CJ Stander and Simon Zebo top ratings after one of Ireland's finest, bravest victories 7 years ago

CJ Stander and Simon Zebo top ratings after one of Ireland's finest, bravest victories

Ireland 27-24 Australia

Battered, tattered and victorious. What a bunch of legends.


Ireland battered the Australians [in a legal way] for the first 25 minutes and had a 10-0 lead to show for it. Paddy Jackson's penalty finally generated a change from the 0-0 scoreline and an exhilarating Simon Zebo line break and offload set up Iain Henderson for a fine try.

Garry Ringrose then scored one of those tries that you'll see on Reeling in the Years in 2032. You'll still shed a tear.

He jinked inside the Wallabies midfield, ducked past another gold shirt and he was over. Jackson converted but Dane Haylett-Petty responded with a try under the posts to make it 17-7 at the break.

Jared Payne congratulates try scorer Garry Ringrose 26/11/2016


With three backs already out of action, there was a sense of foreboding as Australia pressed at the start of the second half. Sure enough, the visitors eventually got over in the corner through Tevita Kurindrani.

That made it 17-14 but Jackson extended the lead to six with a penalty before the Aussies charged straight back up he pitch. Sefanaia Naivalu, on as a HIA replacement, showed a clean pair of heels to the makeshift Irish backline and, once Bernard Foley converted his score, Ireland found themselves 21-20 behind. That soon became 24-20 as Schmidt emptied what was left of his bench.

One of the changes was Peter O'Mahony, originally set to play for Munster before Sean O'Brien pulled up lame. He made two huge carries and CJ Stander another. Gold jerseys were sucked in and Ireland took advantage on an overlap for Keith Earls to dot down in the corner.

The cheer was big when Jackson converted. It was bigger still when Rory Best went off with five minutes to go.


It was gigantic when Stander won a penalty in the Irish 22 and their battered players held on for a truly memorable win.

Here's how we rated Joe Schmidt's men in green.

Rob Kearney N/A

Went off injured after slipping into Israel Folau. Just before that he had set Trimble free with a lovely pass. Concussion again, by the looks of it.


Andrew Trimble - 6

What a shame he had to go off as he was Ireland's main ball-carrying back and he was posing questions. Threw one pass into touch and had a knock-on but Jackson's pass to him was above his head. Close to a try but was snaffled five metres out after cutting in.

Jared Payne - 6

This man is hard as several nails. Battled through injury and had to remain on as Kearney and Trimble left the fray. His passing was crisp and precise. Could not last beyond half-time though.

Garry Ringrose - 8


If he hadn't arrived last week, he has arrived now. Superb duck and jink inside that fooled the Aussies and led to a try that will bring a mountain of Brian O'Driscoll comparisons. Scythed in half early on but recovered well. Won a penalty by playing scrum-half at one hotly contested ruck.

Keith Earls - 8

Was a constant source of worry for the Australians down his flank, with one line break and offload for the Henderson try. Threatened in attack, defended like a hound and got a well deserved try.

Paddy Jackson - 8

Not going for the posts in the opening stages was more a statement of intent than slight on his goal-kicking. He soon proved how sound his kicking was and settled our nerves in the second half with a penalty to make it 20-14.

Conor Murray - 8

One overcooked box-kick had us worried but he got his act together. Kicked well, urged his pack on and made enough snipes to keep the Aussies honest.

Jack McGrath - 7

One superb groundhog steal on the deck that had the crowd roaring. Scrummed well and fought his heart out.

Rory Best - 8

Won a hugely important turnover in the first half as Australia were starting to make a fist of it. Again, his chatty captaincy to the referee played an important role in some big decisions.

Tadhg Furlong - 7

Fortunate to still have his head after being planted into the turf by Dean Mumm. Not as many of those fierce fends from last week but he carried extremely well.

Devin Toner - 7

Rucks, rucks, rucks. That was his brief and that's what he threw himself into. Pillar, clear-outs, first or second man in. He did it all. Made a few one-metre gain carries.

Iain Henderson - 7

Iain Henderson scores the first try of the game 26/11/2016

Had to make a lot of his carries off standing starts but always took a couple of men out and presented well. Was on hand for the pass from Zebo that led to his vital try. Doughty rather than dynamic but can be pleased with his shift.

CJ Stander - 9

Carrying machine. A first half for the ages. This man always starts like a house on fire and today was no different. 10 first half carries, two big lineout takes, a turnover and some hefty hits. Massive carry took out three Aussies to help tee up that Earls try.

Josh van der Flier - 8

Ireland's top tackler and enforcer in broken play. Showed up all over the pitch to help shut down the Australians when they appeared to be coming from all angles.

Jamie Heaslip - 7

Surprising to see him last just over the hour but another shift of commitment, intelligence and bravery. Focused himself on trying to nullify Pocock and Hooper at the breakdown so made fewer carries and tackles than usual.


Simon Zebo celebrates with try scorer Iain Henderson 26/11/2016

Zebo (for Kearney '10) - 9

Our best player when Ireland turned up the heat and tested the Wallabies defence. Stunning grubber set up Earls' offload for Henderson's try. Made a big hit on Hooper in the Australian 22 that roused the Irish fans.

Carbery (for Trimble '32) - 8

On to play fullback for 50 minutes against the World Cup finalists. Made a couple of crucial interventions, including an ankle-wrapper on a flying Foley.

Marmion (for Payne '40) - 8

On as a right winger and did a decent old job of it.

Dillane (for Henderson '56) - 8

Made a great line-breaking burst straight up the middle. Carried with menacing intent.

O'Mahony (for Heaslip '61) - 7

Two gigantic, angry carries in the lead-up to the Earls try.

Healy (for McGrath '61) - 6

Brought the fight.

Bealham (for Furlong '70) - 6

Played a big part in that scrum series we just about survived.

Dick Clerkin makes his GAA Hour debut to talk about a wonderful career and argue passionately with Colm Parkinson over Sky Sports GAA. Subscribe here on iTunes.