Monday 19 March 2018

How they rated

Isa Nacewa: Becoming boring at this stage repeating how formidable this guy's influence has become. Genius dripping to his very fingertips. 9

Shane Horgan: Leicester plopped a series of kick-offs into his arms during the first-half. Joe Schmidt's influence has reinvigorated the Meath man. 7

Brian O'Driscoll: Almost KO'd by Manu Tuilagi but recovered to marshal defence superbly and offer attacking bursts. Magnificent leadership. 8

Gordon D'Arcy: Has been more consistent in Leinster blue than Ireland green this season. Danced like a dervish and tackled like a demon. 8

Luke Fitzgerald: Needs to chill out or fear losing his place to Fergus McFadden. Anxiety since comeback betrayed by over-running passes. 5

Jonathan Sexton: Aside from superlative kicking and play-making, a special word required for astonishing defence, right to the final minute when holding up an opponent. 8

Eoin Reddan: Dealt with a lot of scrappy stuff as Leicester spoiled much of the quick ball Leinster were seeking. Dominated his opponent for the second time in a month. 8

Cian Healy: Was finding it difficult enough against Dan Cole in their front-row rematch but still delivered a powerful display. 7

Richardt Strauss: Soared way beyond his colleagues in terms of tackle count and still found time to power beyond the midfield to launch a stunning Leinster offensive. 9

Mike Ross: Albeit pulverised in one scrum, delivered his most effective all-round display this season. 8

Leo Cullen: The captain, hardened in the Leicester school of hard knocks, repaid the debt once more with a superlative performance. 8

Nathan Hines: The veteran snapped at the opposition all day, rucking fearlessly and tackling demonically. 7

Kevin McLaughlin: Quiet last week but made a big noise on Saturday. Franked his recovery from injury, stole two line-outs and now streaking ahead as back-up in Ireland's back-row. 8

Sean O'Brien: Still seems relatively cowed by his station on the openside. Stunning corner-flag tackle turned the game's momentum. 8

Jamie Heaslip: Spending too much time loitering on the wing, as many supporters moaned on Saturday. A few big moments, though. 7

Replacements: Isaac Boss: Replaced Reddan on the hour as Schmidt correctly responded to Leicester's increased physicality. 7

Dominic Ryan: Came on for McLaughlin with 12 minutes left and did his fair share of dirty work. 7

Head coach: Joe Schmidt: After enduring a difficult few weeks of transition, Schmidt is now master of all he surveys, subtly marrying flair and physicality while always deferring to his intelligent players. 8

Irish Independent

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