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31st Oct 2020

Ireland player ratings after second half horror show in France

Patrick McCarry


The Ireland ratings are led by two players that never – not even for a moment – quit the fight.

England are your 2020 Guinness Six Nations champions after France defeated Ireland in Paris, but not by enough points to pip Eddie Jones’ men to the title.

Ireland responded superbly to conceding an early try to Antoine Dupont and were by far the better side in the opening 25 minutes. During that period, they scored a converted try from Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton knocked over a penalty to make it 10-7.

It was all looking so well until a Jacob Stockdale error in defence led to a Caelan Doris yellow card and a penalty try. Romain Ntamack added three more points to make it 17-13 and so it stayed at the break after Ireland turned down a simple penalty only to be turned over near the French tryline.

Ireland needed the first score of the second half but a cascade of errors led to Ntamack finishing off a flowing, broken play attack up the left flank. The Toulouse outhalf added six more points, off the kicking tee, and Ireland were suddenly facing a mountainous task.

Robbie Henshaw gave Ireland, and their supporters, hope with 20 minutes to go with an excellent solo try but that was followed by penalties not finding touch, knock-ons and terrible lineouts. The killer blow was delivered by Viremi Vakawata when he benefitted some fine Ntamack play to score.

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

Jacob Stockdale – 4

Had a defensive shocker in the first half. Himself and Keenan were hesitant in the lead-up to the Dupont try then he shelled the ball on his 22 to leave Caelan Doris in an awful position and a penalty try was conceded. Made some ground in the second half but his spill when trying to find Keenan summed up a night to forget, despite a consolation try. He will have better days in green, but may find himself under pressure in the starting XV.

Andrew Conway – 5

Rarely seen in attack for the second week running. Needed to be stronger in the tackle in the lead-up to Ntamack’s try.

Robbie Henshaw – 7

Was superb in defence, shooting out of the line a few times to make big tackles. Scored a superb solo try to give his side hope, with 20 minutes to go.

Bundee Aki – 6

Brought his usual intensity to bear and made some hard carries to get his side front-foot ball. Guilty of an awful grubber kick that eventually led to the broken play try finished off by Ntamack.

Hugo Keenan – 5

If Keenan was an inch taller (even a centimetre) he would have cleanly held that Sexton kick-through and had his third Test try in the corner. Needed to be swift to prevent a fourth French try, on 56 minutes.

Johnny Sexton – 5

Shot out of the line and missed a tackle before that Dupont try. Put in a lovely kick in behind, which led to that Bouthier being sin-binned. Made the call, before half-time, to go for an attacking lineout at the cost of three points. Some aimless kicking in the second half.

Conor Murray – 6

Was penalised at a couple of breakdowns but was very good otherwise. Exits and box-kicks were spot on in the first half. Influenced waned as Ireland fell away in the second half.

Cian Healy – 6

Showed tremendous determination in the lead-up to and including his try-scoring carry from close in. Went off for a HIA but returned to the fray.

Rob Herring – 5

Decent lineout throwing and solid in the scrum but did not have much influence on the game in attack or defence.

Andrew Porter – 6

Set a positive tempo by winning the first scrum for his side. Gave away one penalty but won his side another and the French definitely knew all about him.

Tadhg Beirne – 6

Scrapped his boots off out there. Made ground on a few carries too.

James Ryan – 8

A cracking effort from the Leinster lock. Left it all out there as he carried with menacing intent and tackle like his life depended on it.

Caelan Doris – 5

Early turnover after a great breakdown steal. Looked well up for the fight. Can’t blame him for the tackle that led to the France penalty try as he was on a hiding to nothing.

Will Connors – 6.5

Superb tenacity and technique around the breakdown. Did not off much in the form of carries but defended heartily in his 52 minutes on the pitch.

CJ Stander – 8

Had some big moments in both halves. Kept battling away and won his side a couple of big turnovers in the second half.


Chris Farrell (for Aki ’52) – 5

Came on and missed Stockdale with a reverse pass soon after.

Peter O’Mahony (for Connors ’52) – 5

Dave Heffernan (for Herring ’57) – 4

Lineout went to pot after he came on. Not all on Heffernan but not a great look.

Ed Byrne (for Healy ’60) – 5

Ultan Dillane (for Beirne ’60) – 6

A couple of big carries when he came on.

Jamison Gibson-Park (for Murray ’65) -5

Ross Byrne (for Sexton ’67) – 4

Finlay Bealham (for Porter ’67) – 5



Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts. You can catch up on all our episodes from past seasons and interviews with Conrad Smith, Victor Matfield, Simon Zebo, Sean O’Brien, Drew Mitchell, Jean De Villiers, Finn Russell, Mike Brown, Brian O’Driscoll, Tana Umaga and much, much more.

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