Ireland 16 New Zealand 9: Ireland player ratings
Gavin Cummiskey runs the rule over Joe Schmidt’s green shirted history-makers
The Ireland team huddle after the All Blacks performed the Haka prior to the Guinness Series Test match at the Aviva stadium. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
15 Rob Kearney
The Boss. Vital intercept of Beauden Barrett offload on 64 minutes. Catch on 52 minutes was pure Kearney, pick-pocketing of Damian McKenzie a minute later was just insanely skillful. Solid and dangerous in equal measure. One handling error when he forced an offload but that aside the fullback gifts he has attained over a long and storied innings kept Ireland intact. Lucky to avoid yellow card for 56th minute collision with Rieko Ioane. Rating: 9.
14 Keith Earls
Danced at them with the full array of his unpredictable footwork allied by an ankle grasping tackle on Damian McKenzie. Damaged himself in the late defensive madness but it was his cleverness that Ireland cannot do without. Deserves these days more than most. Rating: 8.
13 Garry Ringrose
Defensive linchpin. Multiple contributions to prove, once and for all surely, that nobody else can do what he does in the position. Just see the dart cross field to fell Liam Squire on 28 minutes. His intensity in the last 10 minutes was simply jaw-dropping. Rating: 9.
12 Bundee Aki
Connemara’s finest son. The switch pass for Stockdale’s try proved his world class ability. Where’s Ryan Crotty? Kept looking to pulverise the black 12 but equally did the heavy midfield stuff Ireland needed to gain a foothold in both attack and defence. Rating: 8.
11 Jacob Stockdale
The king of tries. His 48th minute finish will never be forgotten. Almost cost Ireland the game with the blocked chip by Kieran Read. Fortune favours the brave. Has added grit to his arsenal, snatching important balls from the sky, fumbling one, but charging at the last defender, making the All Blacks fear him rather than the other way it used to be for Irish wingers. New era, new superstar. Rating: 9.
10 Johnny Sexton
Belted Ben Smith into touch on 73 minutes, Christ that was some sight. Crazily led the defensive line, far too many times for comfort, and tapped over the easy goals while waiting patiently to reveal the Aki/Stockdale trick. Rating: 9.
9 Kieran Marmion
Try saving 57th minute tackle on Rieko Ioane. Clearly playing at full capacity, the lack of quality in his kicking put Ireland under defensive and territorial pressure but that’s comparing him to Conor Murray and that’s unfair. Rating: 7.
1 Cian Healy
The roar he got leaving the field on 51 minutes was fitting. Gets credit for beasting the New Zealand scrum and put in a typically physical shift thumping in behind Stander and Ryan. Hurt Read in contact. Rare. Rating: 8.
2 Rory Best
Overthrew lineout on 51 minutes when Ireland had New Zealand in all sorts of trouble. Also contributed to the opposition’s first half points when dispossessed on 15 minutes, resulting in a loss of 70 metres, and “never back on feet,” said referee Wayne Barnes, before Barrett’s advantage-prompted drop goal sailed over. Still, invaluable communication with Barnes. Rating: 7.
3 Tadhg Furlong
Unofficially the best tighthead in the world. Devoured Karl Tu’inukuafe in the scrum and climbed through a phenomenal amount of work. Carried like an elephant escaped from the circus. Rating: 9.
4 Devin Toner
Badly missed after standing ovation on 61 minutes but this is Devin Toner’s signature game. Certainly, that early collision with Brodie Retallick, assisted by Ryan, is a moment for the ages. That set the tone. Tadhg Beirne can wait after the essential lineout work, especially as a decoy, made the All Blacks doubt themselves. Rating: 8.
5 James Ryan
One year ago he chided the media for comparing him to Paul O’Connell. Still a bit to travel in that regard but he’s already better than the great Munster leader in terms of carries, footwork and the ability to play out of contact. In this regard he’s better than almost every man who has ever worn the green jersey. Rating: 9.
6 Peter O’Mahony
All hail the Cork hurricane. Night ended with a steal on 63 minutes that saved his country. The Fields reverberated around for him alone. Ridiculous grab of Barrett’s grubber on 60 minutes denied a gift-wrapped try for Ben Smith. Huge turnover on 46 minutes signalled the start of Ireland’s march past the world champions. Rating: 10.
7 Josh van der Flier
Superb performance that shows he can very easily become the resident openside. Actually, he just nailed the jersey down with the way he relentlessly hunted ball carriers in desperate search of open grass. Herculean. Rating: 9.
8 CJ Stander
Holy smokes. What were the Springboks thinking when letting him leave South Africa? Utter world class number eight as the All Blacks now know forever. Unbreakable. His opening 40 minutes were astounding to witness. Rating: 9.
Peter O’Mahony and Rob Kearney were forced off in ribbons so others needed to show up. Luke McGrath’s arrival on 58 minutes seemed timely and proved important – see hanging box kick on 75 minutes and a rash of tackles. Seán Cronin had an important throw stolen by Whitlelock but Toner’s departure was the problem. Henderson’s 72nd minute tackle on Read was huge. Rating: 7.
The Sexton to Aki to Stockdale switch play gets Joe Schmidt the All Blacks job tomorrow. Gift wrapped mystery: what did the piece of paper Steve Hansen handed over before kick-off say? Rating: 9.