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Rated: We mark Leinster out of 10

It was difficult to find fault with Leinster as they put on an exhibition in the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Rob Kearney – 9

Laid on the first try, scored two more.

Simply put: he was everywhere. Time to get him measured for that Lions test shirt.

Isa Nacewa – 8

As dangerous as ever when given an inch to seek on the wing. Great inroads in the build up to Kearney’s second.

Brian O’Driscoll – 8

Forget the last two games, this is the reason he rushed himself back to fitness. For 70 minutes the soft hands were back for all to see and, as usual, he barely put a foot wrong in defence. Getting onto the end of Fitzgerald’s clean break was the icing on the cake and that score, after just 35 minutes, had Cardiff looking for their boarding pass.

Gordon D’Arcy – 7

Provided good foil for his illustrious long-term partner at centre. Allowed BOD to get out in the open while D’Arcy got his shoulder to the wheel at the breakdown. He is unrecognisable from the 12 who played for Ireland these past two months.

Luke Fitzgerald – 6

The break to feed BOD his score was the most postive way he can negotiate a new contract and also makes him a certainty for a seat on the plane to New Zealand (at the second time of asking). Replaced by Fergus McFadden after an hour.

Jonathan Sexton – 9

Imperfect on the placed ball, imperious when he had it in hand. More of this please, Jonathan.

Eoin Reddan – 8

Superb for the hour that he was on, dishing out the ball as quick as his pack produced it. As ever, his quick action on the whistle kept the Blues on their heels, his fantastic break in the first half paved the way for O’Driscoll’s heroic scoring return to the Heineken Cup.

Cian Healy – 8

When 13, 14 and 15 all get on the score-sheet forwards will never make headlines, but Healy helped lay the foundation for the onslaught by putting Scott Andrews firmly on the back foot. He was his usual bullocking self in open play, great burst to open Cardiff up before Nacewa’s opening try.

Leinster celebrate Rob Kearney’s try. / ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Richardt Strauss – 5

Line-out was the one area which was less than perfect for the holders and favourites for the Heineken Cup. None-the-less the South African was destructive in open play and solid in the scrum. Replaced by Sean Cronin after 52 minutes.

Mike Ross – 7

There was nothing but praise for Gethin Jenkins from Leinster this week, but he barely put a dent in the Ross edifice.

Leo Cullen – 7

Like Strauss, will take food for though on the performance of the line-out, but Leinster would not be happy unless they have something left to improve.

Brad Thorn – 7

These are the games he was signed to win and he did not disappoint. A timely turnover early in the second half when the Blues sought the beginning of an unlikely comeback.

Kevin McLaughlin – 6

Did all the work that was asked of him, but when a side is this dominant, the back rows  can be left short of a bit of work. Replaced after 50 minutes.

Sean O’Brien – 6

Quiet day for the Tullow Tank, disappointing given the gaps found in the Welsh defence. Schmidt moved him to the blindside to free him up as a runner and it worked a treat. He steamrolled Dan Parks and made a full 40 meters before the move broke down.

Jamie Heaslip – 7

Rating may well have been higher had Kearney passed left rather than right for the first try. Good support lines, always on the shoulder of his ball-carrier and got in the way of a certain try from Martyn Williams. Could have been expecting a big challenge from Xavier Rush, the All Black barely got a finger on him.

Replacements

Shane Jennings (replaced McLaughlin on 50 minutes.) - 4

Ssean Cronin (replaced Strauss on 52 minutes) -3

Devin Toner (replaced Thorn on 59 minutes) - 2

Fergus McFadden (replaced Fitzgerald on 59 minutes) – 4

Isaac Boss (replaced Reddan on 62 minutes) - 3

H van der Merwe, N White and  Ian Madigan: Not on long enough to be rated.

As it happened: Leinster v Cardiff, Heineken Cup

As it happened: Edinburgh v Toulouse. Heineken Cup

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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