Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Ireland v South Africa: How the players rated

Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney

Tommy Bowe - 7
Really wanted a piece of the action and made hay with his limited chances going forward. He also stepped up to the plate with some excellent defensive work

Brian O'Driscoll - 9
Produced two stand-out moments in another superb display; his amazing first half break through a thicket of green shirts and then, at the end, his nailing of Zane Kirchner when a try looked certain

Paddy Wallace -5
Needed a big game to keep D’Arcy at bay but a dropped first pass and then his departure with an ankle injury after only 23 minutes did him no favours

Keith Earls - 6
Lived off scraps and dropped his first pass in the second half but came on strongly thereafter with some lively running and a few vital tackles

Jonathan Sexton - 9
Looks good to stay for a while with a performance of great assurance and authority. Scored all Ireland's points with his goal kicking and his line kicking and work rate in defence were also top notch

Tomas O'Leary - 8
Toiled long and hard at the base and mixed his game well. One memorable blindside break spread panic in South Africa’s defence and more than matched opposite number Fourie du Preez

Cian Healy - 6
Given a master class in the art of scrummaging by BJ Botha as Ireland's set piece was taken apart in the first half. After Botha's departure the pressure eased and Healy showed some neat carries

Jerry Flannery - 7
Aggressive defending and showed up well in the loose. His darts were also largely on the money. Hardly took a backward step and was instrumental in the leading the Ireland fightback

John Hayes - 6
Again had to be culpable as Ireland's scrum imploded but he found his second wind as South Africa's superiority up front was blunted

Paul O'Connell - 9
Awesome. Set the template early with a great steal off Matfield and never looked back. He produced an inspirational performance with some immense work at the breakdown

Donncha O'Callaghan
Prodigious work rate in the tight and played leading role in targeting South Africa's lineout. Also popped up in the loose and even nearly scored

Stephen Ferris - 7
Another frustrating South African experience for the Ulsterman. Some big carries and hits but, as with Wallace, succumbed to an ankle injury and left at half time

David Wallace - 8
Showed he still has so much to offer. Great work rate in both attack and defence and pulled off one memorable tackle on Munster team mate Jean de Villiers

Jamie Heaslip - 8
Had his shirt torn asunder but did so much more damage to the Boks with some ultra-physical hits and runs. Coped well when scrum was under pressure in the first half

Gordon D'Arcy - 7
(For Paddy Wallace 23mins): Great impact and looked stronger as game wore on

Sean O'Brien (centre) - 7
(For Stephen Ferris (half time) Another who made his presence felt and delivered one memorable wrap-up on Danie Roussouw

How the Irish players performed against Australia on Saturday evening

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