Toulon 25 Leinster 20: How the players rated

Gavin Cummiskey assesses the performances of both sets of players as Toulon reach yet another final

Steffon Armitage was the difference really. At least three textbook turnovers killed Leinster momentum.

Steffon Armitage was the difference really. At least three textbook turnovers killed Leinster momentum.

 

Rob Kearney 7/10

Three superb acts of high fielding gave Leinster the briefest glimpses of front foot ball but his long, long range drop goal with seconds remaining in normal time fell well short.

Fergus McFadden 6/10

Lucky not to gift a try to the offside Chris Masoe when fumbling wet ball off a Freddie Michalak garryowen. A disastrous season, and possibly the World Cup, appears to be over after breaking his arm again.

Ben Te’o 6/10

Kept it simple when bringing his physicality to bear as a secondary tackler but needs more time to learn the value of angled running rather than direct carries into similar sized men. Increasingly looks a good signing though.

Ian Madigan 5/10

One crazy pass away from being the hero, his lack of control at pivotal moments was all too evident again. Responsible for Bryan Habana’s intercept try and put three balls out on the full, including the kick-off, he did only miss one of six penalty attempts.

Luke Fitzgerald 6/10

The rating is more a reflection of Leinster tactics. Craved attacking opportunities but wasn’t offered a single moment to exploit Toulon out wide or even with a reverse pass coming from the blindside. Shame.

Jimmy Gopperth 6/10

Good charge down but missed a crucial drop goal and the conversion of Sean O’Brien’s try, which simply had to go over. Also coughed up a penalty for not rolling away that saw Halfpenny make it 12-9.

Isaac Boss 6/10

Some decent box kicking, aiming for the touchline to put Toulon’s lineout under pressure, Eoin Reddan’s arrival increased the pace of Leinster’s attack. But the pitch had dried up by then.

Cian Healy 7/10

70 minutes of ferocious resistance despite an early cheap shot by Bakkies Botha and plenty of attritional scrums, where he broke even with the great Carl Hayman. The ultimate compliment really.

Sean Cronin 8/10

Argument for keeping him on the field for at least 80 minutes, such was the increasing value of his carrying as the pitch firmed up. Maybe the punishment had taken its toll. His best ever season by some distance.

Mike Ross 7/10

Two early penalties, and a free kick, utterly justified his selection as the old warhorse gave Xavier Chiocci a scrum clinic. Perhaps left on for one engagement too many as Alexandre Meini did some damage.

Devin Toner 7/10

Unfairly underrated as a player as people find it difficult to shrug off the memory of him before 2012. Comparisons to Mal O’Kelly, Brad Thorn and even Nathan Hines will always exist but his legacy will be eventually be of some renown.

Mike McCarthy 7/10

Enormous physical resistance to allow others, like Jordi Murphy, perform more specific roles. One memorable choke tackle ably supported by Te’o earned an important penalty.

Second Captains

Jordi Murphy 8/10

Smashing, relentless, clever performance further emphasises his growth these past 12 months. A 90 minute contribution where he was a constant nuisance over the ball.

Sean O’Brien 8/10

At least two immense turnovers and the try, Leinster needed him to be the best forward on the field to secure victory. He was just that until Juan Smith was replaced by Steffon Armitage.

Jamie Heaslip (capt) 8/10

Technically phenomenal at the back of the scrum when under enormous strain, he led his team in a subtle manner, particularly the manner he communicated with Wayne Barnes. If there was something to be said the point was delivered properly.

Replacements 6/10

Not enough impact. Eoin Reddan’s distribution was noticeably quicker but the weather had changed while the frontrow won a scrum penalty but they hardly dominated.

Coach 7/10

The performance, if not any obvious tactical calls, should silence those prematurely calling for Matt O’Connor’s dismissal. Leinster have been cursed by injury this season. A vastly superior squad will be at his disposal in November.

Toulon

Leigh Halfpenny 8/10

Some decent fielding and positional excellence. Landing six from seven kicks saw him named man of the match - an award that surely belonged to a Toulon backrower?

Delon Armitage 6/10

Not a winger’s game, he looked to be playing injured which perhaps impacted on his lack of distance for that 80th minute long range penalty.

Mathieu Bastareaud 7/10

Well marked by Leinster’s defence, never generated enough head of steam to cause the expected damage, it was his work in defence and rucks that stood out.

Matt Giteau 7/10

Good but like so many well short of the expected greatness, even when switching to outhalf on 46 minutes as he dropped the first slippery ball he received.

Bryan Habana 7/10

Poor game and did his reputation no favours when asking Wayne Barnes to yellow card a Leinster player but he still proved the match winner when reading Madigan’s wild pass.

Frédéric Michalak 5/10

Inaccurate, struggled to bring any control to proceedings, playing far too deep and was understandably yanked off early in the first half. World Cup chances may have disappeared with him.

Sébastien Tillous-Borde 6/10

Unfussy player, allowing his experienced backrow to make the majority of decisions for him, he was one of a few players to increase his standards in extra-time.

Xavier Chiocci 5/10

Out scrummaged by Mike Ross, he claimed on at least one occasion that Sean O’Brien was boring into him but Wayne Barnes disagreed.

Guilhem Guirado 7/10

Unleashed his Keith Wod-esque pace a few times and only one genuinely poor lineout throw.

Carl Hayman 6/10

74 minutes of heavy lifting but Cian Healy can be proud of the scrummaging battle, the great All Black gets to end his career with another European final.

Bakkies Botha 7/10

Coughed up two penalties, the first avoiding a sin bin despite landing a shoulder on Cian Healy when miles offside, the second just a moment later for being blatantly offside again. Still no yellow.

Ali Williams 6/10

Hardly a dominant Toulon lineout, he coughed up three penalties, the third of which harshly earned him a yellow card. He didn’t seem to be intentionally taking Toner out in midair. Toner is just taller.

Juan Smith 7/10

Superb in all aspects of flanker play for 30 minutes before his knee went but Steffon Armitage’s impact was immediate and sustained.

Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe 8/10

A natural leader and brilliant contributor for Toulon when the stakes were at their highest. Brilliant hands almost created a try and solid lineout option.

Chris Masoe 8/10

Another massive contributor, he was forcing penalties over Leinster ball as he proved horrendously difficult to move when anywhere near the ball.

Replacements 9/10

Along with Habana’s intercept try, Steffon Armitage was the difference really. At least three textbook turnovers killed Leinster momentum. Levan Chilachava is also deserves a mention.

Coach 6/10

There doesn’t seem to be a Plan B. Helps that Plan A is so effective but Toulon were lucky here and Bernard Laporte didn’t bring too much to the party.

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