Saturday 17 March 2018

How they rated

David Kelly

David Kelly

ISA NACEWA: The skyscraping 62nd-minute catch was a feat seemingly unmatchable until he launched into Gregory Lamboley to prevent a certain try. 9

SHANE HORGAN: Deployed brilliantly for restarts, one of which played a crucial role in the build-up to Sexton's penalty to edge Leinster to 19-20. 8

Brian O'Driscoll: Deadly from 10 yards, O'Driscoll pounced once more to plunge a knife into French hearts. Sacrificed 10 minutes to prevent certain try. 8

Gordon D'Arcy: The one three-quarter who managed to breach the gain-line with feisty consistency; redoubtable in defence. 8

Luke Fitzgerald: Didn't over-stretch himself and managed to maintain his angle of running better than in recent times. Justified coach's faith. 7

Jonathan Sexton: A couple of poor touch kicks aside, Sexton was unflappable and he ruthlessly punished French indiscipline. 8

Eoin Reddan: Edgy build-up to the final for him as Boss will certainly challenge for starting berth; although Reddan wasn't helped by fierce Toulouse rucking which disrupted service. 6

Cian Healy: Lampooned by the French a year ago, Healy announced himself on the grand stage with a wondrous display of tight and loose play. 9

Richardt Strauss: Will be first-choice Irish hooker for a decade or more on the strength of this season's remarkable efforts. 8

Mike Ross: Leinster's acknowledged scrum geek illustrated the remarkable turnaround compared to last year's miserable effort. A titan. 8

Leo Cullen: Another brilliantly understated role but on clearer examination offered so much in so many departments. Personified Leinster's calm authority amidst emotional swirl. 8

Nathan Hines: Fiery competitor revelled in the type of contest to which he's so familiar with from his French experiences. 7

Kevin McLaughlin: The line-out option was rendered redundant as Leinster misfired early on, and Jennings' impact will see McLaughlin lose his place for final. 6

Sean O'Brien: Could miss the rest of the season should the citers decide to follow up his reckless reaction to the nuisance Yannick Nyanga. 8

Jamie Heaslip: Performed the vital turnover which summed up his contribution on a day when he belatedly returned to the form which made him such a force to be reckoned with in world rugby. 9


Heinke Van Der Merwe: Replaced Healy and made an immediate impact in the scrum and then tackled like a demon. 8

Shane Jennings: Sealed off the rucks and helped to speed up the Leinster ball at a vital time in the game. 8

Isaac Boss: Came on for Reddan and did enough to strongly contend for a place in the Cardiff starting XV. 8

Head coach

Joe Schmidt: Choreographed the semi-final perfectly, topping it all off with the key trio of replacements that helped to turn the tide in his side's favour. 9 COMPILED BY DAVID KELLY

Irish Independent

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