Ireland v England player ratings as Tadhg Beirne shines in the Irish victory

Ireland 32-18 England: The Irish dominated and held on to a comfortable win despite a late rally by the visitors

Sarah Rendell
Saturday 20 March 2021 18:45 GMT
Jack Conan scored Ireland’s second try of the afternoon
Jack Conan scored Ireland’s second try of the afternoon (Getty Images)

Ireland executed a clinical and concise 32-18 win over England in the Six Nations this afternoon despite going down to 14 men.

England started well and gained an early penalty which captain Owen Farrell kicked to put his side ahead.

While there was sustained pressure from Eddie Jones’ men, it was Ireland who scored first as Jack Conan managed to recover the ball as it went loose at the back of the Irish line-out. Conan passed the ball to Keith Earls who cut through English defence to dot down.

One more penalty from each team saw the hosts 13-6 ahead but Ireland weren’t finished there in the first half. A well worked team try, coming from a great take under high ball from full-back Hugo Keenan, was scored by Conan just before half-time.

Heading into the break, Ireland were 20-6 up and the pressure from the hosts continued into the second half.

Andy Farrell’s team kept forcing England to be penalised and, as the frustration grew, the more England made mistakes.

Ireland thought they had a try but a knock-on meant it was ruled out but England then gave away two penalties.

There was then concern for Billy Vunipola who seemed to be knocked out by a tackle from Bundee Aki, who was subsequently red carded. Being a man up saw Ben Youngs score to give England some hope.

Sexton continued to knock over penalties but England were given another chance to score a try as Conor Murray was handed a yellow card. They capitalised as Jonny May crashed over. Despite the late comeback, Ireland claimed the win.

Keith Earls scored Ireland’s first try (Getty Images)


Hugo Keenan - 7

Keenan’s name was not mentioned as much as it was in previous games but he had a great take under high ball which led to their second try.

Keith Earls - 8

While he struggled under high ball in the opening stages of the match, he more than made up for it as he scored Ireland’s first try of the afternoon. Unlucky to get his second try ruled out.

Robbie Henshaw - 9

Henshaw was everywhere on the pitch this afternoon. He read an England attacking play well to turn the ball over from George Ford and he brilliantly tackled Elliot Daly to turn the ball over in the 22.

Bundee Aki - 5

Aki was solid for Ireland but his performance was overshadowed by his red card after he tackled Billy Vunipola.

He was bundled into touch by Farrell and Jonny May in the first half but he was consistent with ball in hand.

Jacob Stockdale - 7

Stockdale returned to the Ireland squad for the first time since the Autumn Nations Cup and had a great game. He played a good part in Ireland’s second try and every time he had the ball he looked dangerous.

Jonathan Sexton - 8

Always a player and captain Ireland can depend on, with ball in hand and putting boot to ball. Sexton continued his great kicking form with eight kicks from eight to see his side cruise to victory.

Conor Murray - 6

Murray was solid after coming back from injury but he wasn’t up to his usual standards. He struggled under high balls but did enough to keep Ireland on the front foot. He was shown a yellow card in the 77th minute.

Dave Kilcoyne - 5

He was good at scrum time but unfortunately clashed heads with Kyle Sinckler at 19 mins to go off for a HIA.

Rob Herring - 7

He was constantly a danger at the scrum and kept putting pressure on England to engage early in the first half.

Tadhg Furlong - 8

He was causing all kinds of problems for Mako Vunipola at the scrum and he is another star who continues to perform well for his country.

Iain Henderson - 7

Another star who keeps playing consistency well for Ireland. He is everywhere on the pitch and doesn’t stop fighting for every metre, class.

Tadhg Beirne - 9

Beirne should be a contender for the British and Irish Lions after the amazing Six Nations campaign he has had. He had a great carry in the first half and tackled Maro Itoje to turn over the ball, he should be in Warren Gatland’s side this summer.

CJ Stander - 7

On his last game at the Aviva Stadium after announcing his retirement earlier this month, Stander had a good game. While he wasn’t in his usual No.8 position he continued to make metres. Ireland will miss him when he is gone.

Josh van der Flier - 6

His name wasn’t heard a lot throughout the match but he is a player who does a lot of background work to keep his team scoring, including a crucial turnover.

Jack Conan - 8

He showed great skill to pop the ball from the line-out to Earls for him to score. He then went on to score their second try. With Stander retiring this year he is making his name to become a sure starter.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher (5), Cian Healy (6), Andrew Porter,  Ryan Baird (5), Peter O’Mahony (5), Jamison Gibson Park, Billy Burns,  Jordan Larmour (4).

George Ford was taken off early in the second half (Getty Images)


Elliot Daly - 6

Daly had a rough first half, with a kick hit out on the full and he lost the ball to a turn over in the 22, but his second half started brighter. He made a good hit on Earls under high ball and beat two defenders to put England in a good field position when they needed it.

Anthony Watson - 6

Watson is in good form and today he was let down by a lack of team cohesion. He made a great turn over and pressured Earls to get good field position.

Ollie Lawrence - 5

He was held up on his first carry but he was more involved than he has been in an England shirt previously. He has huge potential for the future for his country.

Owen Farrell - 6

Farrell didn’t play or lead as well as he did against France last week but he made a great tackle on Aki and Iain Henderson to rule out the second try. His kicks were also perfect with two from two. He was taken off for HIA at 55 minutes.

Jonny May - 5

May has faded into the background since his amazing finish against Italy in February. He is a long way off of his best in 2019 but he shows great sparks of his skill. He did manage to score England’s second try.

George Ford - 5

Under-performed for his standards today, nothing he did clicked together. He didn’t impress Eddie Jones either as he was substituted him off at 51 minutes.

Ben Youngs - 5

Youngs is very inconsistent at the moment. He has had great performances for England this campaign, particularly against France, but he isn’t performing game after game. He continued to box kick this afternoon when the tactic wasn’t working but he did score England’s first try of the game.

Mako Vunipola - 4

Penalised a few times at the scrum and the mistakes were shown as he was taken off at half-time.

Luke Cowan-Dickie - 5

He was good at the line-out as he has been all tournament, the hooker has only had successful line-outs throughout. Problems at the scrum meant he was taken off at half-time.

Kyle Sinckler - 5

Sinckler had an average performance but issues at the scrum won’t take him to more than a five.

Maro Itoje - 6

He forced an early penalty but redeemed quickly as he turned the ball over from Stander and then forced Ireland to make penalty. Not up to his usual standards but there’s a feeling he has done enough to book a spot in the British and Irish Lions squad.

Charlie Ewels - 5

Early substitute but he made some good hits and metres.

Mark Wilson - 5

Another player who was subbed off early. He was solid as he put in a big hit on Earls under high ball but wasn’t given enough time to show what he can do.

Tom Curry - 6

Curry is one player who has been great for England throughout the tournament. He has a huge tackle on Henshaw but he knocked on and wasn’t given enough time on the ball to show what he can do.

Billy Vunipola - 5

He was very quiet in the first half and then was penalised in the ruck in the second. There was huge concern for him as he looked to be knocked out after a tackled by Aki and he went off for a HIA.

Replacements: Jamie George (5), Ellis Genge (5), Will Stuart, Jonny Hill (5), Ben Earl (4), Dan Robson (5), George Martin (5), Joe Marchant (6).

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