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Leinster v La Rochelle: How the players rated at the Aviva

Several outstanding performances from the backline as Leinster blew their opponents away

15 Ciarán Frawley: A late replacement for Hugo Keenan when the Irish fullback failed to recover from a hip injury, he played with impressive composure. A perfect example in cleverly opting to attack down the short-side in the build-up to the Jamison Gibson-Park try. Rating: 8

14 Jordan Larmour: A very bright opening to the game in which he looked sharp, and one great turnover at a ruck in his 22 was an example of a less orthodox contribution. Excellent in the build-up to James Lowe’s try, he took ball into contact with purpose and concentrated well in defence. Rating: 8

13 Robbie Henshaw: Used his footwork to find softer shoulders in winning several collisions on the gain-line and got off the line quickly in defence to try to harass the La Rochelle midfield. Great hands in the preamble to Ryan Baird’s try. Delightful cross-kick for Lowe’s second try. Rating: 9.

12 Jamie Osborne: Got an early reminder when stepped by UJ Seuteni of the less-haste-more-speed maxim but then produced a display of impressive maturity and focus, while also excelling as a left-footed kicking option. Rating: 8


11 James Lowe: Kicked well, won the important turnover in the build-up to his try, while his no-look, flicked offload for Gibson-Park was a beauty. Ran himself into the ground on behalf of his team in another high-quality contribution. Rating: 9

10 Ross Byrne: A brilliant performance. Superb game management, distribution, placekicking, his decision-making was first class in the main and he kept his team in the right part of the pitch. Several shots off the tee were far from easy but he stuck the ball beautifully. Rating: 9

9 Jamison Gibson-Park: Standing ovation on 72-minutes recognised another towering performance that ironically started with a couple of missteps. Varied the play nicely at the attacking hub, played with vision, covered brilliantly and ran his excellent support lines, highlighted in his try. Rating: 9.

1 Andrew Porter: An understated yet highly effective display. Won a crucial ruck penalty at the start of the second half, had a share in another one that the Leinster scrum won and cleared out with authority to protect Leinster’s breakdown and ensure quick ruck ball. Rating: 8

2 Dan Sheehan: Grew into the game to unleash his typically high-octane carries. Sharp in charging down Tawera Kerr Barlow and capped a fine display with a trademark try, gliding over in the corner. Rating: 8.

3 Tadhg Furlong: Outstanding display, reminiscent of vintage days. Signalled his intent with two huge tackles on Will Skelton and then Ultan Dillane driving the pair back several metres. Linked play nicely from time to time, evident in the build-up to Ryan Baird’s try. Rating: 9

4 Joe McCarthy: A crucial maul steal in Leinster 22 announced his arrival into the game and thereafter he set about making his physical presence on both sides of the ball. Shipped a couple of heavy tackles but it didn’t cost him a moment’s hesitation. Rating: 8

5 Jason Jenkins: Although he conceded a couple of penalties at rucks, he more than compensated with the power of his carrying, the clearing out at rucks and the aggression in the tackle. Justified the decision to start him. Rating: 8.

6 Ryan Baird: Superb in all facets of the game, not least aerobically and athletically, he covered every millimetre of turf, ran the lineout with aplomb, took responsibility for restarts and harried and hassled La Rochelle players to distraction, his try a fitting reward. Rating: 9.

7 Will Connors: One of his primary attributes is his “chop tackling” and he embraced those duties with relish, working hard to plug gaps and ensuring that La Rochelle’s big ball-carrier ended up on the turf. Rating: 8.

8 Caelan Doris: A couple of penalties at rucks, one very harsh/incorrect, but when Leinster needed someone to carry, slow static ball, he was generally at the front of the queue. Footwork is just one of the qualities that sets him apart. Led the team in every respect. Rating: 8

Replacements: They added energy and enthusiasm and ensured that the home side were able to see out the game in a responsible manner. A few scrum issues aside, they collectively continued the work of those they replaced, Josh van der Flier, a standout. Rating: 7

Coach: Leo Cullen should be very pleased and deserves credit along with the coaching team for devising a game-plan and ensuring that the players bought into it. Even Hugo Keenan’s late withdrawal did not disrupt the focus. Rating: 8

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer