Leinster vs La Rochelle: Player ratings

How both sides fared as Leinster’s quest for a fifth European crown comes up short

Leinster


15. Hugo Keenan

Deft feet to dance out of trouble deep in his own 22 after being fed a hospital pass from Sexton but his support still gave away the penalty. Unable to get into a distribution role and was left for dead by Rhule for his try, albeit anyone would be in that situation. Rating: 5


14. Jimmy O’Brien

Try-saving tackle on Bourgarit and also managed to drive Alldritt into touch. A number of clever kicks in behind, including one ridiculous effort almost as soon as he caught it under pressure. Competitive in the air and involved in one of Leinster’s few wide breaks. Rating: 7


13. Garry Ringrose

Some good carries on first phase but not allowed to open up holes in the face of La Rochelle’s line speed. Scrambled well with defensive reads in the wide channels in the first half. Rating: 6


12. Robbie Henshaw

Absorbed a brutal shot from Danty but was a rare source of go-forward the few times he carried. Chop-tackle on an onrushing Skelton summed up a good defensive display. Rating: 6


11. James Lowe

Kicked cleverly to grass inside the La Rochelle 22 but unable to come in off his wing and have his usual effect in the carry. Rating: 5


10. Johnny Sexton

Kicked his points but received virtually no playmaking support either outside him or from forward tip-ons. Some passes thrown behind runners when pressured by unrelenting line speed. Rating: 5


9. Jamison Gibson-Park

Not given the quick, clean ball to which he is accustomed. Coughed up possession on occasion when caught behind the ruck by defenders. Rating: 5


1. Andrew Porter

Under constant pressure at the scrum. Unable to effect the game in the loose either with his dynamism on the ball or breakdown threat. Big defensive shift with 14 tackles. Rating: 5


2. Rónan Kelleher

Forced off after 15 minutes by an apparent arm injury. Must have impacted a shanked lineout throw. One strong carry deep inside the La Rochelle 22. Rating: N/A


3. Tadhg Furlong

Also forced to work desperately hard come scrum time. Lacked his usual deft touches when pulling the ball back to trail runners. Rating: 4


4. Ross Molony

Significant role in a lineout maul that dominated for the first hour of the game. On the side of the scrum that struggled against the Atonio-Skelton axis. Rating: 5


5. James Ryan

Massive defensive effort with 19 tackles. Controlled Skelton well with a number of chop-tackles. “I need you Cheese” was the call to him from Furlong before a second-half scrum but was part of the struggling set-piece. Rating: 6


6. Caelan Doris

Cannot fault the defensive performance. Up there with Ryan in terms of work-rate on that side of the ball. Often asked to carry into a swarming wall of white jerseys but was offered a rare source of go-forward. Rating: 7


7. Josh van der Flier

By far and away Leinster’s best performer. 23 tackles in a display that continues to show his appetite for work. A number of quality clear-outs on Alldritt et al that prevented a messy breakdown situation from becoming a complete disaster. A performance that secured him European player of the year even though he came out on the losing side. Rating: 9


8. Jack Conan

Another with a big defensive workload; 16 tackles with most coming during that last stand in vain. Kept quiet with ball in hand since the ball did not get its way to his position in the wide channels. Rating: 5


Bench

Dan Sheehan once again forced into a mammoth shift against a French side. Some faulty lineouts though there were memorable defensive shots. Rhys Ruddock ended up in the top five of Leinster’s tackle-count: defensive work-rate was not an issue for anyone. Ross Byrne slotted his kick but handling errors — some from unsympathetic passes — do stand out. Cian Healy and Michael Ala’alatoa prevented a disaster at the scrum while still giving away some penalties. Joe McCarthy and Luke McGrath on too late to make an effect, though if Retiere did not score McCarthy would have sen yellow for a side-entry. Ciarán Frawley unused. No game-changing impact. Rating: 4


