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How we rated Ireland in the hard-hitting return clash against the All Blacks

The All Blacks got back to winning ways against Ireland, but Joe Schmidt’s side put in another huge performance.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IN THE THIRD of their November international series, Ireland lost out despite another impressive performance against New Zealand. Here’s how the game unfolded and below are our player ratings for the match.

Rob Kearney: 5

With less team possession and fewer aerials to chase, it’s not altogether his fault that he was unable to reach the heights of Soldier Field. Still, the fullback got himself flat footed on a number of tackles and was guilty of passing up (by not passing) a try opportunity when he was gifted a loose ball in the Kiwi 22.

Andrew Trimble: 6

Barely put a foot wrong, just didn’t have enough to do. Had to come in for the majority of his work, but acting like a flanker is a strong suit of his game.

Jared Payne: 7

The defensive setup was very different from Chicago, but Payne did a fine job of marshaling a back-line that was studded with new faces after a bruising first half. Was targeted by the visiting defence when in possession. Unfortunatly was not able to hang on to a chip over the top late on, but the game was already lost.

Garry Ringrose: 7

Sent in to the mix after Robbie Henshaw was taken out of the game by a high Sam Cane hit. Grew into the game the more it wore on and the more space opened up for him to use  his footwork to get around corners. His debut was Canada, but this was his first time on the biggest stage and he didn’t look an inch out of his depth.

Simon Zebo leaves the field with an injury Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Simon Zebo: 6

Looked dangerous when Ireland were able to feed him wide and his footwork and hunger for space kept defenders guessing. Ultimately though, it was a frustrating night for all Irish attackers.

Paddy Jackson: 7

There’s no longer a sense of panic seeping around the ground and the team when Jonathan Sexton is forced off. Jackson doesn’t have the pace off the mark of the Leinster man, but his passing and tactical kicking make him a contender for the starting job.

Paddy Jackson tackled by Liam Squire Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Conor Murray: 7

Allowed Beauden Barrett too much room for the number 10′s contentious try, but it’s tough to legislate for out and out pace. The nine’s task tonight was much more difficult task than in Soldier Field when he was behind a revolving door of a ruck.

Jack McGrath: 7 

Typically high workrate all over the park from the Leinster man and he was part of another excellent scrum effort.

Rory Best: 8

Unfortunately had to spend more time than he would have wanted lobbying Jaco Peyper. Passing in wide channels is not his strong suit, but when he got down to business in the ruck he was clinical and his part of the line-out functioned well.

Tadhg Furlong: 8

Showed his worth in the loose, making a heap of carries and swatting black jerseys aside in the mould of Cian Healy in this fixture three years ago. Makes the scrum a potent weapon even against the world’s best.

Donnacha Ryan: 7

Looked like a man ready for war during the anthems and carried that intensity all the way through his performance for 60 minutes. Played a huge part in Ireland being able to keep in touch despite the early All Black scores.

Devin Toner: 9

Stormed to the top of the tackle charts in a frenetic first half and continued to inflict his weight on black jerseys through the second period. The set-piece unfortunately wasn’t able to mine the same amount of change from the maul against much better direct opponents.

Sean O’Brien: 8

Forced to play much longer than Joe Schmidt would have planned, but he missed this stage and showed just how much with his incessant thirst for work as he made 19 carries and hit every tackle with venom.

Josh van der Flier: 7

Called into action after CJ Stander was the third Irish player forced off injured in the firsst half, but properly started making his presence felt early in the second half with big carries and generally being a nuisance at black breakdowns.

Ardie Savea and Jamie Heaslip Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Jamie Heaslip: 9

Mean early start with a huge carry over Kieran Read and offload to O’Brien. The number eight led the fightback with gusto in the first half. His 14 carries were all across the gainline.

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