Saturday 10 December 2016

Leinster Player Ratings

Published 23/05/2011 | 05:00

Isa Nacewa 7

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Dropped the high ball twice in the first half as he reflected Leinster's malaise, clutched one superbly in the second half that mirrored his side's revival. Superb tackle grounded Chris Ashton.

Shane Horgan 7

One of the few not blinded by the headlights in the opening half. Took two important restarts in the opening half to ensure Leinster had a modicum of territory. Bizarrely, Saints kicked regularly to his wing.

Brian O'Driscoll 8

Was clearly struggling with his knee injury, missing regular tackles, such as the last-ditch attempt to prevent Ben Foden's try. Then produced one of the greatest 15-minute cameos a final has ever seen. Genius.

Gordon D'Arcy 7

Like his midfield mucker, D'Arcy was guilty of missing key tackles in an unusually slip-shod opening half. But when Leinster rediscovered their poise, he danced and jinked with panache and was unluckily denied a try.

Luke Fitzgerald 7

Declan Kidney's faith in him didn't pay off; Joe Schmidt has had more leeway. Confirmed his reputation as the side's technically most adept tackler by crunching Courtney Lawes and Shane Geraghty.

Jonathan Sexton 9

Fearless. Looked as distracted as his team early in the piece, kicking dead and ultimately costing his side seven points. Became the History Boy at half-time with his Istanbul inspiration and the rest is, well, history.

Eoin Reddan 7

Poor defence for the Saints' opening try and the game didn't suit him at all in the first half as Leinster went backwards; when the scrum settled, his zippy delivery and pace complemented the recovery.

Cian Healy 6

Was utterly obliterated in the first half and one expected a repeat of his humiliating substitution in Toulouse last season; restored reputation in the second half and exploded in open play.

Richardt Strauss 7

Like his front-row partners, Strauss was being pulverised by the faintly illegal actions of the Northampton front-row; barely had a line-out throw to speak of. All changed after the interval.

Mike Ross 6

As the self-styled scrum nerd, Ross and coach Greg Feek would have pored over the endless evidence presented in a shambolic first-half display; locked down the scrum in the second half.

Leo Cullen 7

Another whose leadership role proved vital in ensuring Leinster did not disappear into a depression at the break; now forms a select band of two-time winning captains. Lovely post-match moment with dad Frank.

Nathan Hines 7

Scored final try that will act as a perfect send-off to the Leinster fans. He started the move with a deft offload and finished with a bruising run -- a characteristic combination of beauty and beast.

Kevin McLaughlin 5

Missed tackles in the first half and paid the ultimate price; his removal will be viewed as a turning point but that would be harsh as the key game plan clearly hadn't panned out as the coaches had expected.

Sean O'Brien 8

Was utterly impotent in the first half as his side was in accelerated retreat and even missed a key tackle; bounced back with familiar violent intensity in second act when moved to six. Stole crucial ball for opening try.

Jamie Heaslip 8

Knocked on early in the piece and failed to perform adequately at the base of a beaten scrum. Needed to become one of the leaders and he did just that, his burst creating the space for Sexton's opening try.

Replacements

Shane Jennings 6

Schmidt needed a little extra speed at the breakdown and the wily openside helped generate a perfect storm, demonstrating that experience is invaluable on occasions such as these.

Heinke van der Merwe 6

Came on for Healy in what has become a predictable pre-planned operation by Leinster; by the time he arrived, the game was almost over but he highlighted the disparity of talent between both benches.

Head coach Joe Schmidt 9

Inherited a machine from Michael Cheika and has added the deftest of touch-ups to restore Leinster to the pinnacle of European rugby. Calm poise at the break typified his season-long unflappability.

Irish Independent

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