Leinster v Ulster player ratings: Ryan Baird shines as Leo Cullen’s Blues march on

Ryan Baird of Leinster during the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 match between Leinster and Ulster at Aviva Stadium

Ruaidhri O'Connor


15 - Hugo Keenan 7

A lesser-spotted handling error early on might have spooked him, but he didn’t put another foot wrong on a quiet enough outing.

14 - Jordan Larmour 7

Conceded a cheap early pen, but won a big high ball over Stockdale soon after and was generally tidy on a day where he wasn’t too involved.

13 – Jimmy O’Brien 7

Wasn’t much of an opportunity to show his wares, but the Kildare native was tidy in everything he did and didn’t put a foot wrong.

12 – Robbie Henshaw 7

Easing himself back to full fitness, he edged his battle with McCloskey without really ever threatening to cut loose. Hard carries and big hits were enough.

11 – James Lowe 7

A day for the famed left-boot, Lowe was aggressive in contact and smart when he needed to be without ever really getting his attack going.

10 – Ross Byrne 7

Tactically canny, the out-half knew it wasn’t a day to push the boat out and he guided his team around with maximum efficiency with some solid goal-kicking to boot.

9 – Jamison Gibson-Park 8

Took his try brilliantly, but his kicking-game really caught the eye as he pulled the Ulster back-field into positions they didn’t want to be in. An all-weather option.

1 - Andrew Porter 8

Brought his usual quotient of well-channelled aggression and must be a nightmare to play against. Coughed up a pen at maul-time, but otherwise excellent and wouldn’t be stopped for his try.

2 – Dan Sheehan 8

Quieter than his last day at Lansdowne Road, but still efficient in everything he did and abrasive in contact. Work out of touch excellent on a tough day.

3 – Tadhg Furlong 8

A day for the more old-fashioned elements of tighthead play and he relished the task. Two scrum penalties went his way, he was big in contact.

4 – Ross Molony 8

The best uncapped player in Ireland, he was a class apart here in running the lineout, making his contacts count and with his passing game.

5 – James Ryan 8

The Leinster skipper carried his Six Nations form through with a dominant performance in the air and in contact. At the top of his game.

6 – Ryan Baird 9

The stand out player on the pitch, Baird showed all his pace and power for his 20th minute try while his breakdown penalty early in the second-half was a big moment. He was everywhere.

7 – Josh van der Flier 8

Rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in at the breakdown, piling into Ulster rucks to slow down ball and tackling everything that moved before coming off with an ankle injury.

8 – Jack Conan 8

The biggest compliment you could pay him is that Leinster didn’t miss Caelan Doris one bit. This was a big shift from the Lions No 8 who’ll want the jersey next week.

Bench Impact

The result was effectively beyond doubt when they were introduced, but none of them looked out of place. Scott Penny (7) was prominent around the park, before Michael Ala’alatoa (6), Jason Jenkins (6), Luke McGrath (6), European debutant John McKee (6), Cian Healy (6), Harry Byrne and Ciaran Frawley (neither on long enough to rate) finished the job.

Coach: Leo Cullen 8

It was a simple, but devastatingly effective gameplan from the Leinster supremo whose superior pack made their mark.


15 – Mike Lowry 4

Leinster targeted Lowry without mercy from the first kick-off and got some big rewards from their bombardment. Kept trying, but couldn’t break free.

14 – Robert Baloucoune 4

He must have drawn the curtains and greeted the rain with dread. Ulster needed to get the ball in his hands, but the conditions rendered him a spectator.

13 – James Hume 5

Starved of ball, he took his try brilliantly in difficult conditions and was unlucky to be sent to the sin-bin for an accumulation of team offences.

12 – Stuart McCloskey 5

Always a key figure for Ulster, he gave everything to the cause but was guilty of chasing things a little for his team.

11 – Jacob Stockdale 5

Quiet start, but he played his way into it and his second high-catch was a pivotal moment. However, he couldn’t build on that moment and faded.

10 – Billy Burns 4

Too peripheral a figure for a team with big ambitions. His cross-kick to Hume showed his skills, but he didn’t have much of an influence.

9 – Nathan Doak 5

Leinster did their best to make it a difficult day at the office and his kicking didn’t reap as much reward as Gibson-Park’s in blue. Made one of his two goal-kicks.

1 – Rory Sutherland 5

Involved in the physical stuff and more than willing to front-up against Leinster, but he’ll rue the 18th minute scrum penalty that led to Leinster’s try.

2 – Rob Herring 5

Always willing and works tirelessly and did some clever work in defence, but was largely powerless to stop the Leinster supremacy. Worked his try well from the maul.

3 – Tom O’Toole 3

Early prominence in contact, but the Ireland prop was loose with his discipline and that put his team under huge pressure. Hooked at half-time.

4 – Alan O’Connor 4

Like all of the Ulster pack, O’Connor was part of a beaten pack and he could have little influence on proceedings.

5 – Kieran Treadwell 4

Didn’t do his Irish prospects much good as he was dominated by the uncapped Molony. Ulster missed Iain Henderson badly.

6 – Dave McCann 4

Big hit early on, but his missed tackle on Baird for the try will haunt him. Coughed up a maul penalty and was gone six minutes after the break.

7 – Nick Timoney 4

Willing as ever, but in a beaten pack he struggled to lay a glove on Leinster’s breakdown or have an impact in contact.

8 – Duane Vermeulen 4

The World Cup winner has looked past his best at times this season and he was off the pace and unable to have an impact here.

Bench Impact

Harry Sheridan (6) came on and threw himself at Leinster bodies, but ultimately got too keen and was lucky to see yellow. Jeff Toomaga Allen (4) couldn’t change the narrative at scrum-time, 0John Cooney (5) was chasing and mistakes followed. Tom Stewart was on and off again injured, while Marcus Rea, Stewart Moore and Ben Moxham were on after the game was done.

Coach: Dan McFarland 4

If they were going to knock Leinster out they needed more than this. Ulster’s attack brought nothing to the party, while by the time they got their maul moving it was too late.