/ Six Nations 2014

Player Ratings: France 17-17

Updated: Monday, 05 Mar 2012 16:04

Stephen Ferris: Ireland's outstanding forward
Stephen Ferris: Ireland's outstanding forward

by Brendan Cole

1. Cian Healy: Carried powerfully and battled the French maul, aside from a dip after a knock midway through the first half, but Healy was lucky to escape a yellow for interfering with a French attack, and gave away a key second-half penalty which Parra kicked. 6.

2. Rory Best: Throw went sour as Ireland had a terrible day at the lineout, albeit against a French unit picked to compete. Elsewhere, Best was not effective as usual as a playmaker, but competed well on the deck and won an important penalty. 5.

3. Mike Ross: One or two carries but overall, his scrum effort was the sum of his contribution and it was pretty hefty. Dave Pearson’s "please make it go away" approach to refereeing there helped at times. 7.

4. Donncha O’Callaghan: Got smashed in contact when carrying the ball a few times and otherwise had a quiet outing. 5.

5. Paul O’Connell: Had the usual frustrating handling error or two but got involved in a huge amount of play and put in some absolutely ferocious hits. 8.

6. Stephen Ferris: Outstanding. Led Ireland’s defensive effort around the fringes, creating linspeed and hitting incredibly hard. Not quite as good in attack but the charge-down on Beauxis capped a near flawless blindside display. 9.

7. Sean O’Brien: Frustrating day that saw him give away some important penalties but also make the steal that set Bowe’s second try in motion. Had his best spell of the match between the time Reddan came on and his own withdrawal for O’Mahony. 7.

8. Jamie Heaslip: Effective and muscular without hitting the heights, Heaslip made the steal on the deck that denied France a final shot at goal in the last minute but dropped the ball on halfway to give them a final chance to win seconds later. 6.

9. Conor Murray: Improved performance with good kicking and a more assured capacity to organise the attack and move the ball swiftly. Physical presence also came in handy at times. 7.

10. Jonathan Sexton: Superb at some things, below average at others. Defensively in particular, Sexton had a fantastic game, and the running attack was also effective. But the kicking from the hand faltered twice as the match hung in the balance, and he missed an easy penalty early on. 8.

11. Andrew Trimble: This game demanded finesse from the back three and he faltered at some important moments, letting a crucial kick bounce past him, botching a switch with Heaslip and bumping into Trinh-Duc under a garryowen to give the French a key relieving penalty. 5.

12. Gordon D’Arcy: Used his footwork to good effect to keep the ball safe and in tandem with Earls, managed the French midfield threat, though he hesitated just before Fofana’s try. The dropped ball as Ireland built pressure in the second half was not his first passing error of the Championship, and he was yanked off soon after. 6.

13. Keith Earls: Ireland upped their linespeed and it paid dividends for Earls, who managed the French wide threat well. Attempt to fly-hack instead of diving on the ball before Fofana’s try was a misjudgement and he was largely unable to break through in attack. 6.

14. Tommy Bowe: Read the game like a book, and did all the basics, as well as scoring two sublime tries from two half chances. The second in particular was a fantastic individual effort: the chip and chase were excellent, but the hand-off on Fofana to get free was truly top class. 9.

15. Rob Kearney: Played like a man possessed, putting in a genuinely fantastic aerial display and attacking with verve at every opportunity. Millimetres away from knocking the ball out of Fofana’s grasp as he placed it over the tryline, which would have made for the perfect performance. 9.

Substitutes:

16. Sean Cronin: Got a late chance but also missed a lineout throw, though Ireland claimed the ball at the back. 5.

17. Tom Court: Survived the final scrum on halfway. 5.

18. Donnacha Ryan: Showed good energy and must be close to replacing O'Callaghan in the starting jersey. 6.

19. Peter O'Mahony: Replaced O'Brien just as Ireland lost control of the ball for the last time. 5.

20. Eoin Reddan: A 20 minute cameo of two halfs. Orchestrated some really effective attacking sequences just after coming on, but Ireland got shoved around when they did not have the ball in the final 10 minutes. 6.

21. Ronan O'Gara: Still classy and his nice little chipped dropout for Heaslip lifted the late French siege briefly at an important moment, but lack of strength in the tackle was apparent once or twice. 5.

22. Fergus McFadden: Came on for Trimble after he conceded a penalty for bumping into Trinh-Duc, but the ball never came anywhere near. 5.