Player ratings: Standing tall
Sun, 24 Nov 2013 16:45
The fairytale was re-scripted at the last second
Ireland may be heartbroken at going down in such a cruel way, but they can be proud of their performance in Dublin on Sunday.
It would have been a famous victory over New Zealand, as much for the way they bounced back from their uninspired performance against the Wallabies last week as anything else.
They came out firing and took the game away from the All Blacks, who were forced to claw their way back and clinch victory with the last dramatic movement.
The Irish had made things seriously difficult for them, hurling themselves at the world champions in a highly committed display, but the fairytale was re-scripted at the last second.
We rate the Ireland players:
15 Rob Kearney
A fluent display from the fullback who looked assured under the high ball and was not caught out of position. He beat a few tackles and showed a clean pair of heels to score his try.
14 Tommy Bowe
Chased hard and was good under the high ball, but got bounced by Julian Savea in an otherwise solid game.
13 Brian O'Driscoll
A mixed bag from the veteran who was impressive on defence, competed well for the ball and made some crucial tackles but lacked spark on attack.
12 Gordon D'Arcy
Linked well with some slick handling and put in a good shift on defence but did not really get his team going forward to often.
11 David Kearney
Looked for work and made a few breaks which showed he can be dangerous in space. He was good under the high ball and tackled hard.
10 Jonathan Sexton
Mixed it up well, with his tactical kicking superb as he looked for space behind the All Blacks defence. Lost the ball in contact a few times but generally safe.
9 Conor Murray
Provided snappy service and took his try well. Kicked well from the base and provided a threat around the fringes.
8 Jamie Heaslip
Got his team on front foot and held the ball up in the tackle, a threat at the breakdown but he was blown up a few times and also slipped off a few tackles.
7 Sean O'Brien
An outstanding performance, he was an all-round threat as he made good ground with the ball and used his physicality to good effect in the contact area. His tackling was superb and he was a big threat at the breakdown.
6 Peter O'Mahony
Worked hard and got in the All Blacks' faces on attack and defence. Got around the park well and was valuable in the tight exchanges as well.
5 Paul O'Connell
Very reliable in the line-outs and just as powerful in the loose. He helped set the tone up front as the Irish claimed the upper hand.
4 Devin Toner
Hands let him down a few times and he was blown up for blocking, but stole a few line-outs and used his massive frame to good effect.
3 Mike Ross
Got involved in open play, making some tackles and even busting a few and he was solid in the scrums against Wyatt Crockett.
2 Rory Best
Posed a threat at the breakdown, and showed good awareness and power to score his try but got taken off soon afterwards.
1 Cian Healy
A big game from the big prop who got dominance in the scrums and got through a massive amount of work in the loose. He made a few powerful runs and took an elbow to the head from Beauden Barrett which ended his involvement.
16 Sean Cronin (On for Best, 17 mins)
Got over the gainline well but his line-out throwing was erratic and also threw a forward pass.
17 Jack McGrath (On for Healy, 69 mins)
Stood up well at scrum-time, but did not make much impact in open play.
18 Declan Fitzpatrick
19 Mike McCarthy (On for Toner, 65 mins)
Worked hard on defence and injected some physicality.
20 Kevin McLaughlin (On for O'Mahoney, 56 mins)
Added some urgency and made plenty of tackles in his time on the pitch.
21 Isaac Boss
22 Ian Madigan (On for Sexton, 75 mins)
Not enough time to be rated.
23 Luke Fitzgerald (On for O'Driscoll, 53 mins)
Looked a threat running with the ball, made a crucial turnover and even got involved in a late maul.
By Michael de Vries
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