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05th Dec 2020

Scots slayed as two forwards top our Ireland player ratings

Patrick McCarry

Ireland ratings


Andy Farrell’s side did not have it all their own way against Scotland in the Autumn Nations Cup. Our Ireland player ratings reflect the big impact made by two impressive forwards.

The first half saw Ireland go unrewarded on the scoreboard after a bright start. The Scots grew into the contest and went 6-0 up before Johnny sexton tagged a score back off the kicking tee.

Both sides traded penalties after that before Duncan Taylor was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on. Ireland eventually made them pay when Sexton’s smart kick caused the necessary chaos for Keith Earls to bag his 31st Test try.

Ireland have copped a lot of flak for starting second halves poorly, of late, but they ripped up that particular script today. Cian Healy bashed over from close range and Peter O’Mahony teed up Earls for his second with a lovely pass.

25-9 up, Ireland were almost home and hosed but Rob Herring switched off at the breakdown at Duhan van der Merwe darted through the gap before burning Jacob Stockdale to bag a converted try. Ireland steeled themselves, though, and Ross Byrne added two penalties to seal the victory.

Here’s how we rated Andy Farrell’s men in green:

Jacob Stockdale – 6

A mixed bag in the air – forced a Scottish knock-on, in the early exchanges, then shelled one under little pressure. Missed van der Merwe when he took advantage of Rob Herring switching off. His best contribution in attack was a lovely kick that sat up for Earls to attack, inside the Scottish 22.

Hugo Keenan – 7

Crucial tap-tackle on van der Merwe. Showed up with great effect over on the left wing, late in the first half. Another important intervention stopped van der Merwe getting away up the left wing.

Robbie Henshaw – 7.5

His prowess in the air came up trumps on a few occasions, particularly for Earls’ first half try. Some statement-making tackles made in defence.

Bundee Aki – 6

What you see is what you get from Aki. Very little sparkle but all heart and graft.

Keith Earls – 7

Was on hand to dot down his 31st Test try to punish Scotland when they were down to 14 men. After waiting a while for No.31, No.32 followed in the second half as he dived over in the corner.

Johnny Sexton – 7

Sublime kick to his left was crucial for that Earls try. Off the target with his first penalty attempt. The Scots sent a lot of traffic his way and he twice received treatment in the first half.

Conor Murray – 6

Did enough with one covering tackle on van der Merwe after Keenan had been beaten, out wide. Box-kicking on point. Made a great take under a high ball before his side were awarded a pressure-relieving penalty.

Cian Healy – 6

Poor pass, under pressure, to Bundee Aki and gave away a penalty for offside when he jumped the gun. Then penalised at an 18th minute scrum for pulling down Fagerson. The second half saw business pick up as he bulled over for his team’s second try.

Rob Herring – 5

Threw a lineout straight to the Scots inside his own 22 and was blessed that the Irish defence held out. Will be glad there will be no video review on Monday morning as he switched off and had a shocker for that van der Merwe try. Conceded a penalty not long after that.

Andrew Porter – 8

Hasn’t had it all his own way, but has really stepped up for Ireland since Tadhg Furlong picked up his injury. A head-wrecker for the Scots, in the loose. Solid at the scrum. Won his side a crucial penalty with 20 minutes to go.

James Ryan – 6

His best contribution to the cause came in defence as he connected with 15 tackles in another 80+ minute outing.

Iain Henderson – 6

Showed soft hands to put Doris through a gap. Made one decent rip in a tackle but a penalty had already been awarded against his side. Stuck seven tackles. Left the fray early after picking up a knock.

CJ Stander – 5

Strangely subdued Autumn Nations Cup for the usually excellent Stander. Made little ground on his carries and fell off a few tackles.

Peter O’Mahony – 8

Livid with himself when his grubber kick for Earls went out of play, early on. Buried Ali Price on one carry, over on the right wing.

Let Hogg know he was there too. Necessary physicality, as per usual, from the Munster man. That was seen with his latch and drive on Healy for his try. Then assisted Earls with a peach of a pass. Ireland missed him when he went off for his HIA, which he passed. Did concede a late breakdown penalty. Was then denied what would have been a great try by having a foot in touch.

Caelan Doris – 8

A few strong carries in the opening stages but blotted his copy-book by conceding a breakdown penalty. Was almost through for a try after a nice line break but was ankle-tapped. Made ground with countless carries as he busted through tackles.


Quinn Roux (for Henderson ’38) – 7

Made a real impact after coming on, and great lineout jumping too.

Ross Byrne (for Sexton ’63) – 6

His penalties sealed victory.

Eric O’Sullivan (for Healy ’65) – 6

Some strong carries.

Ronan Kelleher ( for Herring ’65) – 5

Josh van der Flier (for Doris ’65) – 5

Came on for O’Mahony when he was having his HIA.

John Ryan (for Porter ’72) – N/A

Chris Farrell (for Henshaw ’78) – N/A



Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts, and has already featured interviews with Brian O’Driscoll, Nigel Owens, Sean Cronin, Shane Williams, Mike Brown, CJ Stander, Ugo Monye, Sene Naoupu and Dan Leo.