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How we rated Ireland in that bruising battle against France

This one was painful on so many levels.

IRELAND FOLLOWED UP their opening weekend draw with a defeat away to France today. Here’s how we rated the reigning champions.

Rob Kearney and Virimi Vakatawa Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Rob Kearney: 6

A solid enough return for the fullback. Wasn’t able to show his full aerial capabilities as Virimi Vakatawa beat him to an early cross-field kick. Effective in making strong carries out wide, but unable to make strike moves count.

Andrew Trimble: 6

Went looking for extra work in the second half after a frustrating first period for any winger. Stopped a certain try in the corner in the second half, but it only prolonged the wait for a French try.

Jared Payne: 7

Excellent in defence and was Ireland’s top tackler on the day, but like most Irish players was unable to make big inroads in attack.

Jonathan Danty supported by Teddy Thomas tackled by Jared Payne Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

 Robbie Henshaw: 8

The best Ireland back in the first half, taking high ball, making big carries. But the awful conditions also forced him in to the odd dropped ball.

Fergus McFadden: 5

Played 50 minutes as replacement for Dave Kearney and went to work dutifully. Didn’t put many feet wrong, but did struggle to make his presence felt at the ruck.

Jonathan Sexton: 7

Showed great mettle to dust himself off and slot the opening penalty and followed up with flawless kicking before half-time.

Conor Murray: 7

Possibly shouldn’t have been on the field after colliding with Rory Best’s hip in the first half, but all in all he was a calming presence for Ireland.

Jack McGrath: 7

Set the base for Ireland’s early dominance with excellent early scrums against Uini Atonio and put his shoulder to the wheel to help Ireland onto the front foot.

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Jamie Heaslip speaks to his team Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Rory Best: 6

Typically, got through a mountain of work at the breakdown, but struggled to get on the right side of Jaco Peyper at the breakdown. Early line-outs were shaky when Ireland advanced to dangerous areas.

Nathan White: 6

Commendable effort from the Kiwi and can hold his head high about his scrummaging today. Was off the field by the time the series of penalties went against Ireland.

Mike McCarthy: 7

Shed blood for the cause and contributed some big hits and important carries to help Ireland fight their corner. Extremely painful and worrying end to the day as his clash of heads with Jack McGrath left him needing a stretcher.

Devin Toner: 7 

Shares the responsibility of two early lost line-outs with Best, but otherwise was an important totem around the field and played a big part in helping build the half-time lead.

CJ Stander: 6

Irish people everywhere were willing him onto crash balls and you could see Conor Murray lining him up more often after the break. Unfortunately, his progress with ball in hand was stunted too often by dropped possession.

Tommy O’Donnell: 7

Hit the ground running when called into early action to replace O’Brien. Another impressive outing from the openside with 16 tackles to his name, but he will have competition with Chris Henry for the jersey in London.

Jamie Heaslip: 6

Got through a serious amount of work off the ball, but a relatively quiet day in compariso to his excellent showing against Wales.

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As it happened: France v Ireland, Six Nations

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