Full Ireland ratings as France win in Dublin for first time in a decade
IRELAND 13-15 FRANCE
France won a Six Nations match in Ireland for the first time in 10 years as they withstood a second half fight-back. The Ireland ratings reflect a game but fruitless fight.
The Ireland players in Andy Farrell's squad tell us they are on the verge of something special. After their third straight Six Nations defeat [over 2020 and 2021] they look far, far from it.
With both sides feeling each other out and putting a lot of air under the ball, it was not a great first 20 minutes to the contest. That was not helped when Mattieu Jalibert and Billy Burns both missed kickable penalties.
Burns did put Ireland 3-0 ahead after 21 minutes, though, and the hosts looked set to pull further ahead when Bernard La Roux was sin-binned for a clear trip on Keith Earls. James Lowe looked to have scored in the corner, moments after, but his trailing leg was just in touch and it was chalked off by the TMO.
France, still down to 14 men, went down the far end of the pitch and cut Ireland to shreds before their captain Charles Ollivon cantered over from out wide. Jalibert converted that score and added a penalty just before half-time.
The start of the second half saw Ireland lose Billy Burns, Cian Healy and Iain Henderson to Head Injury Assessments. Healy and Henderson had a horrific head clash but both passed their HIAs and were permitted to return.
By that stage, Damien Penaud had scored in the corner after Lowe was shrugged off too easily and Ireland sub Ronan Kelleher had kept home hopes alive with an opportunistic score, less than a minute after coming off the bench.
Ross Byrne added a penalty with 15 minutes to go and Ireland were a penalty or drop goal from winning it. France responded by hogging the ball for much of the final 10 minutes, though, and their defence held strong at the death.
Here's how we rated Andy Farrell's men in green...
Hugo Keenan - 6
Was one of the few Irish players to keep communicating and encouraging all day. Did his defensive tasks adeptly and was sprightly when he got the ball in hand with space to pelt into. Was turned over at the very end.
Keith Earls - 5
God love him, as he is only following out his orders, but all he seems to be doing these past 12 month is chasing box-kicks and aerial punts.
Garry Ringrose - 6
Unable to provide that magic in attack to break through a rigid French defence. At his best in the opening 30 minutes but no huge moments thereafter.
Robbie Henshaw - 6
Made a few hard carries in the first half that got his team over the gainline. Impact lessened after the break but he still made some lusty tackles in defence.
James Lowe - 5
His Test credentials have taken a knock in the past week. Denied a try by smart Gael Fickou defence in the first half. His left boot as a kicking weapon was useful but was exposed in defence for Penaud's try. Kicked out on the full after 66 minutes to give the French a shot in the arm.
Billy Burns - 5
Missed an early penalty from 37 metres out but settled his, and Ireland's, nerves soon after with one from close range. Was on a kicking brief, like his half-back partner, and those tactics rarely paid off.
Jamison Gibson-Park - 6
"He still also possesses the same propensity of box kicking."
That was what Fabien Galthie made of the Leinster scrumhalf, before the match. Has a lot more going for him than that, but Ireland's tactics dictated he kicked ball after ball into the air for his teammates to chase.
Cian Healy - 6
No carries but got through a heap of work in the loose, sticking 13 tackles in his 55 minutes on the pitch before his head collision with Henderson. Returned to make a couple of huge hits as Ireland fought to get back into the tie.
Rob Herring - 5
Early knock-on was hard on him as the pass was intended for Ringrose. Himself and van der Flier were left grasping at air as Marchand left them for dead. Lineout throwing was much improved.
Andrew Porter - 7
Won his side an early scrum penalty and ran his legs into stumps again.
Tadhg Beirne - 6
Did not have the same bite or impact, in attack and defence, as last weekend. Struggles to put two good games together for the national team.
Iain Henderson - 7
Ireland's lineout was looking good, at least, and they disrupted that French set-piece. Henderson was a big part of that. Some hard carries, up the guts, and stuck his tackles.
Rhys Ruddock - 6
Won his side a big breakdown penalty after 16 minutes and was crucial to that French set-piece being disrupted. Kept going until the death.
Josh van der Flier - 6
A couple of decent carries in the first half and was all business at the breakdown. Marchand burst through his tackle in the second half and Ireland were lucky to survive.
CJ Stander - 6
France had his number today. Never stopping putting himself forward for carries and pumping his legs but he was effectively shut out and kept from doing too much damage.
Ronan Kelleher - 8
Super sub gave Ireland hope with a try just after coming on.
Ross Byrne (for Burns) - 7
Looked at home in the 10 role when he came on.
Will Connors (for van der Flier) - 7
Nice pressure on Dupont to force a turnover.
Tadhg Furlong (for Porter) - 7
As good as Porter is doing, he will be pressing to start against Italy.
Ed Byrne (for Cian Healy) - 5
Jordan Larmour (for Keith Earls) - 5
Ultan Dillane (for Iain Henderson) - 5