DES BERRY’S LEINSTER PLAYER RATINGS
It goes without saying that the Louth man is a big-game player. He was a source of calm when the ball came his way. More than that, there was total commitment to the high ball which caused Racing problems.
÷SEAN CRONIN 7 The lineout went well, by and large, and he got around the pitch in typically energetic fashion. This wasn’t a day for those barrelling charges in the open, but he came more into the game as it broke up.
÷JORDAN LARMOUR 7 He first kicked when he could have run in what appeared to be a tactic. He settled down with one of those fizzing bursts in amongst the big men and hammered Louis Dupichot, but never really got an opening.
The tight-head was never under considerable pressure at the scrum. Racing knew better than to come down his channel, which removed his opportunities to land the big hits. Couldn’t get on the ball often enough.
÷GARRY RINGROSE The early high tackle on Virimi Vakatawa was an uncharacteristic error against a bigger man. He didn’t get ruffled and grew into his role in defence, making a fantastic late to draw a penalty.
÷DEVIN TONER Unfairly fingered for a lineout penalty on Donnacha Ryan. He trucked the ball up willingly and hammered out a big hit on Henry Chavancy when Racing threatened. More than adequate about the pitch.
An early misread allowed Racing to eat up the ground. He took two accidental high blows to the head, had his knee heavily strapped, and limped off at half-time. Just took those setbacks and kept on coming hard.
The best in blue. There were a number of early interventions that kept Leinster ticking over while they were under the pump. He was a primary lineout option and made the gainline most times.
The captain almost cracked Racing open from a lightning raid down the left. The tactic to kick ahead did not always work out, but he stepped up to kick the leveller and the winner in his last European Cup match.
÷SCOTT FARDY Leinster used the Wallaby in close and further out for his handy work. A penalty for a neck roll was costly to momentum, although he was clearly frustrated at referee Wayne Barnes’s interpretation of the ruck.
÷JONATHAN SEXTON 7 The downpour placed an even greater emphasis on control. He stood firm to earn a penalty turnover and almost created a try for Nacewa ahead of kicking three from five. A pinpoint flat pass put Ringrose through late on.
÷JORDI MURPHY There was precious little possession with which to use his fine lines of running in the early going. He just stuck to the script, recovering the first high ball on the restart, and battled away gamely.
÷LUKE McGRATH 7 The ankle and strapped right knee did not prevent the scrum-half from completing the basics and covering clearance kicks. Showed leadership and tested the fabric of Racing’s defence the fringes.
The brutal physicality was right up his alley and the flanker never shirked the responsibility to offer up his body. The spill of blood was par for the course. A big turnover at the ruck in the 69th minute was crucial.
The trenches were a dark and dirty place to be. The loose-head was a rock at the scrum and gave as good as he got everywhere else. He had just cranked out his best carry when replaced on 55 minutes.
÷COACH: LEO CULLEN 10 The best decision the coach made was to turn to Stuart Lancaster in a selfless act which led to some champagne rugby. But, in the end, it took the kind of grit Cullen specialised in as a player.