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Ireland player ratings vs Springboks | Rugby World Cup 2023

By Tom Vinicombe
Ireland's inside centre Bundee Aki challenges South Africa's right wing Kurt-Lee Arendse (R) during the France 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Ireland at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on September 23, 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Ireland have secured a titanic 13-8 win over the Springboks in Paris to give themselves the best possible chance of topping Pool B at the Rugby World Cup – and earning a quarter-final against the All Blacks.

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While it was a low scoring match, there was no lack of big hits, audacious shows of skill or heart-in-mouth moments to keep fans entertained.

How did the Irish players rate in victory?

1. Andrew Porter – 7/10
Put in a big shift on both sides of the ball, lasting almost the full 80. Felt the full weight of the bomb squad in the second half, conceding a couple of penalties in the process. At least won one back of his own at the end of the third quarter. Some good counter-rucking in the final 10 minutes helped Ireland grab a turnover. Off in 75th minute.

2. Ronan Kelleher – 5
Set the early standard with a big hit on Damian Willemse from the kick-off but then couldn’t find his target with his first four lineouts. Finished with nine successes from 14 deliveries, which could have proved costly. One of a number of forwards forced to make a significant number of tackles in the first half. Off in 53rd minute.

3. Tadhg Furlong – 5
Free-kicked then penalised for early hits at the scrum. Put in one stinging tackle on Eben Etzebeth. Like Porter, wasn’t able to weather the storm brought by the Springboks’ second-half replacements – but scrummaging against a fresh South African pack is no easy feat. Off in 64th minute.

4. Tadhg Beirne – 7
Ferocious on defence and carried resolutely. Made a good steal at the breakdown but then rushed the delivery to Doris who dropped the pass. Missed RG Snyman when the big Springbok charged down the middle of the park.

5. James Ryan – 6
Not the most impactful performance from the experienced lock. Worked tirelessly to disrupt the breakdown but wasn’t as prominent on defence or with the ball in hand. Off in 53rd minute.

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6. Peter O’Mahony – 7
The safest pair of hands at the lineout. Great work at the set-piece early in the second half saw Ireland win a throw-in. Tackled his heart out. Off in 64th minute.

7. Josh van der Flier – 8
Led the way on defence in the first half. Made a big carry in the lead-up to Ireland’s first try of the night to generate some important go-forward. The only starting Ireland forward to take all his lineout deliveries. Forced a breakdown penalty shortly before halftime.

Points Flow Chart

Ireland win +5
Time in lead
35
Mins in lead
41
44%
% Of Game In Lead
51%
63%
Possession Last 10 min
37%
0
Points Last 10 min
3

8. Caelan Doris – 7
Good work at the first lineout to snare the ball back after a steal from South Africa. Dropped the ball centimetres from the line to end a promising Ireland attack. Couldn’t shift his opposite number when Jasper Wiese latched onto the ball. Pinged at the maul. Lifted his carrying game in the second half and finished as Ireland’s top tackler.

9. Jamison Gibson-Park – 8
Dealt well with plenty of pressure from the big South African forwards. Put in a strong shift on defence around the breakdown (helped James Lowe get Eben Etzebeth off the ground) and gave his teammates good service. Off in 66th minute.

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10. Johnny Sexton – 7
Ireland collectively held their breath when Sexton was left clutching his wrist following an attempted tackle on Damian de Allende – but the experienced No 10 played on. Moments later he was weaving some magic inside South Africa’s 22 to orchestrate some space out wide for Ireland to profit. Couldn’t quite unlock the South African defence but certainly forced it to work hard. Hit double figures on defence. Off in 73rd minute.

11. James Lowe – 7
Made a couple of errors but likewise made some key contributions in the win. Forced one breakdown penalty and also won a turnover on his own tryline. On the other end of the spectrum, an awful kick from inside Ireland’s in-goal after some good defence from his teammates handed South Africa prime attacking position. Quick hands gave Mack Hansen the space he needed to dot down for Ireland’s opening score. Got in underneath Etzebeth when the towering Springboks lock was charging towards the line and with a bit of help from his teammates, was able to force a turnover.

12. Bundee Aki – 9
Defended superbly close to Ireland’s try line. Made a scorching break near the half-hour mark, busting through Willemse and racing 50 metres up to the field to give his team some excellent territory. Popped up on the left wing moments later for another significant gain. Made ground with almost every carry – 14 of them! Copped a penalty in the second half for sealing off the breakdown but won a turnover of his own with time almost up on the clock.

13. Garry Ringrose – 8
Made an excellent covering tackle on Jesse Kriel to prevent a likely South African try. His excellent triple pump pass released Keenan down the wing in the early stages of the game. Rushed out of the line to put a big hit on De Allende at the beginning of the second quarter but was bounced to the ground and left the field for an HIA. Returned to the field late in the half and immediately – with time almost up on the clock – made two big hits with Ireland eventually getting rewarded at the breakdown.

