Ireland 31 Scotland 16: How the Irish players rated

Gavin Cummiskey hands out the marks after Andy Farrell’s side end the year with a win

Ireland’s Caelan Doris is tackled by Scotland’s Jaco Van Der Walt during the Autumn Nations Cup third-place playoff against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Brian Lawless/Getty/AFP

Ireland’s Caelan Doris is tackled by Scotland’s Jaco Van Der Walt during the Autumn Nations Cup third-place playoff against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Brian Lawless/Getty/AFP

 

15 Jacob Stockdale

Not yet reliable under high balls (at least he is better than the wobbly Stuart Hogg). Needs to show something special for Ulster in the coming weeks to remind everyone why we got so excited in 2018. Otherwise the Lions tour of South Africa will pass him by. Rating: 6

14 Hugo Keenan

Tap tackle on Duhan van der Merwe was one of the multiple fires he extinguished with an infectious defensive energy that fuels the entire group. That’s right, the rookie wing is already inspiring veterans like Peter O’Mahony and Cian Healy to do more. Rating: 7

Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Fraser Brown and Dy Graham of Scotland. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Fraser Brown and Dy Graham of Scotland. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

13 Robbie Henshaw

Emptied anyone foolish enough to probe the Ireland midfield but the wily Scots kept seeking the man standing beside him. One brilliant catch and another towering breaking of ball, Gaelic-style, created Earls’s first try. Rating: 8

12 Bundee Aki

Kept providing gainline possession. Attempts at creativity are encouraging but he is not the answer to the second player maker conundrum. Rating: 7

11 Keith Earls

Like buses, the 11 game drought ended with two tries. Literally living off scraps, snatched his first off Henshaw’s acrobatic leap to move into second place behind Brian O’Driscoll on the all time try scoring list. Rating: 8

Keith Earls dives to score one of his brace of tries against Scotland. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Keith Earls dives to score one of his brace of tries against Scotland. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

10 Johnny Sexton

The only pressure on him during an injury stalled Autumn came from Harry Byrne and Ben Healy in the Pro14. Survived the early Scottish bumps and dunts before slowly leaving the field on 64 minutes with Ireland cruising at 25-16. Bad news for Leinster but good news for the Byrne brothers. Rating: 7

9 Conor Murray

Heaped the pressure on Scotland’s back field with hanging box kicks alongside the usual, calming impact on the team but you always want more from the Lions incumbent. Rating: 7

1 Cian Healy

Old fashioned prop’s try on cap 104. Poor hands early on and penalised at the scrum that allowed Scotland go 6-0 ahead but he remains Ireland’s supreme loosehead. Rating: 7

2 Rob Herring

Missed the tackle on Duhan van der Merwe for Scotland’s try. Also missed Henderson with important lineout throw on 16 minutes inside the Irish 22. Still, Ronán Kelleher was unable to dislodge the South African hooker in 2020. Rating: 6

3 Andrew Porter

This 76 minute shift felt almost irresponsible. Phenomenal international window considering how dependent Ireland have become on the young prop in a worryingly similar situation to the tighthead residencies of John Hayes and Mike Ross. Leinster will pay the price for this over exposure. Rating: 7

4 Iain Henderson

Ulster’s worst nightmare: injured his right knee before half-time. Until then brought a nastiness that this pack needs. Harshly penalised for ripping ball that led to van der Walt making it 9-3. Lovely soft hands put Doris charging into Scottish 22. Rating: 6

5 James Ryan

Injured. Turned over from one lone carry but he made sure that numerous teammates were not isolated in contact. Like Porter, deserves a winter holiday in the sun. No rest for the 24-year-olds as Leinster travel to the south of France to face a gargantuan Montpellier pack. Rating: 6

Peter O’Mahony dives to score a disallowed try against Scotland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Peter O’Mahony dives to score a disallowed try against Scotland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

6 CJ Stander

South Africa saw a hooker, Munster signed a number eight but, finally, this ideally sized blindside can focus on hurting people with the head down carries interspersed with neat passing. Rating: 7

7 Peter O’Mahony

Fantastic performance and cruelly denied a late try. Forced his way into the team at openside and is showing no signs of giving up the position, especially with contract negotiations postponed until the New Year. Pay the leader his worth. Rating: 8

8 Caelan Doris

With only seven caps to his name Doris is already Ireland’s most important ball carrier. Relishes the contact but imagine a game plan that put him into space? Departed injured but returned when Ryan went down. Immense. Rating: 8

Replacements

Josh van der Flier thundered into the fray only to be immediately turned over by Fraser Brown. Eric O’Sullivan won a scrum penalty and made a few memorable rumbles on debut. Rating: 6

Coach

As IRFU performance director David Nucifora stated this week, the first year of Andy Farrell’s tenure as Ireland coach has been “average.” The Wigan bruiser was never been described as such before and one imagines the description of his team, by his boss, rankles to the core of his being. Rating: 6

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