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Leinster ensures new champs will be crowned

MATCH REPORT: Leinster hammered two-time Champions Cup winners Stade Rochelais 40-13 on Saturday to claim a spot in the semifinals.

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Wing James Lowe scored twice for the Irish province in Dublin in a dominant display to set up a last-four game against Northampton or the Bulls.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

Two-time holders La Rochelle beat Leinster in classic finals in 2022 and 2023 but Leinster won earlier in the season in the group stages.

La Rochelle, coached by former Ireland and Munster flyhalf Ronan O’Gara, had spent the week training in Cork following last Saturday’s last-16 victory at the Stormers.

Leinster, who eased past Leicester to reach the quarterfinals, started youngster Ciaran Frawley at fullback after Hugo Keenan withdrew injured hours before kick-off.

The late change had little impact on Leo Cullen’s team. Leinster led 10-0 after 19 minutes as Lowe scored his first try and Ross Byrne added a conversion and a penalty.

Leinster extended their lead to 23-6 with scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park following Lowe over the whitewash. Byrne slotted a conversion and two penalties.

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Flyhalf Antoine Hastoy kicked two penalties for the visitors, who were a shadow of the side who won at the same ground in last May’s final.

O’Gara’s side kept slim hopes alive at a packed Lansdowne Road as prop Louis Penverne crashed over and Hastoy converted to make it 23-13 at half-time.

La Rochelle’s chances of victory were dashed by the 56th minute as the Irish side’s flanker Ryan Baird and hooker Dan Sheehan scored.

Lowe, 31, added his second with a quarter of an hour to play as Leinster eased into the next round as the tournament favourites.

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The scorers

For Leinster
Tries: Lowe 2, Gibson-Park, Baird, Sheehan
Cons: R Byrne 3
Pen: R Byrne 3

For Stade Rochelais
Try: Penverne
Con: Hastoy
Pens: Hastoy 2

Teams

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Jamie Osborne, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris (captain), 7 Will Connors, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Josh van der Flier.

La Rochelle: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 UJ Seuteni, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Antoine Hastoy, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Grégory Alldritt (captain), 7 Levani Botia, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Louis Penverne.
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Alexandre Kaddouri, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Paul Boudehent, 21 Yoan Tanga, 22 Teddy Iribaren, 23 Ihaia West.

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Andrew Jackson (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)

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