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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 7 March 2021

#IreFIJ: How Ireland’s new-look team rated this evening

There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful after the 53-0 win over Fiji in Limerick.

Simon Zebo congratulates Craig Gilroy after his second try.
Simon Zebo congratulates Craig Gilroy after his second try.
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Denis Hurley 6 - Looked solid in defence as he quelled some of Fiji’s more expansive breaks. Played a key role in McFadden’s first try.

Fergus McFadden 8 - A great showing from a man pounding on the first-team door. Great strength for two tries and played flanker while Chris Henry was in the sin bin.

Darren Cave 7 – Started excellently as he combined well with Marshall and sent McFadden clear in the first-half. Scored a nice, jinking try but performance faded in the second half.

Luke Marshall 8 – A superb outing from the 21-year-old who was chiefly responsible for keeping Ireland ticking in the first half. Set up Gilroy’s first and rounded the evening off with a try.

Craig Gilroy 9 – Named on the left wing but started on the right. Comfortable under the high ball and pace to burn. 80-metre breakaway try capped a hat-trick debut and a man-of-the-match performance.

Paddy Jackson 7 – Looked sharp in attack and brave in tackling some big Fijian units. Reverse passing out of the Sexton school. Made difficult conversions but missed a few simple ones.

Conor Murray 6 – Was sharp in setting up McFadden for his first try and tackled doggedly. Guilty of not being quick enough with distribution. Recovered well from a spear tackle before Paul Marshall appeared.

Dave Kilcoyne 6 – Penalised for some illegal binding at the scrum. Did not let himself down but not too many chances with ball in hand to show his worth.

Sean Cronin 9 – Pushed Gilroy very hard for the official ‘best player’ award. Bulled over for a try and set up Muldoon for a gimme he did not take. Solid lineout throws and committed second-half defence.

Sean Cronin tackles Fiji’s Vereniki Goneva. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

Mike Ross 7 – Was asked to put in another long shift and did so in typical, doughty fashion. Front row did not dominate but Ross carried well throughout.

Donncha O’Callaghan 7 – Was the livelier of the second rows and made some valuable carries in the first half as Ireland pressed. Will be happy with the 80-minute outing.

Dan Tuohy 6 – Jumped well in the lineout and battled manfully at the coalface. A tough game for forwards to gain much notice and will not threaten McCarthy for a starting spot against Argentina.

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Iain Henderson – 8 Industrial and committed throughout. Showed good awareness to poach a wayward lineout and break upfield. Great steal on the Fijian scrum-half on the Irish tryline and set up Marshall for his late try.

John Muldoon 6 – Mucked in for his team and denied Fiji the quick ball they crave so much. Damaged his leg in a collision with Murray and was stretchered off early in the second-half.

Jamie Heaslip 7 – Will benefit from this outing ahead of a big test next week. Pack-hunted Fijians with Henderson and O’Callaghan in turn. Crucial role played in McFadden’s second try.


Richardt Strauss 6 – His lineout throwing was much improved and he enjoyed himself in a 20 minute appearance. Defended well as Fiji pressed in the closing stages.

Cian Healy 5 – Was penalised for holding on as he tried to make a running impact. Got involved in some needless pushing and cribbing with Tatanavou in the last 10 minutes.

Michael Bent 5 – Made his presence felt when he came on and got the attention of referee Hodges. Another game in green under his belt.

Chris Henry 6 – Would have rated higher for 17 great, foraging minutes but his yellow card for illegal entry into the breakdown slowed the Irish freight train.

Paul Marshall 6 – Came on too late to truly influence proceedings but played a key role in Gilroy’s second try and kept his team moving.

Simon Zebo 6 – Another effective cameo from a replacement. His best contribution was haring onto a Jackson pass to set Gilroy free for his second try.

Mike McCarthy – Replaced Heaslip but not on long enough to rate.

As it happened: Ireland v Fiji, November internationals

Kidney happy with selection headache after stunning displays by McFadden and Gilroy

About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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