Sexton the puppeteer master as Molony shines
Relatively calm defensively compared to outstanding recent performances, largely due to Leinster’s dominance. Made an unusual fumble but, true to form, sent the 40,000 home even happier with a typically elegant last-minute try.
Could have put the slip-ups under Toulouse on a frantic start but opted to step in on Mattias Lebel’s tackle instead of going for the corner. A handful for the full 80 minutes.
Showed why there is no outer center to touch it, on this side of the equator at least. Big breaks, small breaks, grubbers and a center of gravity so low that at one point it seemed to be underground.
Leicester couldn’t handle their controlled fury and neither did Toulouse. His first charge caused so much damage that it guaranteed an invaluable seven points to soothe the nerves frayed by Dupont’s early strike.
Siege Pistol Left Boot, Rumbling Run, Defensive Power, and some stunts thrown in for good measure. Two more tries make it 18 of 19 for the season. One more in the final will tie Chris Ashton’s 11 for most in a single campaign.
The master puppeteer at his best, staging an exposition of how great players create great opportunities. Toulouse could barely touch him, let alone live with him. Would have been 10 out of 10 but for a slightly temperamental cross kick, aimed at a fleeing Lowe.
He learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to play fast and loose with his counterpart. Responded to the sight of Antoine Dupont disappearing into the distance with another high class performance.
He’s had more comfortable afternoons in set-piece trench warfare. I watched a scrum fall apart and looked dismayed when referee Karl Dickson slashed him for a penalty kick to another.
An accidental clash of heads forced him to an unstable exit for the mandatory test which he failed. It will be a real shame if it prevents him from finishing an impressive season in his first Champions Cup final.
Didn’t last long but long enough to deliver probably the most sumptuous pass ever attempted by a tighthead, a perfect 25 yards. Maybe the gods thought he was above himself, hence the hobbling out.
The only uncapped member of the starter pack but not for very long. Exceptional from set pieces and around the field, he delivered the crowning glory in the form of a majestic second down pass. Toulouse had been made like the proverbial kipper.
Not one of his most dominant matches but still more than enough. Hit tell-tale shots at critical moments, like stealing a Toulouse throw almost from the gripping fingers of the gigantic Rory Arnold.
Scything early break sent holders back in such disarray that their plight seemed beyond salvation. It would have been if the inside pass shot at Keenan had been a bit friendlier.
He wasted little time delivering his 12th try of the season, a try that took time after a heavy tackle. It was a way of letting Toulouse know they would return home without the trophy won at Twickenham this time last year.
His only embarrassing moment came ten minutes into the second half when Romain NTamack went down chasing his own grubber. The TMO searched for any sign of a trip, found none, Conan puffed out his cheeks and resumed his winning business.
Dan Sheehan, for Kelleher, 46 minutes: Immediate impact.
First-class in just about everything he did to avoid a lost cause, from defusing Sexton’s shelling to a sideline conversion. Melvin Jaminet needs to be a full-back to keep him out of the France squad.
Heroic attempt to save van der Flier’s try from being overturned by a panicked charge deep in his 22. Against ruthless opposition, there would be no escape from the try that left the incumbents 20 points behind and adrift.
Had its moments, but they were all too few and far between. Struggled valiantly but, like everyone else in his three-quarter line, suffered compared to his counterpart.
There was no shortage of effort, as a stunning tackle on Sexton nobly illustrated, all the more so taking the ball for good measure. Nothing came of it that characterized a visit to Dublin too many for the ex-champions.
He started with a try tackle on O’Brien and then spent most of his time fighting fires all over the pitch. I have to wonder what it’s like to be put in attack position with the ball in hand.
Had little choice but to spend way too much time watching the other No.10 run the show. Unlike Sexton, his kick never caused Leinster problems, let alone when he missed contact with a late penalty.
For once, unable to get his team out of a tight turn. Maybe he had used all his luck at Munster’s expense seven days earlier, but even a 90-yard try didn’t count for much in the end.
I came back late for a second stint, bouncing on and off potential tacklers like a pine ball. Big effort as usual on a day when his side failed to even make Leinster suffer for their scrum dominance after Furlong.
Taken aside three minutes into the game for a referee’s warning for three penalty fouls in quick succession. He didn’t need to be Nostradamus to suspect that the game would be over before long.
Made his presence felt in the scrum to find that Leinster were smart enough to avoid any crisis by getting the ball in and out straight away.
Avoided another Dublin Sin to be replaced within the hour. For all his power, he failed to do to the Leinster roster what he did to Ulster in the Round of 16.
A series of big tackles only delayed the inevitable of his team being engulfed by a blue tidal wave. Paid for his desperation with a yellow card.
Made Sexton’s job all the easier with a blast that brought the skipper’s third penalty even closer. Reprimanded by the referee, he kept his nose clean afterwards and was still there at the end.
Never able to match his performance against Munster the previous week. On top of everything else, Leinster’s organization is such that they have the ability to confine powerful players to the margins.
Too busy backing up to hold the barricades too long to lift even the occasional gallop in the opposite direction. After the Grand Slam in mid-March, it would have felt like a grand slam, which it was.
Iosefa ‘Joe’ Tekori, for Meafuo, 62 minutes: At 38, a strong end to a brilliant career.