France 13 Ireland 15: Ireland Player Ratings

Gavin Cummiskey hands out the marks after an extraordinary ending in Paris

Gerry Thornley and Gavin Cummiskey give their post-match reaction to Ireland's defeat of France in their opening game of the Six Nations Championships in Paris. Video: Gavin Cummiskey

 

Rob Kearney
For the knee-jerk prediction of his demise see James Ryan’s pop off the ground hitting Conor Murray’s arm and being hoofed towards the Irish try line by Rabah Slimani. Kearney calmly cleaned up. Dominant under high ball besides fumble on 58 minutes. Rating: 7

Keith Earls
Knock-on with five minutes to play gifted France valuable possession. Otherwise, with little room to manoeuvre, weaved out a yard or two every time he stepped off the right wing. Rating: 6

Robbie Henshaw
So solid defensively, shot out of the line to snuff out Virimi Vakatawa on 11 minutes, denying the Fijian the hint of space he craves. Garry Ringrose is a better attacking 13. Rating: 7

Bundee Aki runs over France outhalf Matthieu Jalibert. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Bundee Aki runs over France outhalf Matthieu Jalibert. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Bundee Aki
Broke the teenage Jalibert. Ireland’s best player in the opening 40 minutes, there are some guarantees from this Kiwi: he will shuffle over the gainline if given half-decent set piece and whoever runs at him will fall. Rating: 7

Jacob Stockdale
Missed tackle on Teddy Thomas that almost cost Ireland the game. Harsh assessment but life on the wing can be that cruel, especially in Paris. Rating: 5

Johnny Sexton
What courage to find Keith Earls with late crossfield kick. Forget his rare blind spot, that right-sided penalty nearer the touchline than uprights, resulting in a scuffed fifth penalty on 63 minutes. Had to win it another way. Maestro. Rating: 8

Conor Murray
Drew a penalty off the hair-brained Sebastien Vahaamahina (penalty machine) that allowed Sexton make it 9-3 but the usual attacking threat well figured out by French. Rating: 7

Cian Healy
A stern examination by Slimani in the scrum, he contributed to Nigel Owens’s decision to penalise the tighthead on 28 minutes. From the next play Aki ended Jalibert. Rating: 6

Rory Best
The captain won his 107th cap after 13 years in a green jersey, he would never have experienced a build-up like this to a Test match. One wayward throw but drilled deep until Seán Cronin relieved him. Rating: 6

Tadhg Furlong
Ball torn from arms by Jefferson Poirot on 50 minutes with Ireland in sight of the try line and while denied any serious yardage by bigger French men he kept showing up for the punishment. Rating: 6

Iain Henderson
Slow burn caught flame with a 45th minute turnover to allow Sexton punt Ireland deep into French territory. When he began carrying with menace Sexton made it 12-3. Huge late catch. Rating: 8

James Ryan
There is enough evidence that utter dominance is coming in 2019. Functioned well at the tail of lineouts and trucked up possession, breaching the gainline whenever Henderson et al were behind him. Rating: 7

Peter O’Mahony
Hunted behind Stander as the game entered those vicious final 15 minutes with both knowing the full 80 minute shift was necessary. A wonderful nuisance. Rating: 7

Josh van der Flier
Four minutes before half-time his season came to another grinding halt due to a leg injury caused in a collision. Had been proficient with Dan Leavy’s physicality a welcome alternative. Rating: 5

CJ Stander takes on Yacouba Camara and Guilhem Guirado during the Six Nations match in Paris. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
CJ Stander takes on Yacouba Camara and Guilhem Guirado during the Six Nations match in Paris. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

CJ Stander
Bash, bash, bash and then on 60 minutes, just after La Marseillaise had finished, the South African pounced on French ball to spark the Fields of Athenry. Another vital steal three minutes later. Relentless. Rating: 8

Bench
The bench is a problem now, proving way below the impact needed for a successful Six Nations campaign. Leavy coughed up a penalty on 53 minutes that allowed Maxime Machenaud make it 12-6 to keep the contest alive. Rating: 5

Coach
Testing week. Sexton did much of the slow, methodical coaching as Ireland aimed to patiently pick apart this poor French offering. When that didn’t work the outhalf tried something else. Rating: 6

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