WHILE SEAN O’BRIEN stole many of the headlines after his barnstorming display against the Ospreys last Saturday, it was the performance of Sean Cronin that will have pleased Matt O’Connor the most.
After the shocking news that Richardt Strauss will miss the remainder of the season due to a heart condition, Leinster needed Cronin to step up and show that he is equipped to take full control at hooker.
That’s exactly what the former Connacht and Munster man did, delivering what was possibly his best performance in a Leinster jersey since joining in 2011. Cronin was on target with 16 of his 17 lineout throws and carried the ball for a total of 55 metres. The fact that he made those gains in just six carries was even more impressive.
Cronin completed all 11 of his tackles to round out a superb outing, one which has been highlighted by the Amlin Opta Index. This officially licensed ERC ratings system ranks every single individual action on the pitch and then weights the relative importance of the action to come up with a total for every player.
As a result of that rather complicated process, Cronin has been highlighted as the leading forward over the entire European weekend. Oddly enough, O’Brien doesn’t make the cut and Cronin is actually the only Irish player to make the Opta Index Team of Round 1. The stats don’t lie.
Realistically, which other Irish players would you have picked in the team of the European weekend? Leinster had several strong performers, while Connacht and Ulster also impressed. Did Munster’s loss to Edinburgh feature any positive individual showings?