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Player Ratings: Ireland

OPINION: Ireland’s World Cup quarterfinal curse rages on.

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Coming into the knockout rounds on the back of an impressive 17-Test unbeaten run, Ireland were sent packing by the All Blacks.

The All Blacks took the lead through a Richie Mo’unga penalty goal in the seventh minute and didn’t look back. Ireland mounted a late attack in the hopes of winning but fell short, losing 24-28.

Their quarterfinal hoodoo continues.

They’re now 0-8 at this stage of the competition.

Here’s how Ireland rated.

Hugo Keenan – 5.5/10
Fullback Hugo Keenan was safe out the back but didn’t really offer much against a rampaging All Blacks outfit. Keenan only carried the ball a couple of times and made seven tackles, and didn’t have a huge say in Ireland’s potential comeback late in the second term.

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Mack Hansen – 5.5
Australian-born wing Mack Hansen left the field in a world of hurt about 15 minutes into the second half. Hansen missed training earlier this week due to a calf injury and that appeared to be the problem once again as he was helped from the field. It was a tough blow for Ireland with Hansen one of the team’s better players during the second term.

With a compression sock around his calf, wing Mack Hansen sent the Ireland crowd into a frenzy with an electrifying line break during the first half – but Hansen really came alive in his 15 minutes on the park after the break. Hansen converted a 50/22 and looked threatening with the ball in hand.

Garry Ringrose – 6.5
Garry Ringrose impressed during the opening term with some purposeful carries with the ball. The centre was among the team leaders for runs by HT, which included an eye-catching line break just after Bundee Aki’s try.

Bundee Aki- 7.5
Once again, Bundee Aki was clearly Ireland’s best player. The New Zealand-born centre ran with purpose and intent every time he got his hands on the ball, and it worked wonders with the No. 12 getting over the gain line each and every time. It caused New Zealand problems too. Aki also scored Ireland’s first try as he beat Rieko Ioane, Shannon Frizell and Tyrel Lomax to cross for the score.

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James Lowe – 3
James Lowe had one of his worst performances in an Irish jersey. Lowe dropped the ball behind him and over the sideline with his first touch, and this practically summed up the wing’s off night at Stade de France. Lowe wasn’t just off, he was ineffective in practically all facets of the game.

Johnny Sexton – 7
First things first, congratulations Johnny Sexton on a brilliant rugby career. The Ireland captain played his last Test on Saturday – there would be no fairytale World Cup triumph that Sexton so rightly deserved. Instead, it was more All Blacks heartbreak.

Everything went through Sexton, as you’d expect. With Ireland looking to mount attack after attack with time up on the clock, the ball went to the veteran flyhalf. Sexton looked threatening, but it wasn’t to be. Sexton only missed one shot at goal but it was a costly one with the match coming down to the wire.

Jamison Gibson-Park – 4
Ireland couldn’t quite get things going early on against the All Blacks and a lot of that, unfortunately, comes back to halfback Jamison Gibson-Park. The New Zealand-born No. 9 was playing at a team different tempo to his Irish teammates in attack and they couldn’t keep up. Ireland players were caught isolated on multiple occasions during the first-term, but there were moments were the fast-paced play worked wonders.

Gibson-Park finished the half with a decisive try just before the half-time break. The scrum-half caught Will Jordan in two minds as he sliced through the All Blacks’ defence for the score. But overall, it was a frustrating night for Gibson-Park with the halfback making some telling errors after the break.

Andrew Porter – 5
Prop Andrew Porter was relatively impressive for Ireland during the opening term. Watching on from the grandstand at Stade de France it was impossible to miss the tireless front-rower who finished the first half with the most carries out of any Irish player. Porter was penalised inside the opening minute, though, which was a blip on an otherwise strong performance. Porter was on the field for 75 minutes though and deserves some plaudits for that.

Dan Sheehan – 5.5
Hooker Dan Sheehan worked hard around the park – carrying the ball 10 times, which was a particular highlight – and was largely accurate at the set-piece. Sheehan had a lineout won against the throw by All Black Ardie Savea during the first term, but this wasn’t the norm at the set-piece.

Tadhg Furlong – 5.5
Tadhg Furlong was a defensive work-horse for Ireland on Saturday evening. Furlong made 11 tackles, which saw him finish among the leaders for Ireland by the time he was replaced 10 minutes into the second-half. Ireland were bested at the set-piece, although Furlong held his own in an individual battle with All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot.

Tadhg Beirne – 6
On a tough night for Ireland, lock Tadgh Beirne threw everything he could at a relentless All Blacks side. Beirne finished with the equal-most tackles out of any Irish player with 17 and also contributed to a steady set-piece. Not a brilliant performance but not a poor one either.

Iain Henderson – 5.5
Veteran lock Iain Henderson jogged off the field at Stade de France after a disappointing night against New Zealand. Ireland struggled to take any ascendency on the Test and that reflects on Henderson’s rating. While the Irish’ set-piece was sound, Henderson was ineffective for long stretches of this nail-biting quarter-final.

Peter O’Mahoney – 5.5
Playing his 101st Test match, Peter O’Mahoney was uncharacteristically quiet against the All Blacks. O’Mahoney went missing, for long periods of the Test too. But to his credit, the blindside flanker plied his trade in the dark arts of rugby – finishing with 15 tackles and some decent work at the breakdown.

Josh van der Flier – 6
Some may disagree with this but Josh van der Flier was one of Ireland’s best during the first-half in particular. The world-class openside flanker was in the thick of the action early and carried that form throughout the rest of his time on the field. Van der Flier finished with the equal-most tackles out of any Irish player.

That being said, while the No. 7 seemed to be everywhere, not a lot paid off for him. Van der Flier had a tough night at the breakdown, missed a couple of key tackles, and was penalised in the 18th minute for not releasing the ball. Van der Flier was good in moments, but in reflection was not great.

Caelan Doris – 6
Ireland have 55% of possession against the All Blacks, but like a lot of his teammates, Number Eight Caelan Doris made his mark on the defensive side of the ball. The backrower finished the night with an impressive 13 tackles and only two carries.

Replacements:

Ronan Kelleher – 6
Dave Kilcoyne – 5
Finlay Bealham – 5.5
Joe McCarthy – 6
Jack Conan – 6.5
Conor Murray – 5.5
Jack Crowley – N/A
Jimmy O’Brien – 6.5 – Looked really good off the bench. Replaced injured wing Mack Hansen.

By Finn Morton, Rugbypass

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