Friday 9 December 2016

How they rated

Published 01/05/2011 | 07:37

ISA NACEWA 8/10: The victorious 2009 season is rightly remembered as 'Rocky's , this may well belong to the man they call 'Iosa'. Another quality performance from probably the form player in the northern hemisphere.

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RICHARDT STRAUSS 8.5/10

ANOTHER huge display around the park on top of a quality demonstration of the nuts-andbolts of a hooker's game — lineout throwing and scrummaging. Has blossomed under Joe Schmidt. Best hooker in Ireland.

SHANE HORGAN 7.5/10

TO consistently perform at the top level over a 14 year period is a great achievement in any sport. Took every available opportunity to put himself about physically and made some telling interventions both in attack and defence.

MIKE ROSS 8/10

THE anchor. Was singled out for some attention and dealt with that in typically efficient manner. Contribution away from the setpiece continues to develop; his well-being is now of crucial importance to Leinster and Ireland.

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL 7.5/10

DIFFICULT to avoid repetition when rating this man. Outstanding in attack and defence, and, along with Cullen, the cool head guiding the team. Sin-binning will be debated, but wasn't unreasonable; trademark try compensated.

LEO CULLEN 8/10

THE calm hand on the tiller. Varied line-out well after shaky start and, as ever, happy to grind for 80 minutes. Typically honest display from the most underrated contributor in Irish rugby over the past decade.

GORDON D'ARCY 7.5/10

HASN'T had a vintage season but, from Leinster's point of view, there has been a marked improvement when it really counts. Still not at his best but solid defensively, as always, and consistently made yards in attack.

NATHAN HINES 7.5/10

WILL want to sign off on a high and seemed to revel in Toulouse's physical challenge, while managing to throw in some of his customary displays of soft hands. A tower of physicality in an arena of serious hand-to-hand combat .

LUKE FITZGERALD 6.5/10

BOOSTED by Schmidt's persistent belief in him during the worst form of his career. Ran the right lines and although not all came off, it's only a matter of time before the passes stick and his pre-Lions form returns.

KEVIN McLAUGHLIN 7/10

HAS regained the form of last season and is an excellent contributor to this side. A bruising worker in the mould of the traditional blindside, and a valuable line-out option for Cullen. An area of rich resources for Leinster.

JONATHAN SEXTON 8/10

SEEMS at his most comfortable in the blue jersey and it looked that way again yesterday — a completely assured performance. A threat in attack, brought in his strike runners efficiently too, and 100 per cent with the placed ball.

JAMIE HEASLIP 8.5/10

BACK to his best and a tower of strength in attack, defence, and line-out. Sacrificed himself countless times to do the grunt work and carried the fight all afternoon. Wonderful turnover at death a fitting cameo on which to close.

EOIN REDDAN 7.5/10

ANOTHER strong performance from Reddan. Brought his striking big-hitters: Healy, O'Brien et al, into play well and provided a brisk service for Sexton outside him until replaced by Boss on 52 minutes.

SEAN O'BRIEN 8.5/10

DEFENCES are set up in wait for him but he still removes two or three defenders attempting to contain him, every time. A complete dynamo, both in attack and defence and a real pleasure to watch.

CIAN HEALY 8.5/10

A BIG day after his disappointment last season and another to be mercilessly targetted. More than stood up to the challenge and was always comfortable. Immense effort around the pitch, even more high-octane than usual.

JOE SCHMIDT 9/10

A Heineken Cup final in his first season as a head coach is due reward for an outstanding coaching performance with a team, and individuals, who have thrived under his tutelage. Bold substitutions have been a hallmark.

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