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Six Nations: How Ireland rated

It was a close run thing and a massive collective effort. Here is our judgement on the 22 individual performances.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Cian Healy – 6

Always going to be a difficult day in the set-piece, but not able to be his usual barnstorming self in the loose.

Offside penalty after 35 minutes had Ireland teetering on the edge of a yellow card.

Rory Best – 7

Led the charge for the whole pack.

Line-outs few and far between, but got through a mountain of work in open play. Crucial line-out on French try-line went badly awry

Mike Ross – 6

The scrum was back-peddling from early on and Ross will never be happy when that is the case.

Donncha O’Callaghan – 5

Unseen work, possibly.

Paul O’Connell – 8

A ferocious performance from the skipper and did well to calm the troops when a yellow card seemed imminent.

Stephen Ferris – 9

Chief protagonist of Ireland’s surprising brilliance. A late block on Beauxis drop goal attempt was absolutely crucial. His tackle count must have been through the roof.

Sean O’Brien – 7

The argument all week about a ‘real 7′ was nullified by O’Brien first half display. Carried the ball typically brilliantly in second half and was unlucky to be the one hooked in favour of O’Mahony

Jamie Heaslip – 6

Faultless in the first half and generally did a lot of good work, but an an ill-advised second half attempt at playing scrum-half slowed the Irish attack to a crawl.

His later pass to Keith Earls should have been taken into contact. Ball handling was once his specialty, today it let him down.

Conor Murray – 6

Decision making was quicker from minute one and few could question his selection was justified. Suffered a nasty looking knee injury just before the hour mark.

Jonathan Sexton – 7

Recovered well from a horrible early penalty and was central to Irish blitz. Second half blue pressure looked to be taking it’s toll and should have called for drop goal attempt while Ireland camped in French 22.

Andrew Trimble – 6

Never quite hit the ground running and looked panicked even when Ireland led in the first half.

Gordon D’Arcy – 7

Awful error with 15 minutes remaining just as a head of steam was being built. Noticeably upped his defensive and ground work efforts and intensity. A throwback to the old days, he never took a backward step.

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Keith Earls – 7

Defended manfully with his midfield partner and the off-load for Bowe’s second try was absolutely perfect. Will continue to deputise for the great one.

Tommy Bowe – 9

What can you say except absolutely lethal.

A finisher to rival Denis Hickie, Bowe was the beneficiary of Ireland’s abandonment of the shift defence. Rougerie barely looked when he threw the pass but, with the rain falling, Bowe showed great composure to pluck the ball from the sky and give Ireland the early lead.

To chase his own chip-through and score despite the support of Kearney was a thing of beauty.

Rob Kearney – 9

As ever, superb chasing the high ball and added to that trademark skill by signalling his intent to run early. Perhaps could have defended better when one-one one with Fofana. Aside from that, incredible.

Replacements:

Donnacha Ryan: (on for O’Callaghan ’58) – 6

Crucial to massive defensive effort as Ireland avoided late penalties. Must start against Scotland

Eoin Reddan: (on for Murray ’59) – 6

Difficult situation to come into and did not impose his style as much as he would have like, but few can on the back foot in Paris.

Peter O’Mahony: (on for O’Brien 65) - 5

Slotted in seamlessly, didn’t put a foot wrong.

Ronan O’Gara: (on for D’Arcy ’70): -5

Did not see much of the ball, would have been interesting to see how he would have treated the phases in the red-zone.

Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Fergus McFadden. Not on long enough to be rated

Click here for more of TheScore.ie’s Six Nations coverage >

As it happened: France v Ireland, Six Nations

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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