Title-holders Leinster cruise to Cup final
REPORT: Title-holders Leinster beat Toulouse 30-12 in the European Champions Cup semi-final in Dublin on Sunday.
Victory at the Aviva Stadium over their fellow record four-time tournament winners saw Irish province Leinster into the final against Premiership champions Saracens in Newcastle on May 11.
That match will be a repeat of last season’s quarter-final when Leinster ended London club Saracens’ bid for a third straight European crown with a 30-19 win.
Tries from wing James Lowe, scrumhalf Luke McGrath and flank Scott Fardy did the damage against a Toulouse side that battled but could not take advantage of possession in the Leinster 22 throughout the match.
The visitors made the better start and won an early penalty at the breakdown in kicking range for fullback Thomas Ramos, who made no mistake in handing Toulouse a three-point lead.
Five minutes later, the French side were then penalised as prop Charlie Faumuina failed to roll away so flyhalf Johnny Sexton duly levelled the scores with a simple penalty kick in front of the posts.
New Zealand wing Lowe then bagged yet another try in the Champions Cup on 13 minutes. The hosts worked the overlap to perfection out wide and found Lowe who battled past two Toulouse defenders to dive over the try line.
The visitors were reduced to 14 men after 24 minutes as Richie Gray was sent to the sin bin and seconds later, Leinster scored a second try.
Scrumhalf Luke McGrath was the man with the ball under a pile of Leinster men after an effective line-out and driving maul from the defending champions.
As they started the first half, Toulouse finished strong and Ramos cut the gap by kicking a simple penalty between the posts to make the score 17-6 at the interval.
That was as good as it got for the visitors though as after nearly five minutes of sustained pressure from Leinster at the start of the second half, they got a crucial third try.
Australian flank Scott Fardy – who replaced Rhys Ruddock in the side just two hours before kick-off – powered past the final Toulouse defender to dot down and leave the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Toulouse’s Romain Ntamack would trim the Leinster lead with a penalty kick but Heineken Man of the Match Sexton – who kicked 12 points in the victory – slotted over another three-pointer on 65 minutes to restore the advantage.
With three minutes to play, replacement flyhalf Ross Byrne – who was the hero in the quarter-final success over Ulster last month – popped over the final points of the afternoon with a penalty kick in front of the posts.
Tries: Lowe , McGrath, Fardy
Cons: Sexton 3
Pens: Sexton 2, Byrne
Pens: Ramos 3, Ntamack
Yellow cards: Richie Gray (Toulouse, 23 – deliberate knock-on), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster, 30 – deliberate knock-on)
As it happened: Leinster v Toulouse
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Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain) 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Seán O’Brien, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Scott Fardy, 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 (captain), 7 Joe Tekori, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Clément Castets.
Replacements: 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.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England
AFP & @ChampionsCup