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Player Ratings: Ireland

OPINION: Ireland showcased their mettle against Scotland in a Rugby World Cup 2023 pool stage statement 36-14 win. The so-called ‘green machine’ emerged victorious in a largely one-sided contest that was a treat for Irish fans and torture for the Scots.

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Here’s our Ireland player ratings:

1. Andrew Porter – 8.5/10
Porter anchored the scrum, his formidable presence just about getting the better of Zander Fagerson. His solid showing acted as a counterweight to an Irish scrum which was creaking on the tighthead side. Was seen winning turnovers in the loose too.

2. Dan Sheehan – 8
Sheehan’s lineout throwing was pitch-perfect and he put in a rust-less shift after returning from several weeks on the sideline. Plenty of explosive runs were thrown in for good measure, scoring in the corner just after halftime. Had the most carries of any Irish player.

3. Tadhg Furlong – 6
He was struggling to contain Pierre Schoemann at scrum time, giving away a penalty early door. Displayed his usual strength and dynamism in the loose. tackling his heart out, but his middling setpiece performance continues to be a concern.

4. Tadhg Beirne – 7
A couple of uncharacteristic handling errors aside, Beirne’s versatility shone as he proved equally adept in the lineout and breakdown, disrupting Scotland’s rhythm at every turn. Kept on popping up in attack too.

5. Iain Henderson – 8
A rare start saw Henderson bring his physicality to the fore, and his leadership was invaluable in the heat of battle. Deservedly broke the Scottish line for a 5-pointer and the question will have to be asked has he done enough to pry away the number five jersey from James Ryan.

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6. Peter O’Mahony – 7.5
O’Mahony’s work at the breakdown was crucial, and he showcased his trademark tenacity in defence, tackling like a dog all night. Showed he is still a viable carrying option, all but setting up Mack Hansen only for the winger to knock it on with the line beckoning.

7. Josh van der Flier – 7
Van der Flier was a nuisance at the breakdown and was one of Ireland’s leading tacklers. A little quieter in the ball-carrying department of late, although he had his moments.

8. Caelan Doris – 7
It started ignominiously for Doris, who was pinged for a high tackle with five minutes on the clock. Other than that he was a constant threat with ball in hand, making hard yards and ensuring quick recycling.

9. Jamison Gibson-Park – 8.5
Gibson-Park provided a sublime service to the backline and managed the tempo effectively. His decision-making near the line was impeccable.

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10. Johnny Sexton – 7.5
Sexton orchestrated the proceedings with his usual precision, controlling the game’s flow and kicking accurately from the tee. A stark contrast to Finn Russell across from him, who was forced into attempting to make something from nothing as Scotland’s attacking waves repeatedly broke against Ireland’s unwavering green wall. Triggered some argie bargie after retaliating for a trip from Ollie Smith, who got 10 minutes for his troubles.

11. James Lowe – 7.5
Lowe got the honours when he crossed the whitewash for Ireland’s first try after just 65 seconds and his territorial kicking game meant that Ireland repeatedly got the better of the kick tennis exchanges. Rumours of a hospital visit due to an eye injury were debunked on Twitter, although exactly what ailed him was not clear.

12. Bundee Aki – 7.5
Aki’s robust carries and intelligent lines of running created openings for Ireland’s attack, even though he wasn’t quite as big an influence on the game as he was against the Boks. Still, a dandy performance.

13. Garry Ringrose – 7
Ringrose’s midfield partnership with Aki was a pivotal part of Ireland’s attacking strategy, and his defensive intelligence was crucial. Spent most of the game on the wing after Hansen came off.

14. Mack Hansen – 5
Failed to take an admittedly difficult ball with the line beckoning. Went off for a HIA and didn’t return, having been kept relatively quiet by the Scots in the short time he was on the pitch.

15. Hugo Keenan – 8
Keenan’s positional awareness and ability under the high ball were vital, and he linked up well in attack. A brilliant read on Darcy Graham’s cut inside saved Ireland’s bacon at one point, a read that epitomised Keenan’s resolute defence and Mensa-level rugby IQ. Got away with slipping into the touch, saving his blushes.

REPLACEMENTS:

Ronan Kelleher – 7
Provided fresh legs in the front row.

Dave Kilcoyne – 7
Put himself about in the loose.

Finlay Bealham – 7.5
Contributed to the forward battle and grabbed a meatpie too.

James Ryan – 6
Brought plenty work-rate off the bench despite his wrist injury, although he seemed to aggravate it.

Jack Conan – 6
It’s been a minute for Conan. Made an impact with his ball-carrying and defensive contributions.

Conor Murray – 7
Steered the ship after coming on after half-time for James Lowe, slowing down the pace with Ireland way ahead on the scoreboard.

Jack Crowley – 8
Brought youthful energy and looked totally at ease after coming on for Sexton. His kick for Garry Ringrose’s try was nigh on perfect.

Stuart McCloskey – 7.5
Got over 60 minutes and was good value for after coming on for Hansen.

By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass

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