Player Ratings: Scrappy but effective
OPINION: A lot of the pre-game chat was around Fiji coach Vern Cotter’s remarks that Ireland would treat the game like a training session and it looked like the opposite was the truth when the Fijians strolled over the try line after just two minutes.
However the it was shortlived as Ireland took control, recording a 35-17 win over Fiji.
Ian Cameron rates the Ireland players!
15. Jimmy O’Brien – 5
An okayish performance from O’Brien, who rightly received rave reviews last week. Has become a useful utility man for Ireland. Would have liked to see the former Sevens player open up in attack but Ireland were hung up on mauling Fiji to death.
14. Robert Baloucoune – 6
Didn’t quite get to open up but was wickedly difficult to defend all afternoon. Took his try well and was the best of Ireland’s starting back three.
13. Garry Ringrose – 7.5
Ireland’s answer to Conrad Smith came on for Henshaw with just a handful of minutes on the clock and looked dangerous from the off. The Rolls Royce of the Ireland midfield has the net effect of making everyone around him look better. How he wasn’t a Lion in 2021 remains baffling.
12. Stuart McCloskey – 6
Asked to do a lot of distribution work here, the big centre did a solid job in popping balls off to colleagues, with his physical presence demanding Fijian defenders couldn’t drift off him.
11. Mack Hansen – 5
Caught an early crossfield and showed good awareness to stay in touch. Busy throughout chasing kicks and looking for work. A 31st fumble cost a near-certain 5-pointer and there were more to follow. Took an easy try in the 60th minute but this was a skittish performance from the Connacht wing.
10. Joey Carbery – 6
A decent outing for Carbery, even if Ireland’s forward dominance meant he was on the front foot. He took a battering from the same side in 2017 and avoided the rough stuff here until the 45th minute, when he got caught with an ugly shot to the head from Albert Tuisue. Didn’t return.
9. Jamieson Gibson-Park – 6
Was easily rounded on the edge for Fiji’s first try but was pretty efficient after that. His looping pass for Balacoune’s first-half try was ruthless.
1. Jeremy Loughman – 6
Has been in fine form for Munster of late and got through a decent shift here to earn his first cap. Sterner tests await but he got the job done here.
2. Rob Herring – 6
Solid darts from the Ulsterman and has become a consistent third choice for Andy Farrell at hooker.
3. Tadhg Furlong – 6
The first-time skipper was kept busy, with a lovely offload on the way to Balacoune’s 25th-minute try standing out. Managed referee Matthieu Raynal well, letting the Fijians dig themselves into a hole.
4. Kieran Treadwell – 7
Carried powerfully and was unlucky not to have been awarded his second international try. Could yet become part of the Ireland second-row conversation.
5. Tadhg Beirne – 5
Shuttled into touch with his first carry but got into it after that. Pretty workmanlike day at the office for the Munsterman, even with the Fijians not particularly interested in the breakdown.
6. Caelan Doris – 5
A skilful back row in the Jamie Heaslip mould, his footwork and athleticism nearly always leading to a half-break when he carries. Nothing too fancy here mind.
7. Nick Timoney – 8
Lucky to get away with an awkward collision with Levani Botia. Barged over for his second Test try after 14 minutes and his third [second of the game] came in the 20th minute. Was Ireland’s best forward today.
8. Jack Conan – 5
Brought some reliable go-forward for a sleepy Ireland team which are times looked a little stagnant. Still waiting to see Lions tour Conan, who was by some distance the best back row on tour.
REPLACEMENTS – 5
The match descended into an out-and-out borefest in the second half and – with the exception of Jack Crowley – none of Ireland’s reinforcements did much to assuage the situation. In some positions Ireland have a lot of depth to call upon, in others there’s daylight between first and second choice.