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Player ratings: Ireland

Wings Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe scored as world champions South Africa ended a three-match losing streak against Ireland with a 27-20 first Test triumph in Pretoria on Saturday.


Liam Heagney rates the Ireland players!

15. Jamie Osborne – 7
What a venue to be given you Test debut. Looked the part too. Safe hands under the Garryowen. Excellent finish for his 35th-minute. Only frustration was having Arendse step inside too cheaply to score. Gone on 51.

14. Calvin Nash – 5.5
Played the full 80 but didn’t feature much as Ireland simply didn’t play with width in their attack down his side.

13. Robbie Henshaw – 6.5
His defiance helped to keep Ireland afloat in a first half where it seemed they could topple over. Best moment was the hard won yards at the kernel of the attack that earned his team their first penalty points on 13 minutes. Took a jarring dunt from Siya Kolisi soon after.

12. Bundee Aki – 6
The out-and-out Irish star at the World Cup, he was kept honest here. A brainless penalty concession early in the second half summed up his lack of general precision.

11. James Lowe – 5
Decision making in his own half cost his team hugely here. While he was excellent with the offload that created Osborne’s try and majestic in finishing his own breakaway score which was ruled out by TMO, he paid a heavy price for keeping a Handre Pollard touchfinder in play as Kolbe scored. Then made the desperate decision to play another Pollard kick in the in-goal, costing the scrum that resulted in a penalty try.


10. Jack Crowley – 6.5
Was Ireland’s best player for a chunk of the first half until a kick out on the full was followed by a missed penalty kick on 32 minutes. Got back at it in the second half but with Ireland’s attack struggling to fire, he couldn’t make the decisive difference and the late flourish versus 14 players was too late.

9. Craig Casey – 6.5
Given the enormous task of filling the void left by the injured Jamison Gibson-Park. Whereas JGP is all fizz and instinct, Casey is more methodical but after a slow start, he came to the boil. His 50/22 kick in the second half was a peach but he sadly exited on a medical cart after a head knock.

1. Andrew Porter – 6.5
You can’t fault his set-piece basics as the Irish scrum was solid while he was on and while his engine was also impressive given it is the 13th month of his season, he hurt his team with some rash breakdown interventions including conceding the off-feet penalty that gave Pollard points on 29 minutes. Gone on 53, back on 63, gone again on 74.


2. Dan Sheehan – 6
Mixed bag of a first half featuring a crooked throw, on the downside, and involvement in the Osborne try, on the upside. Didn’t come back out for the second half.

3. Tadhg Furlong – 6.5
Played 63 and was typical Furlong in many aspects but the odd ball carry here and there, which needed to happen in pressured times for his team, didn’t happen.

4. Joe McCarthy – 5.5
Looked like a player who was running on low at the end of a fine breakthrough season. Knocked on at the line early on, although the pass was poor from Peter O’Mahony. Gave up some penalties, including a not rolling that allowed the Boks to go 3-10 up in the 18th minute. Hooked on 50 for James Ryan.

5. Tadhg Beirne – 7
Looked pedestrian and yet he got around the place and played the full 80, putting in his tackle in a decent shift that included a chunky tackle count, maul effectiveness and breakdown nuisance.

6. Peter O’Mahony – 6
A decent tackle count but struggled to otherwise shine. Poor try-ruining pass to McCarthy. Also, got sat down by Damian de Allende, which wasn’t a good look. Only played 50.

7. Josh van der Flier – 6.5
A busy bee. Best moment was a huge turnover on his own 22 on 53 minutes with the game delicately poised.

8. Caelan Doris – 8.5
Mr Turnover W and by far the best Ireland player. Some very intelligent contributions the whole way through in all aspects of his game. Frustratingly held up over the line late on.


16. Ronan Kelleher – 5.5
Sent on at half-time, he gave up some key penalties including getting frustratingly penalised at the ruck for a technical that cancelled the Lowe try and then being yellow carded after the penalty try scrum. On the plus side, it was his break and nice pass that sent in Murray.

17. Cian Healy – 5
Played from 53 to 63, and again from 74. Won’t want to relieve the late shoved back scrum.

18. Finlay Bealham – 5.5
Arrived on 63 and it was his movement that sparked the play for Murray’s score. As with Healy, won’t want to see a replay of that scrum penalty try.

19. James Ryan – 6.5
A 50th-minute introduction, he immediately got stuck in with a big tackle and went on to do well.

20. Ryan Baird – 6.5
Replaced O’Mahony on 50 and was decent, getting rewarded for staying out wide to be able to score in the corner on 79 minutes.

21. Conor Murray – 6.5
Replaced the injured Casey for the closing 15 minutes and showed his class when finishing the Kelleher break. Generally energised the Irish play but it was too late as they were always playing catch-up.

22. Ciaran Frawley – 6
A 51st-minute introduction for Osborne, he stood up in the tackle immediately and went on not to let his team down.

23. Garry Ringrose – 7
A half-time swap for Henshaw, he played like a player who had a point to prove after a long time out. Excellent value in keeping Ireland in the contest.


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