England 15 Ireland 24: Ireland player ratings

Gavin Cummiskey hands out the marks for Joe Schmidt’s Grand Slam heroes

Ireland fullback  Rob Kearney gets up to challenge his England counterpart  Anthony Watson leading to the opening try of the Six Nations game at Twickenham. Photograph:  Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney gets up to challenge his England counterpart Anthony Watson leading to the opening try of the Six Nations game at Twickenham. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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Rob Kearney
Broke even with Anthony Watson to create the Ringrose try. Superb defence – a guaranteed Watson try on 24 minutes was denied by the intervention of Ireland’s greatest ever fullback. Rating: 8

Keith Earls
Bad injury possibly ends a fantastic season. Watson should have had two tries before being forced off injured but another clean tackle, this time by Earls, stemmed the English tide, forcing them into a full six minutes in Ireland’s 22 until the first try. Rating: 8

Garry Ringrose
What a try (appearing from the Celtic mist) and a heroic, crazy strip of the ball from George Kruis’s grasp never happens (a centre unburdening a lock). A relentless performer who deserves many more Twickenham visits. Rating: 9

Bundee Aki
Sparked out cold while tackling Jonathan Joseph on 54 minutes. Earlier head bash with Elliot Daly was deemed an England penalty – the locals were baying for a card – and made the thrilling line break, and stayed calm, to pinball CJ Stander towards the try line. Rating: 7

Jacob Stockdale
Stay alive, Jacob knew to stay alive alive oh. The rookie who smashes records – seven tries! – chipped Mike Brown, instinctively knowing not to touch the ball as Jonny May grabbed him, before the composure of a predator completed a try that will live alongside Shane Horgan’s 2006 stretch. Rating: 7

Johnny Sexton
“I don’t need to come off,” the inspirational Sexton told referee Angus Gardner on 28 minutes after following up the lineout steal by Conor Murray (yes, Murray stole a Dylan Hartley throw near the Irish try line). Five minutes later the medics intervened but he passed the concussion examine to return as his bravery saw him run over by Ben Te’o. He played on for another 23 minutes but Murray kicked the last penalty. Rating: 7

Conor Murray
The only way to stop Ireland is to remove their scrumhalf. Chris Robshaw, in desperation, went for him – twice the England flanker made contact after box kicks, prompting memories of Glasgow antics last year. “He has no chance of tackling me,” Murray complained to officials before playing hurt yet clever to the end. Rating: 8

Cian Healy
Act two. The real Healy achievement is to regain and keep the jersey off Jack McGrath even as the Lions loosehead came on strong as the tournament rolled towards this momentous day. Part of a rock-solid scrum, eight tackles, menacing. Rating: 7

Rory Best
Two Grand Slams, four Six Nations, beat the All Blacks, beat the Springboks in South Africa – the most decorated Ireland captain ever should be allowed condition his 35-year-old body to last 19 more months. New national contract imminent. Rating: 7

Ireland tighthead and mana of the match Tadhg Furlong on the charge during the Six Nations match against England at Twickenham. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Ireland tighthead and mana of the match Tadhg Furlong on the charge during the Six Nations match against England at Twickenham. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Tadhg Furlong
Fourteen hits, 12 rumbles and an outhalf’s touch to put Bundee Aki into the open for CJ Stander’s try. The man of the match, the Campile king, a legend in his own skin at just 25, the road ahead is unknown but anything is possible when he holds the Ireland scrum. Rating: 9

James Ryan
This 80-minute Test lock – all of a sudden – had several solo carries into English bulls that allowed Murray to reinvent the assault. Added 13 tackles to confirm the arrival of a world-class performer. Rating: 8

Iain Henderson
Huge numbers – 15 tackles only topped by Leavy – supported the decision to drop Devin Toner but it was the Ulster man’s raw aggression, unmatched by any English man, that makes his contribution so memorable. Rating: 8

Peter O’Mahony
Forced off with suspected concussion, by Nigel Owens’s intervention and insistence that he be removed on 73 minutes, the Munster captain’s single figure statistics are way off the other loose forwards but he fills the quietly efficient Jamie Heaslip duties to allow others cause havoc. Battered at the end. Rating: 7

Dan Leavy
Sixteen tackles, 11 carries for 22 metres, simply immense. Robshaw kept showing up at the breakdown but James Haskell couldn’t live with Leavy. Unlimited potential and the undisputed Irish openside even when Seán O’Brien and Josh van der Flier regain fitness. Rating: 9

CJ Stander
Astronomical numbers – 23 carries for 41 metres and 11 tackles – puts him firmly on course to be named world player of the year, never mind Ireland’s best and certainly the most consistent performer throughout the Six Nations. What madness by the Springboks (saying he was too small for backrow and should switch to hooker!) Rating: 9

Bench
Seán Cronin’s try-saving tackle on Mike Brown among other cameos – like Andrew Porter’s physicality, Jordan Larmour almost breaking free and Joey Carbery’s poise – was enough to hold off the late English surge. Rating: 7

Coach
The Stander try was conjured straight from the Joe Schmidt playbook. The ultimate strategist, only one more trophy eludes him on a nine-year odyssey through Irish rugby. Rating: 9

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