of absolutely everything again. A nuisance at the lineout, a mongrel at the breakdown and a colossal leader. Spent 10 minutes in the bin for collapsing a maul but, in the end, a mere footnote.

Dan Leavy: 9

Jacob Stockdale and Dan Leavy tackle Elliot Daly Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

A bottomless tank. Phenomenal from start to finish again, an absolute work horse in every facet of the game. 16 tackles, 11 carries and 22 metres gained. Sean O’Brien must be wondering how he’ll get back into the Ireland back row.

CJ Stander: 8

CJ Stander scores a try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Finished off a Schmidt power-play we haven’t seen before with brute strength to get it down at the base of the post. Carried hard, worked harder and made 41 metres for his side. Another towering display.


Joey Carbery: 8

Nailed a touchline conversion following Stockdale’s try, and exuded confidence and calmness under pressure at such a crucial juncture in the contest. Managed the final 15 minutes maturely.

Jack McGrath: 8

Another big impact off the bench for the Leinster prop. Made eight tackles in an impressive cameo.

Jordan Larmour: 8

Looked right at home in Ireland’s midfield following Aki’s departure. Stood firm defensively and hit ruck after ruck with energy and purpose. Made one darting break towards the line after Ringrose’s glorious pass. The 20-year-old’s third cap.

Andrew Porter: 8

Ensured the Irish set-piece kept their foot on the pedal in the second half. Powerful around the park.

Devin Toner: 8

Unfortunate to miss out on a starting berth but brought discipline and experience off the bench.

Sean Cronin: 8

Showed his acceleration and sound tackle technique with a try-saving tackle on Brown at the death. Another player who will savour this day after falling out of favour in November.

Jordi Murphy: 8

What a comeback it has been for the Leinster flanker.

Kieran Marmion: 8

Came on to deputise on the wing against England again for the final throes of an epic Test match.

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