Saturday 24 August 2019

Leinster player ratings: James Lowe, Scott Fardy and Jack Conan among the top performers for the gallant losers

Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens in action against Jack Conan of Leinster during the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and Saracens at St James' Park in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens in action against Jack Conan of Leinster during the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and Saracens at St James' Park in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Des Berry

Leinster tasted defeat in a European final for the first time but they gave everything they had in a 20-10 defeat to Saracens. Here's how Leo Cullen's men rated.

ROB KEARNEY: When it comes to dealing with high balls, there is no better ‘bomb defuser’ around. He collected the first with ease. The man who isn’t usually a threat in attack was the instigator for Furlong’s five - 7.      

JORDAN LARMOUR: There were two half-chances up the right that just got away from him. He climbed over the top of Maitland for a brilliant take. Unnecessarily left alone Maitland alone for the Sarries try on half-time - 6. 

GARRY RINGROSE: The brain of the backline operation was tasked with reading and reacting to Sarries attack. There was an uncharacteristic knock-on and a sense he was not quite in the groove, growing in the game - 6. 

ROBBIE HENSHAW: The first few touches got the centre into the game quickly. A muscular turnover was a noteworthy moment as the Athlone man was eager to hoover up the breaking ball he alluded to in the build-up - 8.

JAMES LOWE: The lightening attacker was given an early warning when wrongfooted by Liam Williams. He looked dangerous on and around the ball, a one-two with Sexton almost cracking Sarries. Improved out of sight in defence – 8.

JONATHAN SEXTON: The first three points were a confidence builder. He latched onto a loose ball and played the role of the facilitator from there on. There was precious little room to exploit and he never really committed to throwing those wide balls - 7. 

LUKE McGRATH: The opening box kicks were right on the money. He knocked the ball free from Goode to set up a Leinster counter. Cool-headed on his own line, a monster tackle on George could not prevent Saracens first-half try - 7. 

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CIAN HEALY: The grizzled loose-head had a barnstormer in putting his shoulder to the wheel at the scrum against Lamositele and Koch. He was able to put Leinster on the frontfoot with his carrying game - 8. 

SEAN CRONIN: The hooker was touch and go to make it through on a compromised calf. The first throw was on point and he was inclined to pop up in the outside channel, looking to expose soft shoulders - 7.

TADHG FURLONG: The Wexford man was rock solid at the set-piece. He somehow collared Lozowski in the open and had the man strength to tunnel under Koch and Billy Vunipola for a terrific try ahead of a Herculean second period - 8.   

JAMES RYAN: A man made for the hard yards, the second row sensation stuck to the task, channelling his energy into making his way metre-by-metre.  He did everything he could in every aspect of the game – 8. 

DEVIN TONER: The clever dummy-give to Luke McGrath drew the penalty for an early lead. The air is his domain, taking the first and second restarts with authority and backing it up with work rate – 7. 

SCOTT FARDY: The Wallaby’s technique caused Brad Barritt to give away a penalty in the shadow of the Blues posts. He stripped Maitland in the tackle and poached a crucial penalty on Koch. Yellow carded in the 59th minute - 8.    

SEAN O’BRIEN: This was the last hurrah to what amounts to a legendary career. The old explosiveness has been slowly replaced by the voice and the game knowledge to plug holes. Took a hammer blow to the back from Skelton. Never stopped working – 6.

JACK CONAN: The reputation is that of an athletic number eight with open country on his mind. He really knuckled down to crunch out the short, heavy yards that were a necessity and shirked nothing at close quarters - 8.

Replacements

James Tracey (51 mins) - 6

Jack McGrath (62 mins) - 6

Rhys Ruddock (63 mins) - 7

Michael Bent (70 mins) - 6

Max Deegan (74 mins) - 6

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