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Ireland player ratings vs South Africa | Rugby World Cup 2023

By Chris Jones
Tadhg Furlong of Ireland, centre, and Iain Henderson celebrate winning a scrum penalty during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France in Paris, France. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland made a major statement to the rest of the World Cup on Saturday evening at the Stade de France as they overcame the world champions South Africa 13-8.

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It was a brutal affair between the world number ones and the reigning champions with Andy Farrell’s outfit holding out a late onslaught from the Boks to win.

Now Ireland are in pole position to win Pool B, here are how the players rated:

15 – Hugo Keenan – 8
Set the tone for the Irish with his first run and was a constant threat with ball in hand. His balance in heavy traffic is remarkable and is getting better with every test match

14 – Mack Hansen – 8
A well taken try made up for an early dropped high kick and he is a player who has that marvellous ability to be in the right place at the right time although he almost ran over the dead ball line before putting the ball down.
That was too close for comfort.

13 – Garry Ringrose – 7
Had to go off for a HIA in the first half after taking a big blow but responded in typical fashion by putting his mark on his opposite number.

12 – Bundee Aki – 9
What a first charge from the big man which let the Springboks know there was a physical threat coming their way. He is playing at a level that makes him one of the outstanding backs at the World Cup. His off loading game is right up there with the best.

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11 – James Lowe – 8
Early positional mistake did not affect is bubbling confidence as he gave the scoring pass to Hansen and then rescued his side by ripping the ball away from the opposition as they drove for the try line. Became an even bigger national hero lifting Etzebeth off the ground.

10 – Johnny Sexton (capt) – 7
Massive hit on his right shoulder had him in trouble but this is warrior who is used to be roughed up. Clever break held the Springbok defence when they wanted to go wide and it created the space for the Hansen try.

9 – Jamison Gibson-Park – 6
Was exposed too often by the Boks charging him down or scragging him at the break down. His service was as quick as ever although his overall game suffered because of the pressure he was under

1 – Andrew Porter – 6
Good work clearing out the break down but things did not go his way in the scrums with a couple of big decisions against him in this key area

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2 – Ronan Kelleher – 5
Had a nightmare at the line out in the first half including a not straight but instead of letting his head drop he bounced back but will be frustrated that his bread and butter work wasn’t up to standard.

3 – Tadhg Furlong – 6
The scrums did not go Ireland’s way at key moments and the big made had to take on plenty of piano shifting in the tight rather than carrying the ball into the opposition

4 – James Ryan – 6
Line out problems were not solved quickly enough and this was the type of game that shows he lacks the sheer brute strength to be a commanding figure

5 – Tadhg Beirne – 7
Stuck in the fight although not the ball carrying performance he normally delivers and that meant plenty of unglamorous work around the break down and knocking down opponents

6 – Peter O’Mahony – 8
Was his combative best when others found it tough to stand their ground. Was the go to man when the line out was malfunctioning and put in a big shift – but what’s new for this fighter

7 – Josh van der Flier – 7
A first half turn over and a refusal to back down despite facing bigger back row opponents made it a ferocious battle for the open side who confirmed his position as one of the best in the game

8 – Caelan Doris – 7
Not the impact he wanted to make although he kept putting his body on the line and that was vital against the Springbok pack and their second half replacements

Replacements: – 6

Dan Sheehan made immediate impact with his line out accuracy while Iain Henderson added fire and fury at the break down while Finlay Bealham was busy

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