Leinster player ratings: Leinster faced a hard fact this weekend: home clubs have a 76 per cent success rate from the 96 Champions Cup quarter-finals played to date.
The last time these two sides met was in the 2017/18 pool stage when Leinster won both matches before going on to lift the trophy in Bilbao and the men in blue once again proved they’re the fitter, more streetwise operators.
LEINSTER PLAYER RATINGS:
15. HUGO KEENAN – 7.5/10
Caught cold, falling off a tackle on Tom O’Flaherty in the third minute, although he seemed to exchange words with James Lowe in the aftermath. Was excellent after that, slipping offloads from unlikely angles and putting teammates away given the mere sniff of a chance.
14. JORDAN LARMOUR – 7.5
Another Leinster player who looked like he hadn’t got off the bus in the opening minutes, missing O’Flaherty for his second try after just nine minutes. His footwork shone but lapses under the high ball will haunt him. His finishing was first class however and it justified his selection ahead of the dependable Dave Kearney.
13. RORY O’LOUGHLIN – 7
A bit of a mixed bag from O’Loughlin, who contributed his share of missed tackles to Leinster’s brittle edge defence. On the other side of the ledger, showed what he when given half a yard of space to exploit. You had to smile when picked up the late intercept, having battled all day, and then frown, when it was disallowed.
12. ROBBIE HENSHAW – 8.5
A rusty start to preceding for Henshaw, chesting on an early ball from Lowe. His influence in the midfield warzone started to tell, with his physicality coming to the fore. His parcel tackle on Simmonds summed up his game. Everywhere, controlled and fierce.
11. JAMES LOWE – 8
The headlines of late have been about his defence but his attack did all the talking in this one. Bullocking runs had Chiefs defensive lines hitting the panic button and was good value for his try. At times he tries too hard to do it all and getting shunted out in the 55th minute was borderline criminal.
10. JOHNNY SEXTON – NA
Maybe the most at fault for the opening try, Sexton soon found himself in the thick of things and Leinster’s cogs began to turn. Looked distraught when taken off with for a HIA and he didn’t return.
9. LUKE MCGRATH – 7
Maybe overplayed his hand a little with the box kicking. An excellent snipe in the 52nd nearly opened the Chiefs up and did well under intense Chiefs’ pressure
1. CIAN HEALY – 6
Got into Exeter setpiece early and found some give.
2. RÓNAN KELLEHER – 8
In the loose Kelleher is an absolute animal; his all-court game a handful for any opposition. His lineout throwing matched his open field heroics too.
3. TADHG FURLONG – 7
You still feel the Wexford man is still trying to find his best form and this was a thoroughly respectable shift.
4. SCOTT FARDY – 7
So close to scoring a crucial bite back try and what felt at the time like an early turning point. Didn’t panic and got through plenty of unmentionable work thereafter.
5. DEVIN TONER – 7.5
Used the go-go Gadget arms to let Jack Maunder know he was there in the opening exchanges. Imperious in the lineout and had plenty of lovely little touches around the park. The veteran is playing great.
6. RHYS RUDDOCK – 7
His alpha-battle with the likes of Dave Ewers and Jacques Vermuelen was worth the proverbial price of admission. Exeter probably edged the tough stuff, but it went down to the judges’ scorecard, and Leinster’s superior fitness proved telling.
7. JOSH VAN DER FLIER – 8.5
A breakdown terrorist who continues to improve as a carrying option after surprising many with his proficiency in that area in the Six Nations. Tackled his face off and didn’t get out of Exeter’s.
8. JACK CONAN – 7.5
Maybe Ireland’s form back row gave as good as he got in a game that at times veered heavily into man-up-a-thon territory. Conan wasn’t found wanting.
17. ED BYRNE – 7.5
Did a number of Harry Williams in the final quarter.
22. ROSS BYRNE – 9
Shone after being thrown in the deep end. Took a big shot from Jonny Hill that could easily have been a cardable decision and another one later from Kirsten. Huge performance in the context of what was on the line. A quiet, assured presence whose decision-making is near faultless.
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