Ireland 9 New Zealand 21: Ireland player ratings

Gavin Cummiskey gives his verdict on individual performances of Joe Schmidt’s side

Rob Kearney (Leinster) 6

Needed a head injury assessment afterwards. The lack of offloading in crucial, albeit highly demanding, scenarios cost Ireland points. A harsh assessment because he made some battering carries along with the usual aerial excellence.

Andrew Trimble (Ulster) 6

Defensively unbreakable, case in point being the removal of Julian Savea, but his lack of pace means the rare occasions Ireland needed a strike runner on the right wing the New Zealand defence was able to shut him down.

Jared Payne (Ulster) 6

Take him out of the equation and Ireland are under the posts at least twice more. Ben Smith glided inside and outside him on separate occasions but nobody can fully contain the exceptional kiwi fullback - a position we might see Payne revert to for Australia.

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster) 7

Not on long enough to rate so the rating belongs to Garry Ringrose's 18 carries, playing out of position yet making impressive defensive reads before sheer class allowed him cut through New Zealand's defence on 44 minutes. Inching ever closer to the starting XV.

Simon Zebo (Munster) 6

Went off injured on 72 minutes so Kieran Marmion finished on the wing but not before denying New Zealand a certain try with a cracking recovery tackle after Israel Dagg tore away from Paddy Jackson.

Johnny Sexton (Leinster) 5

For Ireland to lose their tactical maestro after just 16 minutes damaged the cause beyond repair. Seemed to deny Beauden Barrett a try but the TMO disagreed.

Conor Murray (Munster) 7

Nobody expected a repeat of the stunning Chicago performance - that remains in splendid isolation forever - and he was beaten on the outside by Barrett for the 30th minute try.

Jack McGrath (Leinster) 8

Cian Healy is applying heavy pressure to reclaim the one jersey at Leinster and Ireland but McGrath flatly refuses to return to understudy duties. Acted as a powerful enforcer at one ruck when Liam Squire was being a nuisance.

Rory Best (Ulster, captain) 8

Ireland’s mother hen. Great captains communicate to referees at key moments and Best’s subtle words into Jaco Peyper’s ear ensured Aaron Smith’s sin binning but the South African behaved like a stubborn teacher dealing with a child when the Armagh man sought a TMO for the second Fekitoa try.

Tadgh Furlong (Leinster) 8

Campile town elders may one day have to commission a ten foot marble statue of their hardest son. Off the chart statistics - 10 carries and one beautiful turnover, remarkable considering all the other heavy lifting at scrums and rucks.

Donnacha Ryan (Munster) 6

A man who has climbed back from an atrocious foot injury to reclaim a place in the Ireland second row but if the young gazelles, Ultan Dillane and Iain Henderson, stay fit then Ryan may be squeezed out come Six Nations.

Devin Toner (Leinster) 8

20 years from now: Do you remember the time Devin Toner emptied that All Black at the Aviva stadium? A performance of true quality from the central beacon in Ireland’s set piece. 20 lineouts, gathered 18 of them.

CJ Stander (Munster) 5

A shame he was concussed after 22 minutes, from a questionably high shoulder by Israel Dagg, because he was simmering in the internal battle with O’Brien to become Ireland’s alpha male.

Sean O’Brien (Leinster) 9

Denied 10/10 by his knock on with the try line in sight. The midlands king was Ireland’s dominant player. 19 carries, at least three steals and carried like a truck for 80 minutes, into hulking tacklers, which is crazy considering the recent return from his latest serious injury.

Such repeated absences are why he isn’t being considered Ireland greatest ever player.

Jamie Heaslip (Leinster) 9

Immense. Remember the young Heaslip who burst onto the international scene in the 2009 Grand Slam winning and Lions tour season? Here he was again, armed with all the other necessary attributes, like offloading, to confirm beyond any doubt that he’s Ireland’s greatest ever number eight.

Replacements 8

Josh van der Flier's carries, including two brilliant line breaks, and tackling takes the majority of praise but Ringrose was class, Jackson was not without flaws but played well while Healy, Sean Cronin and Iain Henderson brought a late stampede.

Coach 7

A commendable game plan but this performance was more about the players, as several replacements were forced upon Joe Schmidt way before he would have wished.