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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020
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How we rated Ireland in today's sun-kissed Italian cruise

Who stood out for you?

IRELAND FINALLY GOT a win to their name in the 2016 Six Nations Championship. Here’s the match report, here’s how we rated Joe Schmidt’s side against Italy.

Simon Zebo: 7

The Munster man is always better placed to show his skills at fullback and, other than a shaky early clearance kick, they were a sight for sore eyes. Excellent power and precise offloading to create the initial opening for Jamie Heaslip’s try.

Simon Zebo

Andrew Trimble: 8

Long before he grounded the game’s opening try, the wing set the tone for an excellent personal performance with a high ball take. Showed his patience to match his power with his hand in the tries that followed in the first half.

Jared Payne: 8

Stayed calm when collecting Odiete’s gift, shunning the Hollywood pass and focused on the recycle which made Trimble’s try. Looked very heavy-legged early on, but soon forced himself into match tempo. His intercept try was as soft a concession as you’ll see at this level.

Robbie Henshaw: 6

Took a nasty cut to the head and was temporarily replaced by Fergus McFadden during the excellent first-half score finished by Heaslip. A relatively quiet day after his big day at 13, but didn’t put a foot wrong while going to the grindstone 15 times.

Keith Earls: 7

His pace is a rare asset and his invention when running down alleys gave a hint of the ambition lurking below the surface for the rest of the team.

Johnny Sexton: 7

It’s becoming a routine for the out-half now: take a bone-rattling hit, take treatment, pull yourself together, get up and go for more punishment. The out-half was off-colour off the tee, but still clinical in possession.

Conor Murray: 7

Steadied himself into a solid rhythm after a shaky early box-kick. Prevented Italy taking a shock lead with a good hit on the powerful Gonzalo Garcia and overall delivered sharp service from the base.

Jack McGrath: 7

Possibly Ireland’s best forward in this tournament, his early try was a reward for exemplary approaches to every task. Part of a solid set-piece today.

Jack McGrath celebrates his try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rory Best: 7

Only played 50 minutes before being called ashore with the game won. Led the side perfectly and kept the set-piece on track.

Mike Ross: 7

Kept the scrum solid despite Italian frustrations. Will have much tougher days than this, and the hard days bring out the best in him.

Donnacha Ryan: 9

Backed up a severely underrated performance in Twickenham with a man-of-the-match display here. A valuable addition to the line-out brains trust and able to shovel through a heap of tackles to boot.

Devin Toner: 7

Looked a cut above the other locks in the first half, even showing decent hands in midfield at times. Key man in McGrath’s try with a line-out take and then a solid leech on his prop.

CJ Stander: 7

Another day of Trojan work for a new man to this level. Consistently took Ireland over the gainline and nobody doubted he would do it when the try-line was in sight.

Josh van der Flier: 8

Another impressive day out for the Wicklow man. Carried powerfully into tackles, made 13 of his own in defence and seems to clean rucks like his dog is buried under them.

Jamie Heaslip: 7

The vice-captain was clearly delighted with his two tries, taking his total tally to 12. Did particularly well to get his hands free enough to finish the first one after a slow floated pass from McFadden.

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