Ireland 56 Italy 19: Irish player ratings

Conor Murray stands out as Joe Schmidt’s team impress in comfortable win over Italy

Gerry Thornley and Liam Toland reflect on Ireland’s 56-19 win over Italy in the Six Nations, a victory that came at a cost with injuries to key players. Video: David Dunne

 

15 Rob Kearney

One knock-on aside he did pretty much everything that was required and will have been disappointed to be denied a certain try after referee Romain Poite got in the way. Rating: 7

14 Keith Earls

He was typically sharp in scoring his 26th try for his country, adding value every time he touched the ball in another excellent outing; saved a try too with a superb chase back to collar Bellini. Rating: 8

13 Robbie Henshaw

Suffered what looked like a dislocated shoulder in the act of scoring his second try of the game, a dreadful setback for his province and country as he’s been in brilliant form. Rating: 8

12 Bundee Aki

He recovered from a few misplaced passes to have a more positive influence and showed good strength in the tackle to score his first try for Ireland. Rating: 7

11 Jacob Stockdale

He’s such a strong player on the ball as he showed several times in fighting to stay on his feet through the tackle and in fending off defenders: a lovely in-and-out line for his second try. Rating: 8

10 Jonathan Sexton

Added Time: The Irish Times Sports Podcast - Episode 2

Kicked beautifully with the placed ball and pivotal again to everything Ireland tried in attack. Only the third time that the Irish 10-12-13 axis have played together and while there were a few rough edges, the outhalf smoothed them out and was at his imperious best thereafter. Rating: 8

9 Conor Murray

A superb pass for Henshaw’s first try and he was the master of all he surveyed mixing his game intelligently and invariably choosing the right option: won man-of-the-match and scored a try. Rating: 8

1 Jack McGrath

An early tackle saved if not a try then the real threat of a 50-metre breakout by the Italians. He carried, cleaned out and made a raft of tackles. Rating: 7

2 Rory Best (capt)

Ireland’s lineout was excellent as was the maul and having been hauled down short of the line once he did get his try second time around. He went for the jugular early on electing for lineouts and scrums from kickable penalties. Rating: 6

3 Tadhg Furlong

The second of two disasters from an injury perspective on the day, which looked like a hamstring injury, that saw him depart after just three minutes. Rating: Not applicable.

4 Iain Henderson

Huge work-rate on both sides of the ball there is a palpable intelligence he brings to everything he does on the pitch, one that marks him as an important player for Ireland. Rating: 7

5 Devin Toner

A couple of handling errors that will annoy him but he set the tone for the line speed, aggressive in trying to shut the Italians down while presided over another superb lineout effort. Rating: 6

6 Peter O’Mahony

He must have been a contender for the man of the match honours; lovely handling and good awareness while he displayed his typical tenacity at the breakdown and in the tackle. Rating: 8

7 Dan Leavy

An example of his influence was that he was centrally involved in the Aki and Earls tries, a brilliant clearout for the first and superb athleticism to chase down and secure a loose ball: an excellent display, the only thing that will annoy him is being gassed for one of the Italian tries. Rating: 8

8 Jack Conan

He was vying for the mantle of Ireland’s best player in the opening 40-minutes before his withdrawal presumably with an injury. He’s always had the carrying game but his lineout and tackling - led the way for his team up to the interval with six - were excellent as were his hands for Murray try. Rating: 7

Replacements: Andrew Porter had a brilliant game both in the tight and the loose, CJ Stander gave Ireland high quality, go-forward ball, Joey Carbery got to the pitch of the game from the get-go and while Jordan Larmour will be disappointed to be rounded for one of Italy’s tries but his footwork in the Italian 22 shortly shows his quality. Quinn Roux (excellent), Kieran Marmion and Sean Cronin can be pleased with their work while Cian Healy didn’t get too much time. Rating: 8

Coach: Joe Schmidt and his team identified the areas from last week that weren’t up to scratch, especially the lineout from which they got possession, position and tries. The midfield work got better as the match went on. He won’t get carried away aware that Italy didn’t threaten Ireland until the game was over and there are still elements of the performance that aren’t up to the standards he would demand. Rating: 7

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