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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Out of 10: How Ireland rated in today’s Six Nations clash with Italy

Here’s how we felt Ireland’s players performed in their seven-try victory over the Italians in Dublin.

O'Driscoll was superb on his final home appearance for Ireland.
O'Driscoll was superb on his final home appearance for Ireland.

IRELAND SECURED A powerful win against the Italians in Dublin this afternoon to keep their Six Nations bid firmly on track.

Here’s how we felt Joe Schmidt’s men performed during their comprehensive 46-7 success.

Rob Kearney – 8

Had one superb run in the first half after being freed by O’Driscoll’s flick and beat a defender inside the Italian 22 on an earlier occasion. Missed his one-on-one tackle for Sarto’s try, and could have perhaps ‘stuck’ defenders more effectively twice in the first 40 minutes.

Added aggressive counter-attacking after half time and was very strong in contact on each of his 16 carries.

Andrew Trimble – 8

Excellent on fielding duties under the Italians’ deep re-starts. Finally got to show his running ability on several occasions and took his try very well after being released by O’Driscoll. Not only content with making yards in wide channels, continually put his hand up as a carrier closer in to the set-piece too.

Always gets through a mountain of work and there was little difference here.

Brian O’Driscoll – 9

Two magical passes lit up the first half, with his perfectly timed release on Sexton’s try confounding the Italian centres. The dummy switch and miss pass for Trimble was superb and came when Ireland needed inspiration. Mixed in a couple of well-weighted grubbers with a nice bosh on Orquera.

Brilliant turnover in the 46th minute, clamping into the ‘jackal’ position and winning a penalty. Made a line-break with 20 minutes left, before another sublime pass out the back of the hand for Sexton’s try. Genius.

Gordon D’Arcy – 8

Gordon D'Arcy tackled by Luciano Orquera Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Nice animation on the wide line to open up space for Sexton’s try and had one powerful fend and half-break inside the Ireland half during the first 40 minutes. Looked to be down and out with injury late in the first half, but soldiered on in midfield. Had another half break in the 66th minute, and continued to go forward with ball in hand.

Dave Kearney – 7

Competed as willingly as ever on Ireland’s box kicks and, like Trimble, managed to show his ability with ball in hand too. Had little chance of stopping Sarto for his five-pointer, but delivered a good try-scoring pass to Sexton for the out-half’s second try. So unlucky not to score after Trimble’s late grubber.

Jonny Sexton – 9

After an almost customary poor first kick, burst into the game with his try after six minutes, challenging the gain line as always and showing respectable pace too. Had another line-break in the 13th minute and one superb garryowen after 27.

Mixed in some solid tactical kicking in the second 40 and continued to show his superb work-rate off the ball to be in position for his second try. Kicked three out of five from the tee.

Conor Murray – 6

Box kicked contestably from inside Ireland’s half and provided clean service bar one low pass when under pressure at the base of a ruck. Unfortunately forced off the pitch in the 16th minute.

Cian Healy – 8

Did lots of carrying close in to the rucks early on for little reward. Very strong at scrum time and helped to provide the perfect platform for Sexton’s try. Guilty of not passing in the 29th minute on Italy’s tryline with two men in space on the left. Took his try very well, showing all his power to barrel over from close range

Rory Best – 7

Rory Best is tackled by Leonardo Ghiraldini Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Hit his first two line-outs with comfort, but did miss two throws in the first half too [a re-watch of the game will be needed to know for certain if it was the throw, lifting or jumping at fault.] Part of a strong scrum showing and busy as ever defensively. Didn’t quite make his usual amount of impact at the breakdown, but another good showing.

Mike Ross – 7

As reliable as ever at the set-piece, pinning down the left side of Italy’s scrum and lifting well in the line-out when called upon. Added four carries in attack and a handful of effective tackles before being replaced by Marty Moore in the second half.

Devin Toner – 9

Was one of Ireland’s top carriers in the first half, dropping his upper body into the tackler with far more regularity than in the past. Some excellent rucking, with an impressive array of techniques to compensate for his inability to get low. One bad knock-on inside the Italy 22 after 56 minutes to half a promising attack.

Continued to work hard until the final whistle, again demonstrating his hugely increased fitness. One of Ireland’s best players in the Six Nations so far.

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Paul O’Connell – 8

Had an early chance to covert an Irish overlap but carried the ball in one hand and missed the opportunity. Performed well at the line-out and chipped in with a handful of solid carries in attack. Had a superb hit in the 23rd minute as Italy looked to exit their half. Excellent leech on Healy to drive the prop over for his try.

Iain Henderson – 7

Showed up well in the tight, where Ireland’s coaching staff have asked him to increase his work rate. Did some excellent leading work at the front of the maul, and was integral to a brilliant choke tackle turnover in the first half. Missed a tackle on Luke McLean to allow a line-break in midfield when swifter reactions would have allowed him to unleash a hit.

A sublime one-handed line-out take was the highlight of his second half before being replaced by Ruddock.

Chris Henry – 8

Was Ireland’s chief pest at the breakdown in defence, competing on the deck and was directly responsible for two turnovers in the first half. Carrying is perhaps not his forte but applied himself willingly when called upon. His clearing out of Irish attacking rucks was as aggressive as ever.

Failed to pass to men in space and was turned over just before Cronin’s try

Jamie Heaslip – 9

Jamie Heaslip tackled by Luciano Orquera and Leonardo Ghiraldini Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Like O’Connell, had a first half chance to release a teammate [Dave Kearney] down the left but failed to stick his defender. Slipped off one tackle on Esposito, but made a superb turnover in the 13th minute inside Ireland’s 22. Carried as often as has become habit with Sean O’Brien not available this season, invariably making yards.

Has a huge engine and was as apparent during the closing minutes as in the opening passages.

Replacements:

Sean Cronin – 7

Took his try well, showing that touch of pace that offers Ireland such a strong bench option.

Jack McGrath – 7

Knocked-on a Jackson pass in the 70th minute, but made up for it with a superb 75th minute scrum and rounded off the afternoon by bouncing over for the final try.

Martin Moore – 6

Had virtually no contributions in open play, but that was more of a result of how the game flowed rather than a lack of effort.

Rhys Ruddock – 7

Excellent steal on the deck to create Cronin’s try and carried hard around the corner in open play. Made a strong hit off the scrum in the 71st minute.

Jordi Murphy – 6

Like Moore, play didn’t come in his direction very often.

Eoin Reddan – 7

Loose with some of his passing around the fringes after coming on for Murray, even if his opportunistic break from a 30th minute scrum was superb. Intelligent quick-tap just before Healy’s try, although one of his box kicks was too long.

Paddy Jackson – 7

Another lively performance off the bench for the Ulsterman and kicked two conversions, one of which was superb. His passing to the outside backs was crisp and out in front, allowing his teammates to run onto the ball. Excellent line kick in the 76th minute.

Fergus McFadden – 7

Impressed after replacing O’Driscoll, drawing a defender and passing effectively down the right at one stage. Took his try sharply to show off his attacking threat and then had a lovely chip and chase.

We’re sure you disagree with some of the ratings above, so let us know how you would have marked the players and why…

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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