Simon Zebo 7
Largely untested in the art of fullback positioning but definitely the real deal. Rob Kearneys return ensures a serious debate must commence about the number 11 jersey – Gilroy, Zebo or Earls?
Tommy Bowe 7
Reacted to the explosion of youth by scoring two tries to reaffirm his undoubted value. Gilroy’s arrival could force Mark Anscombe into making a centre or fullback out of him yet.Keith Earls 7
Defence not really tested. Problem now is Casey Laulala and Brian O’Driscoll will ensure he returns to the wing. Shame because he is an improving 13.
Gordon D’Arcy 7When the contest still mattered, straightened up and possessed the calmness to look and find Sexton on the inside for the second try. Still worth the investment.
Craig Gilroy 7
Great feet, thrilling pace that made the grown-ups hark back to Simon Geoghegan’s impact in the 1990s. He even kicks like him, but otherwise excellent.
Jonathan Sexton 8
Produced the complete package in general play but only gets an eight for missing three kicks at goal. Still, quick to realise the Pumas were off -colour and ruthlessly secured the victory.
Conor Murray 7
Concerns about his slackness off the deck more than compensated by physique and willingness to bring speedsters into play at crucial moments.
Cian Healy 7
Bustos focused the mind and his due diligence meant he was more workmanlike than the marauding colossus we’ve grown accustomed to. Best possible compliment was the sin-binning.
Richardt Strauss 7
With no Springboks attempting to target him, he could bend his back over grounded opponents and challenge Henry’s status as the primary fetcher. Genuine challenge to Rory Best.
Mike Ross 6
Still the anchor. The man needs game time to warm up, his coach informed us, and remains the pre-eminent Irish tighthead despite the arrival of Taranaki’s finest.
Mike McCarthy 7
Less prevalent this week but has become a comforting stop gap as everyone awaits good news on Paul O’Connell, who will never be properly replaced by Munster or Ireland.Donnacha Ryan 8
Finally established. The development of this man from junior hurler to Test-match lineout controller has been enjoyable to witness.Peter O’Mahony 7
He’ll always cough up a penalty or two but, like Denis Leamy before him, will also ensure the opposition target him for being a nuisance, to the benefit of others.Chris Henry 6
A converted number seven, you notice his absence, which is the best possible compliment, but will be probably shunted to the bench come Seán O’Brien’s return for the Six Nations.Jamie Heaslip (capt) 7
With the established Irish leaders injured and Sam Warburton struggling, his candidacy to captain the Lions is suddenly gathering pace. Never drops high standards.Replacements 6
Not relevant as the game was cooked by 32 minutes so the emptying of the bench arguably contributed to the dip in intensity.