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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 3 March 2021
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Ratings: Here's how the Irish players fared against victorious England

It was tough going on a soggy afternoon in Dublin.

Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by Billy Twelvetrees.
Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by Billy Twelvetrees.
Image: ©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

Rob Kearney – 7

One claimed high ball got the crowd going but Kearney struggled to make much of an attacking impact. His big boot came in handy on a few occasions when Ireland were pressed. Conceded a penalty for holding onto the ball moments after getting cartwheeled by a brave Courtney Lawes challenge. Showed good awareness to touch for the line when under a hail of English bodies.

Craig Gilroy – 6

Poor knock-on in the first half from an O’Driscoll pass. Super tackle, coming off his wing like the Welsh game, stalled a dangerous England attack. His kicking out of hand was not up to scratch for the second week running, typified by a kick into Goode’s clutches inside his 22.

Brian O’Driscoll – 6

Absolute commitment from the new father, who will be happy to have next weekend off. One marvellous pass set the Irish Keith Earls off and away in the first-half but struggled to make in-roads as the game progressed. A spilled pass almost cost a try but Manu Tuilagi knocked on.

Gordon D’Arcy – 5

Found the going tough against Brad Barritt and a rabid English back-row. Knocked on after a strong tackle from the excellent Owen Farrell. Acted as scrum-half at one stage and his low pass to Ronan O’Gara led to the sub getting swallowed up. Battled for hard yards in the second 40.

Simon Zebo – Not on long enough to rate

Looked forlorn after pulling up with a suspected break of a bone in his foot.

Jonathan Sexton – 5

Was having a very average game before succumbing to injury. Tactical kicking was often wayward. His sleight of hand was missed when he hobbled off.

Sexton is assisted from the field. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Conor Murray – 5

One smart kick in the second-half, with Alex Goode away from his post, set up Ireland for a promising attack. His handling was off in poor conditions and knocked on badly from a Peter O’Mahony pop off the lineout. Did not excel when Ireland were being forced back at the breakdown.

Cian Healy – 6

Was one of the best scrummagers on the pitch, winning one kickable penalty, but his red mist antics were foolish. Could have seen red for a stamp at the ruck and waded into another with fists whirring as he took offence to Chris Robshaw’s presence.

Rory Best – 7

Overcame early yips at the lineout to emerge as one of Ireland’s best players in open play. Claimed one super high ball from under Goode’s nose to set up an Irish attack and constantly offered himself for carries. Gave away a bad penalty before the chip that almost set Tuilagi up for a dot down.

Mike Ross – 7

Heroic effort from Ross as he was flogged until the 79th minute against a hungry English pack. Gave away one penalty at the scrum when he popped up against Joe Marler. Bounced back strongly to win two early scrums in the second-half.

Mike McCarthy – 6

Commitment could not be questioned but spilled forward twice in the first-half to cost Ireland momentum. Failed to trouble the English lineout. Stayed on for 80 minutes but struggled to make an impact.

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Donnacha Ryan – 6

Another player who could not be faulted at the coalface but the English locks, Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling in particular, won the day. Was withdrawn for Donncha O’Callaghan as he looked a spent force.

Peter O’Mahony – 8

Ireland’s best player in green as he made multiple carries, tackled ferociously and stole one English lineout. Had three carries in the space of 90 seconds as Ireland battled to get on the scoreboard in the opening 40. England knew about his short temper and targeted him to good effect on a couple of feisty occasions.

Sean O’Brien – 6

Sterling work at the breakdown but seemed to run out of steam about five minutes before injury forced him off. The English back-row held sway at crucial junctures of the game and O’Brien could not make any of the huge carries that typified his performance against Wales last week.

Jamie Heaslip – 4

Picked a bad time to have his worst game in green since the World Cup quarter-final. Gave away three penalties, including one within Farrell’s range after three minutes. Woeful day at the office was summed up by spilling a dolly of an Engliosh clearance with nobody in his vicinity. One positive was his 10 ball carries, the best of his team.

Heaslip and O’Brien tackle Billy Twelvetrees. (©INPHO/Colm O’Neill)

Replacements

Dave Kilcoyne – Not on long enough to rate

One 10-metre carry shows Ireland may not miss Healy too much against Scotland but that may be wishful thinking.

Sean Cronin – Not on long enough to rate

His solitary contribution of note was to throw poorly to squander an Irish lineout.

Declan Fitzpatrick – Not on long enough to rate

Donncha O’Callaghan – 6

Showed plenty of fight when he came on with 15 minutes to play.

Chris Henry – 5

Won a lineout ball but did little else of note.

Ronan O’Gara – 4

Has not played competitively since the Heineken Cup for Munster and slowed up many backline moves. Took two nice penalties to get Ireland back in contention but missed a vital kick at 12-6 to England. Tactical grubbers and chips were, for the most part, useless.

Keith Earls – 7

Early substitute for Zebo and Ireland’s best back. Made two superb, scything breaks, that had the English reeling. Prevented a near-certain Tuilagi try on 62 minutes. May find a place back on the wing after Zebo’s injury.

As it happened: Ireland v England, 6 Nations

About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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