Leinster player ratings: Henshaw, Sheehan and van der Flier shine as Blues fall short again

Dejected Leinster players, from left, Jason Jenkins, Ross Molony, Cian Healy and Ryan Baird during the Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

David Kelly

How Leinster rated as they lost out to La Rochelle once again in the Champions Cup final.

Hugo Keenan – 7

Acted as the perfect foil in the build-up to Jimmy O’Brien’s try, taking Gibson-Park’s snappy miss pass and puncturing the hole that weakened the gaping blindside defence. Won race to tidy up when Boudehent threatened. Quiet.

Jimmy O’Brien – 6

After delivering an effective performance despite defeat last season, O’Brien’s place was fully justified; even more so, as he scored in Leinster’s initial purple patch but struggled to get into the game thereafter.

Garry Ringrose – 7

Sat down on his backside for Jonathan Danty’s opening try and was an obvious target for the big hitters; won his battle on points, perhaps, but never an instrument of an attack that struggled to cohere in final hour.

Robbie Henshaw – 8

Stout defensive shift vividly illustrated by spectacular hit on Danty. Poor penalty concession after his side went 26-17 up. Atoned with stunning turnover, which ended his day prematurely.

James Lowe – 6

Not his day. Siege gun boot off a prime middle of the field set-piece created the field position for Leinster’s second score, a stunningly executed 50-22 devised on the training pitch; sloppy error in front of his goal-line. Poor 55th kick out on full.

Ross Byrne – 7

Nerveless early settler, from wide on the right, calmed the obvious nerves as the second-choice out-half eased into the contest, settling up for crucial penalty strikes. Zippy pass for O’Brien try. Lacked control.

Jamison Gibson-Park – 7

Speed to the ball and width of the pass ensured that Leinster developed their impressive early platform, but errors crept into his game during nervy third quarter. Huge hit on, of all people, Atonio.

Andrew Porter – 6

Wires crossed at second lineout, then penalised at the first La Rochelle attacking scrum but otherwise outstanding, incredible strength to deny a rumbling maul deep in the third quarter.

Dan Sheehan – 8

Scintillating run for first try, more straight-forward run-in from the quasi-right wing for second. Solid hit on Alldritt in red zone. Huge 53rd minute turnover. Loose ball control shifted momentum. 17 tackles in his 68 minutes.

Tadhg Furlong – 5

Seemed to complete the warm-up with no major issues after a late calf scare but as early as the opening few minutes of the second-half, slipping off a poor tackle effort preceded his removal, in visible distress.

Ross Molony – 7

Tackled like a demon (20 in all) and nobody hit more from his side, secure from touch after dummying Sheehan’s opening throw and a key element in attempting to stem the dangerous maul. Still carrying strong in final throes.

James Ryan – 4

Stage direction of lineout produced the perfect opening line. Some superb early hits but sadly departed for 30th minute HIA after his sixth tackle ended up being unwittingly clattered by a La Rochelle knee.

Caelan Doris – 6

Understandably understated with ball in hand given the recent switch to blindside to accommodate Conan’s irrepressible form; switched there for final quarter but conceded penalty in front of posts.

Josh van der Flier – 8

Some wondrous turnover steals, three in all, as the yellow wave advanced in dominant second-half, made 18 tackles in a spectacular display and late charge almost created winning chance.

Jack Conan – 8

Carried more than twice as much as anyone, beginning with barnstorming play from opening gambit out of touch and emptied the tank, and some reserve, in astonishing hour of power-packed rugby.


Jason Jenkins for Ryan (29) – 4: Not an upgrade and too loose.

Michael Ala’alatoa for Furlong (42) – 3: Silly red card summed up the day.

Ryan Baird for Conan (59) – 5: Some bright moments but unable to stem momentum.

Charles Ngatai for Henshaw (59) – 5: Only player to improve matters from bench.

Ronan Kelleher for Sheehan (69) – 4: Yellow ended game.

Cian Healy for O’Brien and Luke McGrath for Gibson-Park (78): Not on long enough to rate.