THREE FROM THREE for terrific Ireland.
FT: Ireland 26-23 Australia
Jack McGrath: 6
Wasn’t as effectual tonight as in the South African game. Took on ball but was quiet and packed down in a pressurized scrum.
On his return from injury, Best was ever presence at the breakdown but lineouts were poorly executed. Perhaps his selection over Sean Cronin wasn’t justified but he had solid outing overall.
Mike Ross: 6
Ross isn’t getting any extra points for playing 80 minutes. Put in a shift but was hot and cold scrummaging against James Slipper.
Devin Toner: 8
Big Dev was frantic at the breakdown, throwing his 6’10 frame into Aussie ball. Took lineout ball in typical fashion and is deserved of an eight.
Paul O’Connell: 9
One of his most heroic performances. Paulie came out of the blocks and carried a number of times in both halves. His leadership was incredible and took Best’s ball before rounding off the performance with a big hit when Ireland most needed it.
Peter O’Mahony: 7
Won an excellent technical turnover in the opening minutes, played his newly established smart game of slowing down opposition ball and played a modest role with rucking and tackling.
Rhys Ruddock: 6
One of many quiet selections. Really didn’t live up to his South Africa game and maybe Chris Henry will still be ahead of him in pecking order but he brings a physical edge.
Jamie Heaslip: 6
The stat machine was absent to our TV screens but made a high number of tackles and probably did some ‘hidden work’ that nobody can honestly say they saw. Nothing against Heaslip but it wasn’t a good day out for him.
Conor Murray: 7
Showed natural class and composure but on the flip-side he overcooked kicks and took a blow to the head which saw him momentarily called ashore.
Johnny Sexton: 8
Sexton was the architect of Simon Zebo’s early try. The Leinster-bound flyhalf also kicked all but one of his goals before being withdrawn with Conor Murray finishing the game at outhalf.
Gordon D’Arcy: 6
D’Arcy tried to put in a big performance but he just seems to have lost his touch and the game went passed him for long periods. Ian Madigan eventually replaced him with 20 minutes to go.
Robbie Henshaw: 8
Henshaw was once again very convincing. The Connacht youngster showed off his step, vision and tackling abilities agasint the World’s best running rugby team. His performance over-shined D’Arcy but it’s too early to start comparing to him O’Driscoll.
Simon Zebo: 7
The Munster star showed pace to score the game’s opening try and made a couple of great defensive reads on Kudidrani.
Frustrating but full of flair.
Tommy Bowe: 8
Bowe looks to be back to his best and his intercept try showed both his pace and intelligence. The Ulster winger was also stand out in defense.
Rob Kearney: 9
Fantastic night for Kearney in which he was the main man in taking aerial ball. The Leinster fullback also saw a long-range dropgoal hit the post and won the battle with Israel Folau.
Cronin 8: Improved the scrum and lineout
Ah You: Unused
Foley 7: Made a nuisance of himself in a short period.
Reddan: Not on long enough to rate
Madigan: Brought a faster attack but was light in the tackle.
Jones: Not on long enough to rate.