South Africa 32 Ireland 26: Player ratings

Ireland denied series win at Ellis Park as South Africa power play in final quarter snatches victory

 

15 Jared Payne

Serene for an hour, proving once again that he must remain as the Ireland fullback, but like many backs became irrelevant as Springbok power turned the test match into a frighteningly confrontational affair. Rating: 7

14 Andrew Trimble

Watch Devin Toner’s try. It was his cleaning out of Pieter Steph du Toit that brilliantly delivered quick ball. The Trimble flick seconds earlier, through the hapless legs of Lwazi Mvovo, deserves to be immortalised in a winning test series. Rating: 8

13 Robbie Henshaw

One of the ball rippers who put himself into dangerous areas that guaranteed enormous punishment. Split open and looks to have badly damaged his knee. Delivers irreplaceable power and attitude. Rating: 7

12 Stuart Olding

Matched Springbok power on the gainline in the opening half and while he has always looked comfortable at this level, like everyone else, could not make an impact in the attritional finale. Injury elsewhere could see him retained. Rating: 7

11 Craig Gilroy

Showed intent to make up for lost time, having been at best a fringe player in previous Joe Schmidt squads, but his ability going forward suggests future investment to improve his defence and positioning. Rating: 6

10 Paddy Jackson

Isolated and exposed defensively (much like Ronan O’Gara in 2009). The series could be over if he had not missed two from six shots at goal. Jackson becomes a live threat to Johnny Sexton if he can get over the 80 per cent conversion rate. If not, it’s back to the bench. Rating: 6

9 Conor Murray

Like Henshaw, took heavy, worrying punishment. Sweeps behind the defensive line so once the big Bok carriers poured through he was directly in their line of fire. Damien de Allende ran over him for killer try. Superb in the first half. Rating: 7

1 Jack McGrath

Out played all other frontrowers, seeing off Springbok tight head Frans Malherbe, so the hope is he somehow finds the resolve for one more shift, because without him Ireland cannot win this series. Rating: 7

2 Rory Best

A harsh rating considering how brilliant, belligerent and magnificent a captain’s performance we witnessed. He can expect a call from Paul O’Connell. They have much to discuss in the coming days. Rating: 7

3 Tadhg Furlong

Offers more in open play than Mike Ross. If this 23-year-old reaches the same consistent scrummaging standards set by his eventual predecessor, and somehow stays healthy, he will become a world class tightead. Rating: 7

4 Quinn Roux

Gets a huge credit for walking over a few Bok scrums. Cock-a-hoop strides past Etzebeth after overpowering the younger lock, who passed him by in the Western Province pecking order. But long gone by the end. Rating: 6

5 Devin Toner

Lost crucial lineout to Eben Etzebeth in the 74th minute. Still, the growth of Toner has been remarkable, both physically and as a raw talent Leinster invested years of individual focus to build into a serious test lock. Rating: 7

6 Iain Henderson

Along with Furlong and Kieran Marmion, already knew all about beating South Africa on their own soil, following the 2012 under-20s World Cup surprise. That was a warning about the latest Ulster colossus in the Ireland pack. Rating: 7

7 Rhys Ruddock

Immense in contact. Out muscled Siya Kolisi to make the sort of impact that could finally see him become a permanent starter in the Ireland backrow. Only 25, having been first capped at 19, here come the great years. Rating: 8

8 Jamie Heaslip

So many reasons to praise his stunning performance, but the 60th minute try shows a clever rugby player at work. Threw a dummy pass in a rolling maul to squeeze over himself and even made sure the touch judge was up to speed on the legality of his action. Rating: 8

Bench

Ultimately where Ireland lost this game. Two Springbok subs - Ruan Combrink and Warren Whiteley - bludgeoned their way over for game changing tries. Rating: 5

Coach

Joe Schmidt in a tactical duel with Allister Coetzee? Not even a contest. Power, brutality and fear of failure prevailed in this test match. Not coaching. Rating: 7

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