Three Irish forwards stand tall in player ratings after Italy thrashing
ITALY 10-48 IRELAND
A much better performance from Ireland stopped the Six Nations rot, in Rome. The player ratings are dominated by some big forwards making huge impacts.
Had Ireland lost their fourth straight Six Nations game, stretching back to October 2020, they would have slipped to 8th in the world. However, as soon as Garry Ringrose got over for an early try, there was little chance of an Italian shock.
Ireland were denied an early Iain Henderson try when referee Mathieu Raynal and his TMO (Romain Poite) felt the Ulster lock was not in control of the ball. The visitors kept the foot down, though, and were rewarded when Ringrose broke a tackle, close in, to score.
Ireland's improved offloading game saw Hugo Keenan and Will Connors score, over on the left wing, as they went 27-3 clear. Just as it looked like a cricket score was being compiled, Italy flanker Johan Meyer got over for a try.
Ireland swapped Keith Earls for Jordan Larmour at half-time but it was his Munster teammate, CJ Stander that bagged the next try and he finished off from close range after only 43 minutes.
Will Connors got over for his second try of the game, with 15 minutes to play, but Ireland were still frustrated when Stander and James Lowe both had scores chalked off. There was relief,
Here's how we rated Andy Farrell's men in green:
Hugo Keenan - 7
Loves playing Italy. Bagged his third try against the Azzurri in two Test outings when he showed in support of Ringrose and dashed home after his teammate's offload.
Jordan Larmour - 7
Italians targeted him with restarts but he invariably ducked and dived for a gain of metres. Did well to get his offload away, over on the far wing, to tee up Will Connors' try. Only played 40 minutes, however.
Garry Ringrose - 7.5
Burst through two Italian defenders for Ireland's first try. Himself and Henshaw dovetailed well and he went close to s second try after the break.
Real determination from Garry Ringrose to get the opening try pic.twitter.com/XeEc3thsBv
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) February 27, 2021
Robbie Henshaw - 7
Another all-action shift from the Leinster centre. Stood up well to the big Italian ball-carriers and provided front-foot ball for his side.
James Lowe - 7
Early line break up the left wing but then (possibly following a game-plan) proceeded to kick away a lot of possession. Lovely reverse offload to Keenan in the second half and led his side for metres gained (102) again.
Johnny Sexton - 7
That slick handling and high line in attack, for the Connors try, is the main reason why he is still the premier No.10 in this country. Was a glutton for punishment with early carries into contact, but
Jamison Gibson-Park - 7.5
One quick-tap penalty didn't pay off, but was good to see our No.9 showing some spark. Missed a couple of defensive tackles but a lively outing, and a lot less kicking the ball away.
Dave Kilcoyne - 8
Pushing Cian Healy hard for that No.1 jersey after this appearance. Excellent at the scrum, big tackles in defence, strong carries and couple of hefty counter-rucks that had the Italian reeling. Stuck 13 tackles too.
Ronan Kelleher - 7
Won his side an early penalty with some nice work at the breakdown. Bold lineout throw over the back found a charging Henshaw. Quick-tap penalty almost set up another Irish try but was unlucky with a knock-on call.
Tadhg Furlong - 7
Conceded an early penalty in front of the posts. Unlucky to spill the ball forward off a Tadhg Beirne lineout steal. Very good at scrum-time and effective in the loose. Great to have him back.
Iain Henderson - 7
Looked to have scored a try, after eight minutes, but TMO Romain Poite harshly called it a knock-on. Tidy and effective.
James Ryan - 7
Was pinged at a couple of breakdowns in the space of five minutes, in the first half. Tackled like a demon and was solid in the set-piece but discipline let him down on a couple of occasions.
Tadhg Beirne - 7.5
Some big tackles and a lineout steal near his own tryline in the opening quarter. Didn't miss a tackle and made a few dominant carries.
Will Connors - 8
Made a superb chop tackle and steal mid-way through the first half. One that defence coaches will be replaying to their players for years to come. Got over for his second try of the game off a rolling maul.
CJ Stander - 8
Won two turnovers for his side in the first half and stuck a couple of big defensive tackles. Scored his 12th Test try to secure the bonus point. Really came to the fore in the second half as Ireland tried to put some distance between the sides.
Keith Earls (for Larmour '40) - 7
Early error when he kicked out on the full, but settled in after that. Bagged his 33rd Test try in the final moments.
Cian Healy (for Kilcoyne '46) - 7
Scrum kept up that oomph when he came on.
Andrew Porter (for Furlong '46) - 6
Won his side a scrum penalty just minutes after entering the fray. Conceded a penalty near the Italian tryline as Ireland were pushing for 50+ points.
Jack Conan (for Stander '63) - 7.5
Good lineout catch to start the maul for Connors' try. Made a nice breakdown turnover too.
Craig Casey (for Gibson Park '63) - 6
Almost had Lowe away but his pass was forward and the try was ruled out.
Rob Herring (for Kelleher '63) - 6.5
His latch helped shunt Connors over for his second try.
Ryan Baird (for Henderson '63) - 7
Big impact off the bench.
Billy Burns (for Henshaw '73) - N/A
Came on late in the piece.