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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Here's how we rated Ireland in their rumble with Romania

What did you make of Joe Schmidt’s starting XV today?

Simon Zebo: 8

Taking creative pressure off an inexperienced 10 is usually the job of a centre, but Zebo performed the role to good effect today.

His long pass off his the hand to Keith Earls was something very special indeed.

Tommy Bowe: 7

Still looking like he lacks a bit of confidence, but came up with a fantastic finish when it counted. Performed the basics well and helped manage the game with kicks from hand. Unlucky in the end not to sneak over for a hat-trick.

Keith Earls celebrates his try with Simon Zebo Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jared Payne: 6

Got through a ton of work around the field and shipped some big hits early on from fired-up  opponents. His kicking from hand though, even if there was an advantage coming, was just plain bad.

Darren Cave: 7

Picked in the 31-man squad because of his ability to cover two centre spots and embraced the difference between the two. A workman-like showing at 12 without setting the world alight, but once he was moved to the more families setting he was a massive threat.

Keith Earls: 9

An absolute tour-de-force from the Limerick man. At 27 he looks in the shape of his life: not only out-pacing defenders, but out-jumping and shunting them out of the way too.

Ian Madigan: 6

As ever, his place-kicking was very good, but on a rare start at 10 he showed some weakness in decision-making at times and very much relied on other members of the back-line to help manage the game.

Eoin Reddan: 8

With two scrum-halves, it’s hardly ideal to have the oldest man in the starting line-up playing 80 minutes, but it will be a welcome event for Reddan. The Limerick man was quietly effective, shirking back from his usual all-action gung-ho late-game approach and showed his excellent range of passing and kicking – never more so than the through ball to set up Keith Earls’ second try.

Chris Henry supported by Jamie Heaslip Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Cian Healy: 8

Showed glimpses that he will soon be back to his best. A great carrying option to have back in the fold and his summer without contact work clearly helped his kicking skills too.

Richardt Strauss: 7

Very good in defence with seven tackles and excellent at the post-tackle too. Kept the line-out ticking over nicely even if the resulting mauls only improved when Paul O’Connell got on the field.

Nathan White: 7

A solid day out against Romania’s primary weapon. Matched Strauss’ tackle count to complete a commendable display while Mike Ross rested up.

Donnacha Ryan: 7

A productive day of carrying and abrasive work from Ryan in the contact zone. Both second rows will take some responsibility for the stuttering maul.

Devin Toner: 7

Excellent in the air at the line-out and got through 11 tackles while on the field for the duration.

Jordi Murphy: 6

Quietly effective at blindside throughout. Didn’t put a foot wrong, but remains very much the fifth choice of Ireland’s five back rows.

Chris Henry: 8

Ireland’s best forward. Arrives at every breakdown brimming with intent and more often than not made a telling intervention to slow Romanian ball to a crawl. Contributed plenty in the loose as well, making 14 carries on top of 11 tackles and even knitted together moves with nice passes when required.

Jamie Heaslip: 7

Tends to be at his best when rising to big occasions, but managed to impose his game on Romania today with 12 big carries while he was on the field and, as usual, providing the muscle at the breakdown.

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The42 Team

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