Full player ratings as Ireland dominate Wales to top world rankings
IRELAND 19-10 WALES
Ireland looked back to their best (ie: their 2018 vintage) as they rolled over Grand Slam champions Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland looked a side entirely transformed from the one that were left shell-shocked by the English in Twickenham a fortnight ago. CJ Stander, Bundee Aki and Rob Kearney all stood out while there were flashes that Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton had some zip back in their game. The Ireland ratings reflect their much-improved performance.
Ireland took the lead through Kearney's first Test try in just under four years but Wales were always threatening and Leigh Halfpenny tagged three points back with a penalty. Warren Gatland's men took the lead just after the half-hour mark when, moments after Robbie Henshaw had held Dan Biggar up, the Leinster centre was caught out by a charging Hadleigh Parkes. HALF-TIME: Ireland 7-10 Wales
The first 20 minutes of the second half was all Ireland and the home side's immense pressure was rewarded with tries for Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan. In the middle of all that, there was a standing ovation for Rory Best after his final appearance on home soil and Keith Earls limped out of the game.
Ireland pressed for the fourth try, to confirm their dominance, but Wales held out. In the end, Ireland were deserving winners and, with it, they go number one in the world rankings heading into the World Cup.
IRELAND RATINGS: Here's how we rated Joe Schmidt's men in green:
15. Rob Kearney - 9
Covered well from behind his own tryline to prevent an early George North try. Looked assured in the air and carried with intent, scoring his first Ireland try in almost four years. Backed up Henshaw by sliding in to prevent that Biggar score.
14. Jordan Larmour - 8
Went close to scoring, over on his wing, when Murray found him with a bullet pass. Drifted inside, looking for work, a few times. Won his team an important turnover penalty early in the second half. Pass for Ringrose, out wide, was too high, could have been a try otherwise.
13. Robbie Henshaw - 8
Made a 50-metre sprint back to prevent an all-but-certain Dan Biggar try. Missed a tackle on Parkes, soon after, to allow the Welsh in for their first try. Teamed up well with Larmour to secure an Irish penalty.
12. Bundee Aki - 9
A machine today. Hit the line with snarling menace and ran roughshod over poor Rhys Patchell. Spirited in defence too. Put a hurting on a lot of Welsh lads. May well have tied down the 12 jersey for the World Cup opener.
11. Keith Earls - 7
Needed Rob Kearney to cover for him when a chip in behind had him caught out. Lively in attack and kicked well, up the line, when few other options were on. Picked one off the grass from Murray to keep a second half attack going.
10. Johnny Sexton - 8
Forced a turnover just outside his 22 when he stood tall to the charging Parkes. Sharp passing in the lead-up to Kearney's try.
9. Conor Murray - 7.5
A nice bit of zip back in his pass. With Ireland deigning to go away from the box-kick [for now] one of Murray's best weapons has been back-pocketed. Only made a couple of carries as Ireland sought to get the ball out to first and second receivers quickly. Assisted another couple of tries, improving upon his record for Ireland.
1. Cian Healy - 6
Was looking good for about 30 minutes but took a couple of knocks and did not return for the second half.
2. Rory Best - 7
Lost his first two lineout throws but it got better thereafter. Secured a turnover in his own 22 after some excellent jackaling.
3. Tadhg Furlong - 8
Another who was looking back to his best. Scrum functioned well and he was a handful in the loose. Boshed over for his second Ireland try after the break.
Tadhg Furlong, everyone 🙌🐂pic.twitter.com/UwQFG3dZE9
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 7, 2019
4. James Ryan - 9
Ireland function so much better with Ryan in their second row. Huge physical presence and he stopped a few big Welsh ball carriers in their tracks. Powered over for his second Test try after the hour mark.
5. Jean Kleyn - 8
Was on hand to secure an early turnover after sticking a giant paw out when North offloaded. Won his team another turnover in front of his posts, inside the 22, on 13 minutes.
6. CJ Stander - 8
That's more like it. Made a few hard carries for little gain, in the opening 15 minutes, but grew into the contest and ran straight over a couple of lads.
7. Josh van der Flier - 7.5
Made a rollicking line break and offload near the end of the first half. Got off the line with serious pace and topped the tackle count in the opening 40 minutes.
8. Jack Conan - 6
Still yet to have a big barnstormer in the Irish jersey. Made 15 carries but most of them ere straight up the guts and platform setters.
Dave Kilcoyne (for Healy '40) - 8
Brought some real bite to the side when he came on.
Sean Cronin (for Best '52) - 7
Garry Ringrose (for Earls '52) - 6
Andrew Porter (for Furlong '57) - 6
Iain Henderson (for Kleyn '60) - 7
Won his side a big turnover in their own 22.
Rhys Ruddock (for van der Flier '60) - 6
Jack Carty (for Sexton '63) - 7
Loves a dink. Had the Welsh guessing whenever he got the ball in his mitts.
Luke McGrath (for Murray '70)