Coaching Staff

At times a willingness to kick over the onrushing defensive line displayed some sort of attacking plan B, but this wasn’t utilised enough. Clearly identified a La Rochelle weakness both at the maul and in terms of discipline while ability to instil defensive work-rate was good. Overall, the failure of the competition’s best attacking side to record a try suggests that backup plans were not sufficient. Rating: 5


La Rochelle


15. Brice Dulin

Fortunate to see mad decision not to kick that saw him caught behind his own try-line result only in three points. Quiet in attack but solid backfield coverage. Rating: 5


14. Dillyn Leyds

Supreme in the first half, couldn’t keep it up in the second. Desire to come in off his wing to look for work, draw multiple defenders and then offload created one try and nearly forced a second. Rating: 8


13. Jeremy Sinzelle

Threw one beautiful wide pass in the first half to space but could not get another try-scoring effort away in the face of Gibson-Park pressure. Victim of the second half forwards-only attacking strategy. Rating: 5


12. Jonathan Danty

Errors when in possession but always a carrying threat on first phase, particularly when knocking Sexton back in the second half. Limped off before the final attack. Rating: 6


11. Raymond Rhule

Constant threat on the ball. Made a good defender look foolish with his speed when burning past Keenan for his try. Arcing runs off 10 when coming from his wing a stark contrast to Leinster’s lack of threat from wide men. Rating: 9


10. Ihaia West

You suspected he would kick all his goals when so many questioned his form off the tee, and he did just that. One poorly placed pass into Atonio’s decoy blemished an otherwise solid distributing game, albeit not a lot was asked of him in attack. Rating: 6


9. Thomas Berjon

One pinpoint box-kick allowed the chase to put Keenan into touch, while his service was quick when given clean breakdown ball by his forwards. Solid if unspectacular. Rating: 6


1. Danny Priso

Coaching staff clearly know his fitness levels well, but surely in a final you let him run loose for longer than 53 minutes? Work-rate off the charts: breakdown-tormentor in-chief, part of a dominant scrum and even nearly charged down Gibson-Park off a kick-off. Rating: 9


2. Pierre Bourgarit

Another breakdown menace, securing a penalty after a Keenan break that denied a try-scoring chance. Rewarded for his work around the park with a rolling-maul score. Rating: 8


3. Uini Atonio

Plaudits for role in the scrum but he was quiet away from the set-piece. Lazy line when tired blocked a West ball out the back, denying an overlap opportunity. Rating: 5


4. Thomas Lavault

Stupid trip on Gibson-Park could well have cost his side, did not return for the closing stages when the yellow card expired. Unable to halt Leinster’s attacking maul in the first hour. Rating: 4


5. Will Skelton

Mammoth effort to last the full 80 given how little rugby he has played of late. His value showed with the metres he made in the last attack. Otherwise marshalled well by Leinster’s chop-tackle technique on him, something which also prevented his offloading game. Rating: 6


6. Wiaan Liebenberg

Made up for early ill-discipline with a jackal penalty inside his own half. Led the defensive effort with 13 tackles. Rating: 6


7. Matthias Haddad

10 minutes off for a HIA stunted his impact. Another called on for a big tackle shift given the breakdown threats elsewhere in this line-up. Rating: 5


8. Gregory Alldritt

Not his usual self in terms of metres made or breakdown turnovers, but the fact that Leinster had to sacrifice so many attackers to deal with him every time he stuck his head in a ruck was still valuable. Rating: 7



Bench

Frontrow trio of Facundo Bosch, Reda Wardi, Joel Sclavi kept up the scrum pressure while Levani Botia’s carrying around the fringes at the death was relentless. Championship-winning score from Arthur Retiere. Rating: 7


Coaching Staff

Ronan O’Gara after the game said Leinster’s Connacht and Leicester wins gave him enough ammunition to work with in terms of his game plan. The plan to slow up the ball at the breakdown, swarm with a rapid line speed and dominate at the scrum was predictable, but unstoppable on the day. One concern will be the defensive maul. Still, O’Gara has achieved what he set out to do in bringing European glory to the port town. Rating: 8

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist