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Leinster player ratings vs Toulouse | 2023/24 Champions Cup final

By Liam Heagney
Ciaran Frawley looks dejected with his Leinster teammates (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leinster player ratings live from Tottenham Stadium: A fifth star on their shirt or confirmation that they are the Spurs of rugby following a third successive defeat in the Champions Cup final. That was the bottom line facing Leinster in London on Saturday afternoon in this Investec-sponsored decider.

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In the end, the latter outcome cruelly transpired, the Irish province frustratingly surrendering 31-22 after a manic extra-time session had followed a 15-all normal time deadlock that was bereft of a try.

They sadly can only blame themselves. Too many penalties were kicked to the corner for non-materialising tries and not at the posts for booted points in normal time.

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Eben Etzebeth on where the Challenge Cup victory ranks in his list of achievements

Sharks superstar Eben Etzebeth says his team left their “best performance for last” in what was a very challenging season

That strategy left them behind on the scoreboard for 42, seven, and a second seven-minute spell during a regulation 80 where they only levelled the match for the third time on 78 minutes and then saw sub Ciaran Frawley pull a last-gasp drop goal for the win left and wide.

Next came extra-time and a far looser contest. Leinster looked dead and buried when James Lowe’s yellow for a deliberate knock-on resulted in Toulouse scoring the opening try 108 seconds later.

Fixture
Investec Champions Cup
Leinster
22 - 31
Full-time
Toulouse
All Stats and Data

The French stretched that advantage to 10 points and were poised to make it 13 with Thomas Ramos on the kicking tee only for referee Matthew Carley to instead red card Rory Arnold for clattering the head of Cian Healy.

That led to the opening extra-time period lasting into its 14th minute and only ending after Lowe returned and Josh van der Flier had grabbed a converted try to leave the break time score just 25-22 to Toulouse.

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The cup was now very much there for Leinster’s taking in the second period but they inexplicably wilted, getting bottled up at the rucks where Caelan Doris and Healy infringed to allow Ramos kick the decisive points. Here are the Leinster player ratings:

15. Hugo Keenan – 6
One of three changes to the starting line-up from the semi-final, there was early rust evident in an uncharacteristic spill in the opposition 22. But he doggedly stuck at it, his enthusiasm in fighting tooth and nail for his team clear in the knock-on he fired late in the second half when chasing a kick with Leinster three points down.

14. Jordan Larmour – 6
Deserved his start and while his involvement for an age was strictly limited, he will be remembered for doing enough to faintly shunt Matthis Lebel into touch when he thought he had scored after catching a 69th-minute crosskick. That was gutsy as he had pranged his shoulder only moments earlier on halfway. Unfortunately, couldn’t shut the gate in the third minute of extra time with Lebel exposing the numerical advantage of the Lowe sin-binning.

13. Robbie Henshaw – 7
Took 24 minutes to come alive. However, while his smashing break was excellent, he was penalised for a no-release due to a lack of breakdown support. No bother. He continued to leap into the contest and was one of Leinster’s leading backs.

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12. Jamie Osborne – 6
The biggest day in the youngster’s career got off to a troubling start with involvement in the two penalties that enabled Blair Kinghorn to put Toulouse six -points clear. He settled after that and did much better. However, the longer the final went on the more the injured Garry Ringrose was missed.

11. James Lowe – 2
Everything he did in normal time, including decking Kinghorn to score a try that referee Carley ruled out for an infringement elsewhere was inspiring, was wiped out by that one-handed flap at an Antoine Dupont pass that saw his sin-binned one minute and 10 seconds into extra time. Leinster gave up 10 points in his absence.

10. Ross Byrne – 5
Hh has never been and will never be a like-for-like replacement for the now-retired Johnny Sexton but the best version of Ross Byrne didn’t materialise here. He tried to mix things up with a variety of kicks and some quick passing – one first-half cross-kick that teased Dan Sheehan near the try-line was lovely – but there were too many ineffective involvements and he limped off on 70 minutes.

9. Jamison Gibson-Park – 6.5
The regular beating heart of the Leinster attack showed defensive prowess just over a minute into the decider by managing to get Dupont’s foot into touch to scrub out a try. His energy playing away from the breakdown helped Leinster to fight their way into extra time but he ultimately didn’t have the nous to eclipse his opposite number and produce the game-tilting moment.

Andrew Porter – 7
His scrum collapse allowed Kinghorn to put Toulouse 9-3 ahead but he stuck at it and it was his set-piece penalty involvement that invited Frawley to tie the scores and take it to extra time. He only exited after an exhausting 88 minutes and even then he reappeared for another few minutes as Healy required a HIA.

2. Dan Sheehan – 6.5
He had the stadium on its feet with his lung-bursting break from his own half on 29 minutes after he picked off Dupont. Agonisingly had no support when it came to the ensuing breakdown when tackled five metres out. Ran a generally decent lineout across his 70 minutes.

3. Tadhg Furlong – 6
Lasted 70, the same as his hooker, but it was a right old slog with loads of unappreciated grunt work.

4. Joe McCarthy – 7
Thought he had a 15th-minute try but Jason Jenkins had softly knocked on and it was immediately ruled out. His athleticism shone through on several occasions, but it wasn’t enough to tire out Toulouse.

5. Jason Jenkins – 4
Surprise inclusion ahead of fit-again James Ryan, there were questions over whether he was the best fit for the job. He didn’t shy away from the collisions but his hands on the ball weren’t precise and the pain felt when upended left him limping down the tunnel at the interval and not returning for the second half. His selection was a gamble that really didn’t work.

6. Ryan Baird – 6.5
Brought an all-court game that included one kicked clearance in the opening half while he was also at the heart of a number of momentum-swinging interventions that kept Leinster alive during the hour that he played before giving way to Jack Conan.

7. Will Connors – 6.5
Picked ahead of van der Flier, the 2022 World Rugby player of the year, the chopper was leading his team’s tackle count when he was hooked on 45 minutes. Did his bit defensively in the arm-wrestle breakdown to keep them in the fight.

8. Caelan Doris – 6.5
A collision with Romain Ntamack was important in getting Leinster to settle after a shaky opening but the skipper’s persistence with allowing penalties go to touch in the 22 and not at the posts will feature in the post-mortem. His punished infringement then gave Toulouse their winning impetus in the second half of extra time.

Replacements:
Leinster went with a six/two forwards/backs split on their bench compared to Toulouse but their bomb squad tactic didn’t bring a match-winning reward even though there was an extra time try for van der Flier while Michael Ala’alatoa also did well in the 10-minute period that forced the normal time draw. Sadly, the missed drop goal to win the game will haunt Frawley.

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Comments

5 Comments
m
matt 24 days ago

JVDF deserves a rating, he was great.

Felt Sheenan could have done a bit better and drawn the cover and passed to Osbourne in support. Would have required him to slow and draw which seems to be a lost art.

Henshaw was very good but 7 is fair. I thought he started strong.

B
Bryan 24 days ago

Think 9 would be more appropriate for Porter. Incredible display, won penalty after penalty at the scrum and never even looked tired at 80 minutes.

B
Bull Shark 24 days ago

Well that settles it. AD-P made JGP look positively AVE.

And a very generous 2 for Top Knot.

c
craig 24 days ago

KINGS OF CHOKE

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