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Ireland player ratings: ‘The mighty’ Caelan Doris shines but faces struggles – Planet Rugby

Following their 27-20 defeat to the Springboks in the first test of the series, here’s how Ireland’s players fared in the physical encounter in Pretoria.

Ireland player ratings against the Springboks

15. Jamie Osborne: He had a very shaky start at full-back but was also left exposed due to Ireland’s defence. However, he performed well when deployed in the 12th channel and scored a good try from a clever backline. 6

14. Calvin Nash: He failed to score South Africa’s first goal and, due to the narrow system, the Springboks had a lot of movement in their line. He also struggled to have much of an impact on the game in attack. 4

13 Robbie Henshaw: The Springboks’ defence kept him fairly quiet, but he took a heavy knock in the first half and was taken off. 5

12. Bundee-Aki: He was unable to bring his usual punch in the centre of attack, but often found himself up against several defenders. However, he was solid in defence and made some crucial tackles. 5

11. James Lowe: He was often caught out by Ireland’s tight defence and his late error eventually led to the winning try for the Springboks. He produced two beautiful offloads for tries from Osborne and Ryan Baird. 6

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Midfielders

10. Jack Crowley: Ireland were gaining ground in the match and began to pull the strings. However, they had their problems with the kick-off, which cost Ireland valuable points when the match was on the line. 5

9. Craig Casey: Replacing Jamison Gibson-Park was always going to be a difficult task, but Munster’s Casey gave it a determined go. When Ireland had the ball, he tried to inject some pace into the game and kicked well from the base of the ruck. Unfortunately, he was forced off the field after a heavy knock. 6

Back row

8 Caelan Doris: He did a great job in every aspect. He was actively involved in the attack and helped Ireland break down the powerful South African defence. He almost went deep to score a try. 8

7 Josh van der Flier: Ireland were under monumental pressure for much of the match, and Van der Flier once again stepped up for his team. He never stopped trying. 6

6. Peter O’Mahony: He stepped up when his team needed him most and played very well in difficult moments. Once again, the Ireland captain put in a confident performance. 6

Five tight

5. Beirne Tadhg: Like Joe McCarthy, he was involved in most facets of the game. He was very solid in tight spaces and also provided a decent platform at set pieces. In particular, he pulled off a smart interception to deny the Springboks a brilliant opportunity. 7

4. Joe McCarthy: He is finding his place in international football. He was solid as always in set pieces and worked hard all over the pitch. 7

3 Tadhg Furlong: He really closed down his side of the scrum, which in turn allowed Andrew Porter to go all out on the other side for much of the game. He also brought a lot of power in the tight space. 7

2. And Sheehan: He gave Ireland a very good platform in both the scrum and the lineout, and his abrasive ball handling helped Ireland get back into the match. He also produced a wonderful offload in the build-up to Osborne’s try. Sadly, he retired at half-time due to injury. 7

1Andrew Porter: He was incredibly strong in the scrum and really got after his opponent Frans Malherbe in that area. He also had a big impact on both sides of the ball. 7

Replacements: Much has been made of the South African ‘Bomb Squad’, but Ireland’s bench also made a decent impact. Conor Murray’s final try involved three of the substitutes, and Ryan Baird also scored one. 7

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