Wales 21 Ireland 16: How the Irish players rated

John O’Sullivan hands out the marks after Ireland’s latest defeat in Cardiff

15 Hugo Keenan

Read the game brilliantly, making a couple of try saving interventions, and was one of the few Irish players who made significant metres with every carry in a high calibre performance. Rating: 8

14 Keith Earls

A couple of knocks-on under high balls and gave away a cheap penalty for taking Gareth Davies in the air but didn't get a pass of note before being replaced on 62 minutes. Rating: 5

13 Garry Ringrose

He tried a risky offload that eventually culminated in a try for George North but one of the few Irish players whose footwork caused problems for Wales and took responsibility to get on the ball. Rating: 6

12 Robbie Henshaw

A stunning performance on both sides of the ball, expended every ounce physically, carried superbly tackled with aggression despite being battered and bruised. He can be very proud. Rating: 8


11 James Lowe

His howitzer like clearance kicks were first-rate and he made metres with most of his carries. He had a couple of decisions to make for the Welsh tries and might make different ones if given the time again, albeit outnumbered. It was a good performance when factoring in the layoff. Rating: 6

10 Johnny Sexton

Not as sharp in game management in a match in which Ireland had 61 per cent possession and eight turnovers to play with. All facets of his kicking lacked their customary accuracy and he played a little too deep initially but gradually got flatter and this had a knock-on effect on improved back play. Rating: 5

9 Conor Murray

His kicks drifted a few metres past ideal, he tested the fringe defence with a couple of breaks and worked hard to get to rucks and close down space in defence. A silly penalty. Rating: 5

1 Cian Healy

A superb clearout for Ireland's first try, one or two early carries but slipped off three tackles. The scrum, considering the pack was a man down, was excellent. Rating: 5

2 Rob Herring

No one could fault his industry, making his fair share of tackles and carries and the Irish lineout functioned with reasonable success but Ronan Kelleher's impact in carrying terms was obvious. Rating: 5

3 Andrew Porter

An outstanding 53 minutes, his power and leg drive in contact was exceptional making metres against every expectation given the weight of tacklers while also helping to lock down a scrum with a little help from Henshaw. Rating: 7

4 Tadhg Beirne

A try, turnovers, tackles, carries while penalised incorrectly by Wayne Barnes that gave Wales 21-13 lead, this was a brilliant effort physically and in terms of quality. Rating: 8

5 James Ryan

A brilliant opening 24 minutes, two lineouts steals, some powerful carrying in heavy traffic until his afternoon was cut short after failing a Head Injury Assessment (HIA); a huge loss at the time. Rating: 7

6 Peter O’Mahony

A nailed on red card after 14 minutes, shoulder to the head, reckless and dangerous with no mitigation and he was fortunate that Tom Francis didn't suffer an injury. Rating: 2

7 Josh van der Flier

A voracious work-rate in every facet of the game to try and make up for being a man down until he was replaced on 60 minutes: some eye-catching interventions on both sides of the ball. Rating: 6

8 CJ Stander

He epitomised the spirit and character shown by the pack, took on a huge workload in leading by example and won some big collisions. Rating: 7


Iain Henderson coped and lasted superbly, while Tadhg Furlong demonstrated his enduring quality on his comeback after a year. The rest of the forwards added energy and dynamism in the fraught end game, so too Jamison Gibson Park and Jordan Larmour. Billy Burns saw a couple of kicks backfire. Rating: 7

Head coach

There is very little that a coach can do when his team goes a player down so early. Andy Farrell will be frustrated that the game was eminently winnable right up to the final whistle. The wear and tear physically and mentally cost Ireland dearly at times, particularly for the two Welsh tries but he will be pleased with the character the team showed. He needs to make some tough decisions ahead of next Sunday's game against France. Rating: 6

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer