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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 7 March 2021

Ratings: We mark the Leinster and Ulster players out of 10

The pace was frantic and there were some superb individual performances but who did we rate as the game’s top dogs?

Leinster's Sean O'Brien hands off Craig Gilroy of Ulster.
Leinster's Sean O'Brien hands off Craig Gilroy of Ulster.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

IN THE END it was pretty comfortable for Leinster as they ran out 42-14 winners- a record score in a Heineken Cup Final.

Sean O’Brien got the official man-of-the-match award but there were plenty of heroes on the Twickenham pitch.

Here are our ratings for the match.


Rob Kearney – 8

Dominated in the air from the opening minutes and was a key figure in O’Brien’s first try. An attacking threat all day.

Fergus McFadden – 7

Did well on the wing and kept Gilroy quiet in the second half after being tested early on. Missed conversion late on but slotted a late score.

Brian O’Driscoll – 8

O’Driscoll was a force in the first half as he showed great hands and was always on hand with supporting runs. Did not want to miss being on the field for the closing stages.

Gordon D’Arcy – 7

A good day in the office for the bruised and battered D’Arcy. Denied a deserved score in the final five minutes. Great engine.

Isa Nacewa – 7

Quiet enough day for Nacewa on the wing but he once again combined well with Kearney and tackled with intensity.

Jonny Sexton – 8

Solid performance from Sexton and came back well after a poor early penalty. Superb wrap-around runs and clever passing.

Eoin Reddan – 8

His quick thinking as he arrived on the scene of an O’Brien break was rewarded when Healy crashed over for the second try.

Cian Healy – 8

Excellent score as he bashed through Trimble and Gilroy to record a crucial try. The front-row provided a solid platform all game.

Richardt Strauss – 7

The South African was magnificent in the loose and never lost his appetite for a tackle. Shaky throws improved as the game progressed.

Mike Ross – 7

John Afoa got the better of Ross twice but, for the most part, the prop impressed. Redemption at Twickenham.

Leo Cullen – 7

His scrambling defence was needed as Ulster pressed in the opening stages. Came to the fore as Leinster sucked the life out of the Ulster attack.

Brad Thorn – 8

The 37-year-old put in a full 80-minute shift and can return to New Zealand with another medal for the creaking cabinet.

Kevin McLaughlin – 7

Was constantly chipping away at Ulster’s runners in the opening stages. He did the dirty work that gave O’Brien freedom to roam.

Sean O’Brien – 9

Came out on top in his duel with Stephen Ferris, scored a try and set up Cronin. They were the headlines but the whole story reads – Excellent.

Jamie Heaslip – 7

Became Strauss’ go-to jumper in the back and middle of the line-out. Kept his side’s focus throughout and carried well.


Sean Cronin – 8

Great impact as he scored one and set-up another.

Heinke van der Merwe – 7

Scored a fine try at the end as he showed exceptional pace for a prop.

Devin Toner – 7

Replaced Cullen and looked lively.

Dave Kearney – 7

Eager for action when he came on.

Nathan White, Ian Madigan and John Cooney - not on long enough to rate.

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Stephen Ferris lost out in his personal battle with Sean O’Brien. (©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd)


Stefan Terblanche – 6

Strong tackling from Terblanche but he made a serious error with a sliced first-half clearance and blotted his copybook with a yellow card near the dearh.

Andrew Trimble – 5

His defence was suspect as he was knocked out of the way on more than one occasion, including Healy’s try. Brief flurries in attack and Jackson should have put him through for a try.

Darren Cave – 7

Cave and Gilroy were the best of Ulster’s backline. He made a 20-metre break that threatened a try but could not contain O’Driscoll as the game progressed.

Paddy Wallace – 6

Largely on the fringes of play but should great hands to set up Tuohy for his late try.

Craig Gilroy – 7

Ulster’s most dangerous player. He was a constant threat with the ball in hand and gave Nacewa a lot to think about. A bright future awaits the winger.

Paddy Jackson – 5

Little, if anything, went right for the young out-half. He was a peripheral figure in the first half but it all went wrong as he failed to send Trimble in for a try and skewed a drop goal attempt.

Ruan Pienaar – 7

A few decent penalties but shame he could not convert after the Touhy try and build pressure. Good kicking out of the hand.

Tom Court – 6

Hard to technically fault Court as the scrum did admirably but he was sloppy for the penalty try as he collapsed the rolling maul right under Nidel Owen’s nose.

Rory Best – 7

Line-outs were good all day and Best looked for work wherever he could find it. Not as damaging in the loose as usual.

John Afoa – 6

Won a penalty after good work in the scrum but gave up one at a crucial time for going off his feet in the tackle.

Johann Muller – 6

Muller was a great source of line-out ball but he could not exert himself on the game in the open.

Dan Tuohy – 8

The province’s best player even before he thundered over for a try. Was lively in the tackle and made a number of fine carries.

Stephen Ferris – 7

He lost out to Sean O’Brien in the battle of the world-class flankers. A few good takes and drives down the wing but he was powerless to change the course of the game.

Chris Henry – 7

Had a real battle with Heaslip and McLaughlin and stole some ball for his side. Gave it everything for 70 minutes.

Pedrie Wannenburg – 6

Was found wanting for O’Brien’s first-half try but battled gamely. Poor flick pass squandered possession after Ulster opted for a scrum rather than three points.


Nigel Brady – 6

Kept the scrum platform solid but offered little else as Ulster faded.

Ian Humphreys – 7

Brought some verve to the Ulster attack when he came on but was replaced after picking up a late knock.

Willie Faloon – 6

Replaced Henry but struggled to make an impact. Off to Connacht next season.

Paddy McAllister, Declan Fitzpatrick and Paul Marshall - Not on long enough to be rated.

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