14. Mack Hansen – 6
Bravely leapt into the air to take a few high balls – and was immediately punished by the South African defenders every time he returned to terra firma. Grabbed the first try of the night – but came oh-so-close to almost running dead.

 

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15. Hugo Keenan – 6
Tough to bring to deck when he was given space. Made a brilliant break early in the match down the left-hand flank, cutting between two defenders to get within five metres of the try line. Didn’t have the best of luck under the high ball but always looked interested.

Reserves

16. Dan Sheehan – 5
On in 53rd minute. Copped a couple of penalties – including one of the final two that could have killed the win for Ireland. Wasn’t able to get his running game going in his World Cup debut but hit his two lineouts.

17. Dave Kilcoyne – N/A
On in 75th minute.

18. Finlay Bealham – 6
On in 64th minute. Added genuine impact and held up his side of the scrum well.

19. Iain Henderson – 6
On in 53rd minute. Toiled tirelessly.

20. Ryan Baird – N/A
On in 64th minute.

21. Conor Murray – 7
On in 66th minute. Immediately won a breakdown penalty and made one big tackle to shut down a Springboks attack.

22. Jack Crowley – N/A
On in 73rd minute. Nailed one (admittedly straightforward) crucial penalty.

23. Robbie Henshaw – 6
On in 22nd minute as a temporary replacement for Ringrose and then permanently in the 64th minute. Put in an unusual cross-field kick. Tackled well but didn’t feature with the ball.

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Comments

69 Comments
G
Gordon 265 days ago

Max, maybe you could check out Jerry Collins and Tana Umaga?? Ha ha. Collins born in Apia, Samoa. Umaga born in Lower Hutt.
Yes NZ mainly has kiwi born players unlike other countries.

M
Max 266 days ago

Mils Muliaina (Samoa): A versatile fullback, Muliaina was a key figure in the All Blacks' backline.

Jonah Lomu (Tonga): Widely regarded as one of the greatest wingers in rugby history, Lomu was a phenomenon on the field.

Joe Rokocoko (Fiji): Known for his incredible speed and try-scoring ability, Rokocoko was a prolific winger.

Doug Howlett (Fiji): Another talented winger, Howlett had an impressive try-scoring record for the All Blacks.

Sitiveni Sivivatu (Fiji): Sivivatu was known for his powerful running and finishing ability as a winger.

Mose Tuiali'i (Tonga): A dynamic number eight, Tuiali'i was a key player in the All Blacks' forward pack.

Robin Brooke (England): Born in England, Brooke became a respected lock for the All Blacks.

Va'aiga Tuigamala (Samoa): Tuigamala was a dynamic back known for his versatility in both rugby union and rugby league.

Frank Bunce (Western Samoa): Bunce was a skillful and powerful center who made a significant impact in the midfield.

Brendon O'Connor (South Africa): O'Connor, a flanker, represented the All Blacks after qualifying through residency.

Buck Shelford (England): Born in England, Shelford was a legendary All Blacks captain and number eight.

Norm Hewitt (Samoa): Hewitt, a hooker, had a solid career with the All Blacks during the 1990s.

Jeremy Thrush (Australia): Thrush, a lock, made appearances for the All Blacks during his career.

Colin Charvis (Wales): Charvis, a flanker, was eligible to play for the All Blacks but chose to represent Wales instead.

Isaia Toeava (Samoa): Toeava played in various positions in the backline and had a successful international career.

George Moala (Tonga): Moala was a powerful center who represented the All Blacks during his career.

Kees Meeuws (South Africa): A prop, Meeuws played a significant role in the All Blacks' front row.

Andy Haden (England): Haden was a prominent lock for the All Blacks and played a key role in the lineout.

Brad Thorn (Australia): Thorn, originally from Australia, was a versatile forward who excelled in both rugby league and rugby union.

Andrew Mehrtens (South Africa): Mehrtens was a skillful fly-half who played a pivotal role in the All Blacks' backline.

R
Richie 266 days ago

Well done to ALL the Irish boys for playing not great but beating a very tough team in the end. We rode our luck big time in the first 30 and thankfully came out of it on top. Hopefully we will get our set pieces back on song pretty quick and carry on the winning. Special congrats to Bundee Aki on his 50 caps with a typical barn storming performance a proud Connacht man

C
Cam 266 days ago

Lowe was decent- I'd have given him
At least ½ point more!

C
Cathal 267 days ago

Is the writer high?

b
ben 267 days ago

Bundi Aki: best NZer at RWC?

A
AlexH 267 days ago

Good win for the Irish. Much respect. Boks will win this. Too many options to fall back on in final selection. France sans DuPont in 1/4s a better prospect than the ABs.

J
Jmann 267 days ago

Great work from all 3 New Zealanders. Aucklander, Aki was immense. He's not quite Nonu - but he's not far off.

P
PJSingh 267 days ago

Vermuelen played? Not in the match I watched

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