Jack Conan and Dan Sheehan star as Leinster thump Toulouse to set up dream final
LEINSTER 41-22 TOULOUSE
Toulouse came out swinging but Leinster had the French side KO'ed with 15 minutes to go. Our full Leinster player ratings reflect the heroes, work-horses and odd few that fell below their usual impressive standards after a gripping encounter.
Ross Byrne put Leinster ahead with an early penalty, but Toulouse fired back with a sustained and slick attack that ended with Pita Ahk going over, out wide, for a try that Thomas Ramos converted. Byrne added another penalty, though, when Toulouse infringed at the breakdown.
The Toulouse tactic, in defence, seemed to be to concede penalties rather than tries when Leinster were looking dangerous. It did not pay off, though, when Thomas Ramos was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on. Leinster kicked for an attacking lineout then played through another advantage to score through Jack Conan, with Ross Byrne converting.
Less than five minutes later, and with Ramos still in the bin, Conan teamed up with Josh van der Flier and the No.8 had a nifty show and go before cantering over. Jimmy O'Brien had a try ruled out before Ramos restored Toulouse to 15 men but Dan Sheehan scored soon after the fullback's return. Emmanuel Meafou grabbed a try back before the break but it was Leinster's half. HALF-TIME: Leinster 27-14 Toulouse
Second Toulouse yellow costs them dearly
The second half saw Leinster have to dig deep to resist the early Toulouse flurry. They took the wind out of a few French attacks until conceding a scrum penalty, on 55 minutes, allowing Thomas Ramos to tag back three points.
Leinster were then given another big opening into the game when replacement prop Rodrigue Neti warded off Josh van der Flier with a head to his chin. Once again, Leinster made the man advantage count and they piled over with a rolling maul - van der Flier scoring.
Jason Jenkins came off the bench to finish off a flagging Toulouse and send a message to Exeter and La Rochelle ahead of Sunday's semi-final in Bordeaux.
OUR MAN OF THE MATCH: Dan Sheehan (Leinster)
LEINSTER PLAYER RATINGS
Hugo Keenan - 7
His mop-up work in defence is such an asset. Rarely flustered. Stripped Akhi in one tackle but was unlucky it went for a lineout. Able to stretch the legs in attack, in the second half.
Jordan Larmour - 6
Showed some nifty footwork but only for small gains. Scolded by Ross Byrne for not kicking up the pitch and backing himself to burst clear of his 22, only to get scragged.
Garry Ringrose - 7
One thumping tackle stopped a Toulouse attack dead in its' tracks. Mirrored his overall performance as his best contributions came in defence.
Charlie Ngatai - 8
Won his side a big breakdown penalty, midway through the half. Pinged a gem of a 50:22 just before the half-time break. Forced a big turnover inside the Leinster 22 with a crunching tackle.
Jimmy O'Brien - 7
Lost his footing when he tried to step inside, on one scoring chance. Had a try ruled out, in the corner, but kept putting his hand up for more. Great aerial take, just before half-time.
Ross Byrne - 8
His goal-kicking was flawless all the way through the match. Missed two tackles but stuck a few more important ones when Toulouse charged down his lane. This is his team now and the players responded well to his urgings. Distributed well.
Jamison Gibson-Park - 8
Three snipes and an offload thrown in, to keep Toulouse honest. A couple of box-kicks were not on the money but that's being picky. Was the puppet master and knew when to slow it down and speed it up.
Andrew Porter - 8
Not for the first time, we were looking at him thinking, 'Serious engine on that lad'. Scrummaged well and stuck some meaty tackles.
Dan Sheehan - 9
Solid throwing for the attacking lineouts that garnered Leinster scores then showed a super burst of pace for his side's third try. Showed those wheels again with a few covering tackles in defence.
Tadhg Furlong - 7.5
Big shift from the tighthead and he came in to sweep up when either Gibson-Park or Byrne were occupied. Very good for 50 minutes but started to flag before being replaced.
Ross Molony - 7
Solid, steady out from the big man. Nothing snazzy but won his side clean ball and disrupted Toulouse on a few occasions.
James Ryan - 8
Man on a mission. The captain was really putting himself about today - big hits and clear-outs set the tone. Jumped and dished excellently at the lineout.
Caelan Doris - 7
One of those game when he did the grunt work and freed up Conan to cut loose. Got about his business well, without any gasp-inducing moments.
Josh van der Flier - 8
Earned his side a crucial penalty when Toulouse went illegal to negate him at the breakdown. Teed up Conan then supplied support line for his teammate's second try. Was crunched with a yellow card mallet to the chin. Dusted himself off to score the game-clinching try.
Jack Conan - 9
Showed impressive strength for his first try, close in, before a lovely show and go for his second. Made 63 metres off 10 carries, all tallied in the first half. Stuck 15 tackles without missing one.
Jack Conan having fun out there
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 29, 2023
Ciaran Frawley (for Ngatai '53) - 7
Looked lively after coming on.
Jason Jenkins (for Molony '54) - 8
Crashed over for the dagger try.
Michael Ala'alatoa (for Furlong '60) - 6
Luke McGrath (for Gibson-Park '61) - 7
Ryan Baird (for Conan '65) - 6
John McKee (for Sheehan '67) - 6
Cian Healy (Andrew Porter '67) - 6
Harry Byrne (for Ross Byrne '70) - 6
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