Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Out of 10: How we rated Ireland in a hard fought Six Nations victory over France

It was a rough night for everyone out there.

IT WAS A rough day for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, but a profitable one as they claimed an 18 – 11 win over France, Here’s how we rated Joe Schmidt’s men.

Rob Kearney: 7

Formed part of an excellent kick chasing unit with Robbie Henshaw, but his first half display also featured an uncharacteristic handling error under a high ball and a smattering of missed tackles.

Tommy Bowe: 8

Proved a useful restart option in tandem with Jared Payne, provided one of Ireland’s rare breaks before half-time cutting inside Teddy Thomas.

Jared Payne: 7

Repaid Schmidt’s faith in him as a centre by barely putting a foot wrong in defence. Showed his soft hands with an excellent restart take in the second half. The experiment is gaining results.

Robbie Henshaw: 9

Showed all his fullback experience by hounding French players put under a high ball. Gave Ireland an easy gainline option time and again and pounced on a loose ball at a crucial time on his own five metre line to thwart a French attack.

Simon Zebo: 6

Recovered well early on to give go-forward ball off poor Sexton pass, but struggled to put his stamp on an ultra-physical game.

Johnny Sexton: 9

Shrugged off an awful lot of doubts by standing up and taking a Bastareaud charge early on and forcing a choke tackle.In attack, he went slightly off the boil after the half-time break, but goal-kicking was flawless throughout and that was the difference between the sides.

Conor Murray: 8

Provided typically excellent service for the returning Sexton and took much of the kicking responsibility onto his own shoulders. Some of those kicks were a bit loose, but his assurance seeps into every facet of the team.

Jack McGrath: 8

Set the tone in the front line with some powerful early carries and ensured Ireland were able to claim parity early on in the scrum.

Rory Best: 7

A key component of Ireland’s defence, leading the choke tackles that slowed down the blue momentum. His day was ended with a sin-binning that tilted momentum France’s way.

Mike Ross: 7

Coped well in what is always a difficult day in the scrum and offered himself as an early option to carry when Ireland sought to make their mark.

Devin Toner: 7

Another solid if unspectacular day at the office for the totem of the second row. A consistent force in the line-out and on the ground.

Paul O’Connell: 8

Marshalled Ireland’s line-out expertly particularly in holding back from defending a first half maul. That allowed a welcome relief from pressure. Contributed his trademark effort all over the park and left no ounce of energy untapped.

Peter O’Mahony: 9

A relatively quiet first half for the Munster captain, but as ever his attitude takes him a long way. The blindside popped up with a vital turnover on his own five metre line

and he popped up with some telling carries out wide and leeched on to other carriers to help them over the gainline.

Sean O’Brien: 7

Didn’t get an opportunity to run in open field, but showed no ill effects from his hamstring twinge until his energy began to wane after 50 minutes. Made his presence felt in tight situations instead.

Jamie Heaslip: 7

Gave Ireland’s back row a solid physical edge and his always-excellent breakdown impact was underlined by Pascal Pape’s taking his frustration out on the Leinster skipper’s back. That knock ended Heaslip’s day on the hour.

Replacements to follow:

Exercise quality always above quantity for Leinster Rugby’s head of fitness

Sergio Parisse gave Italy a shock lead at Twickenham but the hosts have fought back

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