Player Ratings: Grand slam quest intact
OPINION: In the most consequential Six Nations game of the round, Ireland’s Grand Slam steam train was pitted against a Scotland side that can rightly lay claim to being the best of its generation – and one eager to spoil Andy Farrell and Co’s party.
What transpired was a bizarre game in which Ireland suffered an unprecedented number of injuries and left filling holes all over the pitch, with Josh van der Flier left throwing lineouts and Cian Healy playing hooker.
Yet Ireland, who were on the rocks for periods, found a way, as good teams have a habit of doing.
Check out how the Irish players rated
15 Hugo Keenan – 7.5
Solid outing in the maelstrom, even if he didn’t get to shine in attack as much as in previous rounds.
14 Mack Hansen – 9
A remarkable finish to beat Duhan van der Merwe and settle Irish nerves off and seemed to be involved in everything good Ireland did in attack. On the other side of the ball was responsible for multiple turnovers. A near faultless performance.
13 Garry Ringrose – 6
Returned to the fray after recovering from a calf injury. Not his finest game from a defensive point of view, falling off a handful of tackles in the first half. His game ended abruptly when a brutal hip-to-head contact saw him needing significant treatment from the medics.
12 Bundee Aki – 7
A productive shift from Aki, with a number of deft touches in attack alongside the rough stuff. Tackled his heart out.
11 James Lowe – 7.5
Some key defensive contributions, not least shooting out of the line for a man-and-ball stop on Stuart Hogg on 22 minutes. A couple of unforced errors but they paled against his overall contribution here, which included a well-taken try.
10 Johnny Sexton – 5.5
An at-times scatty performance from the Irish icon, maybe not surprising given the chaotic game nature of the game. Became the joint leading points scorer in Six Nations history, as you do.
9 Conor Murray – 6
A mixed bag from the Munsterman, with Gibson bringing an immediate impact off the bench in terms of speed and clarity in terms of how Ireland attacked.
1 Andrew Porter – 7
Scrumaged well, getting into Zander Fagerson, if a little quiet in the loose by his own standards.
2 Dan Sheehan – NA
The hooker looked to have scored yet again before it was deemed illegal on a technicality. Came off after 18 minutes.
3 Tadhg Furlong – 7
Back after 100 days out, the tighthead was backed to start despite the extended injury layover. Was in the thick of things from the off, scything down Duhan Van Der Merwe with his first contribution. Would have been forgiven ring-rust but there was very little on show here.
4 Iain Henderson – 7
Despite a bright start, the Lion came off with what looked like a broken wrist after just 24 minutes.
5 James Ryan – 7.5
An absolutely huge defensive shift from Ryan. Fumbled a lineout on the Scottish 5-metre line, albeit off a slightly overthrown effort from Kelleher. It was a big moment but he stayed in the fight and was unlucky not to add to his impressive tally of tries this Six Nations.
6 Peter O’Mahony – 8
It was a day for a player like O’Mahony, whose dogged performance was summed in when he threw the 6’5 Blair Kinghorn into touch like a ragdoll.
7 Josh van der Flier – 8.5
Part of a crucial double-jackal with Lowe that ultimately saw Ireland go from defending their line to being camped out on the Scottish line. Called on to take on lineout throwing, which was a big ask, even for the World Playe of the Year. He took to it like a proverbial duck to water.
8 Caelan Doris – NA
An unbelievable AFL-esque catch from Doris off a botched Scotland lineout looked to have set up an early try for Ireland before Luke Pearce ruled it illegal and he appeared to injure himself in the process.
16 Ronan Kelleher – 6
On early in tense circumstances and played a part in a number of Ireland lineout system failures. The context was that he had suffered some kind of injury and he duly left 9 minutes into the second-half, having bravely tried to stay on for the guts of 30 minutes.
17 Cian Healy – 8.5
Did a remarkable impression of a Test level hooker, which is pretty freakish from the veteran loosehead who hadn’t played at No.2 since his school days. Ireland’s scrum improved with Healy at No.2.
18 Tom O’Toole – 7
Another really solid outing in the bank from the Droghead native.
19 Ryan Baird – 7
Brimming with enthusiasm on early for Henderson. His freakish athletic ability is well known and it was an opportunity to gain experience in a full-blooded Test match.
20 Jack Conan – 8
A slow start after coming on very early and but played his way into game. Took his opportunity in the 61st second by swatting aside Duhan van der Merwe to score a try that took the wind out of Scotland.
21 Jamison Gibson-Park – 8
As already mentioned, Ireland looked like
22 Ross Byrne – 7.5
Ireland needed a steady hand at the tiler and Byrne steered his team home with little fuss.
23 Robbie Henshaw – NA