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Out of 10: How we rated Cullen's Leinster in their semi-final defeat of Toulouse

Johnny Sexton was man of the match, but there were some outstanding performances from those in blue at the Aviva.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS LEINSTER have marched into next month’s Heineken Champions Cup final with a brilliantly commanding victory over Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon. 

Our match report is available here, while below we take a closer look at the individual performances. 

Rob Kearney

7Our Rating

Another reminder of his enduring quality in the backfield after losing his place for the quarter-final. An assured presence throughout, but also looked to bring an added attacking dimension to his game, regularly running the ball back at Toulouse. 

6

Jordan Larmour

7Our Rating

Didn't see a whole lot of the ball but fronted up defensively any time questions were asked of him down the right, notably spinning to cover Ahki's grubber through before bundling Huget into touch when Leinster were stretched. Also put huge pressure on Kolbe to provide the platform for Leinster's third try. 

6

Garry Ringrose

8Our Rating

Defensively brilliant again, as evidenced by his intervention to deny Medard a certain second-half try at a crucial point in the contest. The Sexton-Henshaw-Ringrose axis is as classy as they come. 

6

Robbie Henshaw

8Our Rating

As if he was never away. Henshaw's best work came off the ball as he led the stoic Leinster defensive effort, consistently putting his body on the line for the cause and shooting up to put Toulouse's game-changers under huge pressure. Was sin-binned in the first half for a deliberate knock on, but alongside Ringrose was outstanding. 

6

James Lowe

8Our Rating

You'll find very few other wingers who can finish like this man can. Back in the European team for the first time since December, Lowe demonstrated his big-game quality with a superb score in the far corner, showing power and dexterity to get it down after a breathless Leinster move. The Kiwi now has 20 tries in just 27 appearances in blue. Not quite sure how he can be left out for Newcastle. Box-office.

6

Johnny Sexton

9Our Rating

Johnny's back. A commanding and influential display in his first game since Cardiff and first appearance for Leinster this calendar year. The out-half was at the heart of everything good about Leo Cullen's side, producing moments of outstanding quality at key junctures to keep the dream of a fifth star alive. See his strong carry in the build-up to Lowe's try, or the grubber through and looping skip pass for Fardy's second-half score. Kicked 12 points off the tee. Man of the match. 

6

Luke McGrath

7Our Rating

Appears to have finally shaken off a couple of frustrating injuries and is now back to his energetic and influential best. Crisp and quality service allowed Sexton pull the strings and the backline to hum, with the scrum-half applying the finishing touch to a powerful Leinster lineout maul in the opening 40. 

6

Cian Healy

8Our Rating

Another monstrous effort from the loosehead as Leinster's set-piece exerted dominance and the tight five got through Trojan work in the trenches. Replaced by Ed Byrne on the hour mark. 

6

Sean Cronin

6Our Rating

Industrious and hard-working as always in the loose before his afternoon was cut short on 33 minutes. Required treatment during yesterday's captain's run and didn't look overly comfortable as he limped off to be replaced by James Tracy. Leinster will pray it's nothing serious. 

6

Tadhg Furlong

8Our Rating

An utterly indispensable component of this Leinster unit, Furlong never fails to turn up on these big occasions. Made 11 carries and six tackles before earning a well-earned rest for Bent. 

6

Devin Toner

7Our Rating

A couple of rusty moments -- see a spilt lineout and the fumbled first-half restart -- but overall Toner's return was a major fillip, the Ireland international bringing a wealth of experience and leadership to the forward pack. The maul was a real weapon here, and the totemic lock was central to it. 

6

James Ryan

8Our Rating

A ball-carrying, tackle machine. Relentlessly hammered into red shirts with 18 carries and 17 tackles. Peerless. 

6

Scott Fardy

8Our Rating

A more than able deputy for the bed-stricken Rhys Ruddock. Starred in the back row during the knockout stages of last year's competition and again produced a big shift at blindside. Took time out to get a cut stitched up and then announced his return to the action with his ninth Leinster try. 

6

Seán O'Brien

7Our Rating

His best game in quite some time as O'Brien carried hard and tackled harder against a gigantic Toulouse pack. A return to form and fitness is a timely boost for Leinster with JVDF and Dan Leavy crocked. 

6

Jack Conan

8Our Rating

Was on it from the off, Conan's rich vein of form continued in eye-catching fashion here. Superb footwork, excellent hands, an alternative lineout option and an unrelenting reservoir of energy, the number eight must surely be putting CJ Stander's position under serious pressure. Nine carries, 18 tackles.

 

6

Replacements: 

James Tracy

6Our Rating

On earlier than expected for Cronin but ensured there was no let up in Leinster's intensity or superiority at scrum time.  

6

Ed Byrne

6Our Rating

Byrne has overtaken the Ulster-bound Jack McGrath in the loosehead pecking order, and this was another important layer of experience for the Carlow native off the bench. Has had an excellent season. 

6

Michael Bent

6Our Rating

A first European involvement of the campaign after Andrew Porter pulled up during the week. Came on for Furlong after 65 minutes.

6

Caelan Doris

6Our Rating

A late call-up to the bench and came on for the final two minutes for his European debut. 

6

Max Deegan

6Our Rating

Got a brief taste of the action when Fardy required running repairs and then returned later in the contest. 

6

Hugh O'Sullivan

6Our Rating

Replaced McGrath at the death for his second Champions Cup appearance.

6

Ross Byrne

6Our Rating

The hero of the quarter-final win over Ulster, Byrne replaced Sexton with 15 minutes to go to see Leinster over the line. Knocked over a penalty to stretch the home side's lead. 

6

Rory O'Loughlin

6Our Rating

Has been excellent all campaign and was unlucky to miss out on a starting place here. A late introduction with the game won. 

6

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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