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Player ratings: How Ireland's players performed against Australia

Joe Schmidt’s men were excellent at the Aviva Stadium.

Tommy Bowe dots down for Ireland.
Tommy Bowe dots down for Ireland.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND COMPLETED A November clean sweep with a tense 26-23 win over Australia in the Aviva Stadium this evening.

Here’s how we rated the individual Irish performances.

Rob Kearney: 9

Picked up where he left off against the Springboks, dominating in the skies and running with massive intent every time he was on the ball. Excellent one-on-one tackle to deny Speight on a cross-field kick. Unlucky not to score a long-range drop goal. A real leader for Ireland.

Tommy Bowe: 9

Loves to chase kicks and Ireland’s current tactics allow him to do plenty of it. Had one glaring chance to offload to Murray, but in that aspect Schmidt’s blueprint denies him. His intercept try was stunning; a masterful read.

Robbie Henshaw: 8

The Connacht centre faced some difficult moments in defence, particularly in that second quarter when the Wallabies danced around Ireland. His footwork in attack always allows him to eke out extra metres. One questionable chip showed his inexperience, but then had a superb kick late on.

Gordon D’Arcy: 7

Under immediate pressure most of the time he got the ball, although was hesitant in his decision-making nonetheless. Defensively solid in one-on-one situations generally, but did slip off one or two tackles.

Simon Zebo: 7

A loose offload eventally saw Australia score their first through Nick Phipps, but the Munster wing did finish Ireland’s opening five pointer well. One early hit on Kuridrani stands out, while he also chased well. Made one try-saving hit on Toomua down the left late on. Would have rated higher but for that offload!

Johnny Sexton: 9

Jonathan Sexton kicks a second half penalty Sexton place-kicked well for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Sublime kick for Zebo’s try, and much of his contestable kicking from hand was perfect. His passing off both sides was accurate, allowing his teammates to threaten further out. A truly complete out-half.

Conor Murray: 7

As composed as ever on the ball, stepping out of trouble when he needed to. Didn’t get too many opportunities to burst around the fringes, but his tackling and passing were as consistent as is expected.

Jack McGrath: 8

The Irish scrum had some tricky moments, but the Leinster prop came good when his pack needed it most. The scrum penalty with five minutes left was crucial. Tackled very effectively, cutting off one Wallabies’ scoring chance in the first half.

Rory Best: 8

It was his turnover that eventually allowed Zebo to score in the first half, while he battled hard at the breakdown as always. Hugely busy in defence, racking up at least 11 tackles by our count. Again, a leader for Ireland and his return was a boost.

Mike Ross: 8

Quiet around the pitch in comparision to his front row teammates in the tackling and ball-carrying stakes, but hit a good amount of rucks, as ever. That he got through 80 minutes again was a testament to his importance for Ireland.

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Devin Toner: 7

Devin Toner and Sam Carter Toner clears a ball off the top of the line-out. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Replaced by Dave Foley in the closing quarter after a relatively quiet game by his exacting standards. That’s not to say he was not an important cog for Ireland, particularly around the rucks. Pressure from Foley can only be a good thing.

Paul O’Connell: 9

The ultimate leader. Spoke about Ireland’s improved defence in the second half, and much of that was down to him dragging the front-line up at speed. Will have been disappointed with aspects of the line-out and maul, but O’Connell is the focal point of this Ireland team.

Peter O’Mahony: 7

Again, a crucial defender in the second half. His turnover at the breakdown meant Ireland’s first score of the game through Sexton’s boot. Had some nice touches in terms of handling, a role Ireland may look to use him in more often going forward.

Rhys Ruddock: 8

We’ll have to wait for the individual tackle stats, but appeared to be a leader in that area for Ireland. Has adapted to his role at seven with ease. Won two excellent choke takle turnovers and carried out some violent rucking.

Jamie Heaslip: 7

Did a lot of the short, close-in carrying for Ireland in his typical selfless fashion. Hasn’t had the opportunity to explode into life in this November series, but carried out his roles in his usual unfussy manner.

Replacements:

Sean Cronin: 6

Gave a fresh strength to the front row, and was part of some vital shoves when Ireland needed him.

Dave Kilcoyne: not used

Rodney Ah You: not used

Dave Foley: 6

Slotted in well as a replacement for Devin Toner. Part of a momentous effort in the closing minutes of his second cap

Tommy O’Donnell: not used

Eoin Reddan: not on long enough to rate

Ian Madigan: 7

Good burst after collecting a knock down from Zebo and in defence showed good aggression to force a knock-on when the Wallabies threatened.

Felix Jones: not on long enough to rate

How did you rate the Irish performances against Australia? Let us know…

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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