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England player ratings vs Ireland | Six Nations 2022

By Paul Smith
Jack Nowell of England is challenged by Andrew Conway of Ireland. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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Despite a heroic performance, 14-man England slipped to a 15-32 home defeat at the hands of title-chasing Ireland following the second-minute dismissal of lock forward Charlie Ewels for a dangerous tackle.

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However, the men in white deserve plenty of plaudits for their never-say-die approach to a contest in which they pushed Ireland all the way before finally being sunk by late scores from replacements Finlay Bealham and Jack Conan.

England’s title hopes are now over, while Ireland retain genuine hopes of lifting the Six Nations crown if they can repeat this bonus point win when Scotland visit the Aviva Stadium in seven days’ time.

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Marcus Smith kicked three first-half penalties as Ireland struggled to get to grips with French referee Mathieu Raynal’s scrum interpretations.

However, despite shipping nine penalties before the break it was the visitors who held a 9-15 interval advantage thanks to tries from James Lowe and Hugo Keenan plus Johnny Sexton’s penalty and conversion.

Following the restart, Smith added two further penalties to one from Sexton before replacements Conan and Bealham barged over for a late match-clinching converted scores.

England made three changes to the side that beat Wales with Jamie George replacing the injured Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker. Elsewhere no.8 Sam Simmonds and centre Joe Marchant swapped starting and bench roles with COVID victim Alex Dombrandt and Elliot Daly.

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Ireland captain Sexton started for the first time in this tournament. Five further changes saw prop Cian Healy replace injured Andrew Porter, while full-back Hugo Keenan, wing Andrew Conway, centre Bundee Aki and prop James Ryan, who sat out the big win over Italy, all returned to the starting line-up.

15. Freddie Steward – 6
Less prominent with ball in hand than of late, Steward was solid as ever at the back. Thought he’d pulled off a 95-metre interception try only to be recalled by the referee’s whistle.

14. Max Malins – 6
Found James Ryan a real handful but played a key role in disrupting Ireland’s rhythm with his energy and kick chase.

13. Joe Marchant – 8
Made an important early interception to halt the visitors’ flowing start and later won two penalties on the ground with good power over the ball. Despite having few opportunities to attack Marchant put in a brilliant defensive shift.

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12. Henry Slade – 6
Used a lot at first receiver in attack where he made a useful contribution. Struggled to stop Bundee Aki on the gainline.

11. Jack Nowell – 7
Probably wasn’t expecting to be packing down on the flank inside the opening ten minutes but still found time to make some useful breaks in his more natural habitat. Nowell’s amazing appetite for work saw him steal a Smith restart from Andrew Conway’s grasp.

10. Marcus Smith – 6.5
After missing with an early long-range penalty he found his range from 40 metres and went on to kick 15 points as Ireland conceded 15 penalties. Given little space in which to launch England’s attacking game.

9. Harry Randall – 6.5
Showed intent by tapping their first penalty and making 30 metres from inside his own half. Always a danger round the fringes, Randall also kicked more consistently than in recent weeks.

1. Ellis Genge – 9.5
Got the better of Tadgh Furlong in the scrum where England dominated and as a result found plenty of favour with the referee. The Leicester skipper’s 13 tackles featured a huge hit on Furlong which forced a turnover deep inside England’s 22. His best England display.

2. Jamie George – 8.5
Underthrew an early lineout but otherwise was part of an England pack whose lineout functioned smoothly despite being a jumper down. In addition to joining his front row mates in bossing the scrum contest, the Sarries hooker also made 14 tackles, one of which forced a vital turnover under his own posts early in the second half.

3. Kyle Sinckler – 6
Less prominent than usual with ball in hand as part of a seven-man pack but distinguished himself with a thumping defensive hit on his own line which caused the concussion that forced him from the field.

4. Maro Itoje – 9
Made a critical intervention when his slap of Jamison Gibson-Park’s wrist caused a knock-on which ruled out a Lowe try. Once Ewels departed he became England’s main lineout option in addition to being typically disruptive in the maul. Another outstanding effort from England’s Mr Consistent.

5. Charlie Ewels – n/a
Received the earliest red card in international rugby history after only 82 seconds for his dangerous tackle on James Ryan who was left concussed. Ewels failed to bend into the tackle and as a result made forceful and direct contact with his opposite number’s head.

6. Courtney Lawes – 9
In addition to doing well at the front of the lineout and making a best-of-the-day 16 tackles, England’s skipper who played much of the game in the second row marshalled his troops and referee Raynal superbly.

7. Tom Curry – n/a
Limped off injured in the 14th minute.

8. Sam Simmonds – 7
Bounced off Ireland’s tacklers in the wide channels to create England’s best attacking position but was mostly restricted to defensive work where he made an impressive 15 tackles.

REPLACEMENTS

16. Jamie Blamire – n/a
Saw a few minutes of action when George finally gave way.

17. Joe Marler – n/a
Replaced the outstanding Genge with 15 minutes remaining.

18. Will Stuart – 6
Replaced Sinckler just ahead of half-time and put in an impressive nine tackles.

19. Joe Launchbury – n/a
Made a long-awaited return from injury when he replaced Dombrandt in the 65th minute.

20. Alex Dombrandt – 6
Arrived as a 14th minute replacement for Curry and put in a hard-working shift before 50 minutes later becoming a replacement who was himself replaced.

21. Ben Youngs – 6
Pitched into the fray with 30 minutes remaining and other than one over-cooked box kick put in a typically solid performance.

22. George Ford – n/a
Replaced Steward in the dying seconds.

23. Elliot Daly – n/a
Replaced Marchant with ten minutes remaining.

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