Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# out of 10
Here's how we rated Ireland in their narrow win over Fiji
Ireland did just enough to make it six straight wins.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium 

A NEW-LOOK IRELAND edged a physical and pulsating contest with Fiji to make it six straight Test wins in this evening’s November international at Lansdowne Road. Here is how we rated the performances of Joe Schmidt’s side.

Darren Sweetnam celebrates his try with Joey Carbery and Andrew Conway Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ireland celebrate Darren Sweetnam's try. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Andrew Conway: 9

Flourishing on the international stage, and followed up last week’s performance against the ‘Boks with an equally influential one at fullback. Assured under the high ball, Conway stood up two defenders and timed his pass beautifully to send Dave Kearney over in the corner. Deservedly named man of the match.

Darren Sweetnam: 8

Still raw at this level, but once again showed why he is such an exciting talent. Pace mixed with a nice step and poised balance makes the Munster wing a potent threat on the right and he marked his first start with a maiden international try.

Chris Farrell: 7

A fine debut for the 24-year-old. Relished the physicality of the contest but showed much more than an ability to get over the gainline. Made way for Robbie Henshaw with a quarter remaining.

Stuart McCloskey: 7

We didn’t see the Ulster centre with ball in hand until the 23rd minute, but he was heavily involved in Ireland’s second try. A big carry into the 22 was followed by a crisp pass to feed Conway. A loose offload into touch on this near side won’t have pleased Joe, however.

Dave Kearney: 6

A poor attempt at an offload gifted Fiji a route back into the game, an error which will be a major blot on Kearney’s copybook. Had earlier marked his first international in over 18 months with a fourth try.

Joey Carbery: 9

An absolute joy to watch, before one too many bruising hits took their toll and he was forced off holding his arm. Carbery made something happen every time he got on the ball and while his place-kicking requires some work, the out-half showed us what we all already know — he is class. The step and break for the first try was pure genius.

Joey Carbery makes a break Dan Sheridan / INPHO Carbery was a joy to watch. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Kieran Marmion: 6

It took a matter of minutes for evidence, if any was needed, of the gulf in class between Marmion and Conor Murray. The Connacht scrum-half’s first box-kick was overcooked and his second went straight up, gifting loose ball to Fiji and inviting them to run at the Irish defence. Distribution wasn’t as crisp as it sould have been and was caught on his heels on more than one occasion.

Jack McGrath: 6

Had something of a point to prove this week and popped up with ball in hand in open play particularly during the first half. Cian Healy remains ahead in the pecking order.

Rob Herring: 7

The Ireland line-out was solid during Herring’s time on the park and he fronted up well on his first start with a couple of big carries. Showed dynamism and athleticism all around the park. Replaced by James Tracy after 55 minutes.

Andrew Porter: 6

A special day for the young prop and he can be relatively pleased with his 55 minutes on the field. Schmidt admitted during the week that he is still very much a work in progress but this experience will have been a big learning curve.

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Ultan Dillane: 7

His knock on from a short lineout created the platform for Fiji to launch a brilliant counter and eventually score through Henry Seniloli on the stroke of half-time. Otherwise carried forcefully and put in a solid defensive shift.

Devin Toner: 6

An ever-reliable performer in the second row, Toner provided the experience in the pack and was vocal throughout.

Jordi Murphy and Dominiko Waqaniburotu Ryan Byrne / INPHO Jordi Murphy in action. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Rhys Ruddock: 7

Not his usual best, but still made important contributions before being called ashore for CJ Stander. Ireland struggled at times at the breakdown, largely because Fiji recognised the hosts weren’t committing large numbers to rucks. Ruddock and co. should have been able to rectify it.

Jordi Murphy: 6

Tireless in the trenches but missed a couple of tackles and was caught offside on more than one occasion. Finished with a big steal at the death but overall a rusty performance.

Jack Conan: 7

The Leinster number eight now has four tries in five caps after his opportunistic first-half score. Pounced on the loose ball and had the pace and athleticism to dash 40 yards to the line.


Tracy, Furlong and Healy: 7

Schmidt changed the entire front row with 25 left on the clock and the Leinster trio helped shore up things at the set-piece. Healy deserves a special mention as he was monumental.

CJ Stander: 7

Brought energy and physicality to the game after his arrival off the bench while assuming the captaincy duties from Ruddock.

Ian Keatley: 7

His first contribution was to nail a pressure kick and then landed the match-winning points from the tee.

Treadwell, Henshaw and McGrath: 7

All introduced at various intervals during the final quarter to help Ireland get across the line.

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Class of Conway and Carbery help stuttering Ireland edge past Fiji

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