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Ireland A player ratings vs All Blacks XV | Autumn Nations Series

By Liam Heagney
Ireland's Ciaran Frawley (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland A player ratings live from the RDS: This was billed as a lovely niche fixture for the IRFU, an opportunity to give some of Andy Farrell’s fringe players a run and run the rule over other promising youngsters to help deepen the depth ten months out from the start of RWC 2023.

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The Irish had been doing plenty of exploring of late, sharing a two-match series with the Maori All Blacks just a few months ago and then sending a batch of more youthful representative-level wannabees off to South Africa under an Emerging Ireland moniker.

All that exploration boiled down to this, a rendezvous on a cold Dublin night between players surplus to Saturday’s main events – the Ireland Test down the D4 road against the world champions Springboks and the All Blacks Test across the Irish Sea versus Wales in Cardiff.

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Ireland fielded a starting XV containing eight Test-capped players, the All Blacks seven – including a bunch released by Ian Foster after last week’s scratchy win over the Japanese in Tokyo.

That latter crew proved much too strong, energy oozing through their early play and they sprinted 19-0 ahead with three tries – Shaun Stevenson with two and Brodie McAlister – before the Irish were tossed a late first-half lifebuoy with a Ciaran Frawley try.

Any notions of a full-on Irish revival were swiftly quelled on the resumption, though, Ruben Love scoring within seconds and another sweet converted try followed from Braydon Ennor for a lopsided 33-7 advantage. There was a consolation from Ireland sub Marty Moore, but the feel-good vibe from that was quickly pierced by AJ Lam’s 61st-minute dive-in at the corner.

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A Damian McKenzie try then rounded off the visitors’ try-scoring before a late Max Deegan consolation left the final score at 47-19. Here are the Ireland A player ratings on a disappointing night for the hosts:

15. Michael Lowry – 5
Cheslin Kolbe will learn on Saturday if he can play Test rugby at full-back for the Springboks and, as a warm-up, he won’t have enjoyed seeing the equally minuscule Lowry struggle in an uncomfortable defensive start not helped by his exit for a HIA he passed. Showed nice footwork when tidying early in the second half but was levelled by the not-so Love after passing clear. The passage summed up his bruising evening.

14. Calvin Nash – 5
This was supposed to be Jimmy O’Brien’s berth but the uncapped Leinster player was nudged onto the Ireland Test bench on Friday when Robbie Henshaw pitched up lame, paving the way for the promotion of Nash off the A replacements. Nash’s first main involvement was getting held up in contact at the expense of a midfield penalty. Struggled defensively with the All Blacks revelling in generating so many outside edge options. Had a positive last say, however, with that pass for the Deegan score.

13. Jamie Osborne – 6.5
Looked tasty a fortnight ago until injured for Leinster versus Munster, there were little glimpses here that offered encouragement such as a lengthy touch finder from the goal line and then a carry that briefly energised the home support eager for anything to cheer. Lived off crumbs, however, as the opposition backline was a different class.

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12. James Hume – 6
Hungry to show credentials in an appetising head-to-head with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, he took a dunt early and then another, the latter resulting in a yellow card for Luke Jacobsen for foul play on halfway after the action had stopped with the All Blacks thinking they had scored their fourth first-half try. Nice hands in the Frawley try soon after but lost his footing in the counter-attack that gave the visitors their first-minute second-half try. Gone on 57 for Daly after a troubling evening.

11. Jacob Stockdale – 5.5
The wing whose electric try-scoring frill banjaxed Steve Hansen’s All Blacks in 2018 has endured quite a fall from that giddy breakthrough year, injury and lack of form pushing the 35-capper down the Farrell pecking order. You could see why here as he had an early kick charged down and was then at fault for the penalty that led to the All Blacks’ maul try from McAlister. To his credit, showed good heart when acrobatically winning an Irish restart and it was his carry that then gave his team field position to attack for their opening try.

10. Ciaran Frawley – 5.5
The utility that Farrell has placed so much emphasis on making it as an out-half, the multiple learnings arrived thick and fast here with the All Blacks backs looking so pacey and powerful. His basics required polish, such as missing touch with a first-half penalty. Popped up with the try just before the interval but was gone injured seven minutes after the interval after a performance that left him much to consider.

9. Craig Casey – 6
Skipper on the night, he was another with a tasty one-on-one to negotiate coming up against TJ Perenara. The experience didn’t go all that well. At fault for the first try, he was caught out by the McKenzie crosskick and easily beaten by Stevenson while positioned on the wing in defence. His pass did play its part in Ireland’s late first-half retort, but his energy didn’t make enough of an overall difference. Departed on 68 for Caolin Blade.

1. Jeremy Loughman – 5.5
Found it tough to gain any sort of foothold until his little carry into space near halfway gave Ireland some momentum when 14 early points down. Gone on 52 minutes for Dave Kilcoyne.

2. Dave Heffernan – 5
Can’t be pleased the first-half lineout was a reason the All Blacks dominated. Finished with a quick-tap penalty that fell short of the try line in the second half. Departed for Diarmuid Barron on 52.

3. Tom O’Toole – 6
Fleetingly showed he has more to offer than being only a set-piece prop; his catch-pass was wonderful in the assist for the Frawley score. Gone on 52 for Moore, who had a try within six minutes of his introduction.

4. Joe McCarthy – No Rating
A sub in the Champions Cup final, he has had very little rugby this season with Leinster but quickly showed nuisance value here when disrupting TJ Perenara at a ruck. Gone way too soon with an eighth-minute injury and was missed despite the arrival of Ross Molony as sub.

5. Gavin Thornbury – 6
His tough-going display was encapsulated when he had a first-half lineout catch stolen in the All Blacks’ 22 at the cost of a try down the other end. Was then forcibly driven back in the carry some moments later on halfway.

6. Cian Prendergast – 7
One of the youngsters who most benefited from taking on the Maoris in July, he led the resistance here with his determination. Lovely attitude.

7. Nick Timoney – 6.5
Having looked the part when an emergency call-up for Farrell’s Test side against Argentina a year ago, he tried hard here but there was too much damage for him to mask. His desire, though, was illustrated by his scamper back to unsuccessfully try to prevent Stevenson from scoring his second try.

8. Gavin Coombes – 6
Is the go-to for go-forward with Munster but he couldn’t deliver that type of influence here and was gone at 33-7 on 55 minutes for the try-scoring sub Deegan.

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