Leinster will defend their European Champions Cup title against Saracens after claiming a 30-12 semi-final victory over Toulouse in Dublin on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was a clinical performance from the champions against a Toulouse side that saw plenty of territory but struggled to make their chances count and could not get that crucial try, with all their points coming from penalties.
Leinster should be applauded for the way they saw out wave after wave of Toulouse attack, but will know that a tougher tactical challenge will come from Saracens, who were too good for Munster in the first semi-final.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring through a penalty from Thomas Ramos, but Leinster took control of the game from there, scoring two tries through wing James Lowe and Luke McGrath to go 17-6 up at half-time.
First, Leinster were able to exploit an overlap to release Lowe out wide, with the New Zealander beating two defenders and diving over the line. Toulouse then received a blow when top tackler Richie Grey was yellow-carded, and it was no coincidence that Leinster extended their lead minutes later when McGrath went over from a powerful driving maul.
The second half also started with a Ramos penalty, which narrowed the deficit to eight points. However, Leinster once again extended their lead when after five minutes of sustained pressure, the ball was sent wide to Scott Fardy and the Australian powered past his tackler to score their third.
Toulouse centre Romain Ntamack and Leinster flyhalf Johnny Sexton exchanged penalties, with Sexton’s replacement Ross Byrne slotting his first of the day to complete the win.
Leinster – Tries: James Lowe, Luke McGrath, Scott Fardy. Conversions: Johnathan Sexton (3). Penalties: Sexton (2), Ross Byrne.
Toulouse – Penalties: Thomas Ramos (3), Romain Ntamack.
Leinster – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c) 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Seán O’Brien, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Cian Healy
Subs: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Caelan Doris, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Rory O’Loughlin.
Toulouse – 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Antoine Dupont, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Jerome Kaino (c), 7 Joe Tekori, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Clément Castets
Subs: 16 Guillaume Marchand, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Maks Van Dyk, 19 Selevasio Tolofua, 20 Piula Faasalele, 21 Francois Cros, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Maxime Médard.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images