So that’s that ... Leinster score seven tries to hammer the current English Premiership champions and progress to the Champions Cup semi-finals. Another brilliant result for Irish rugby as Leinster power into the final four still unbeaten for the season.
Ryan Baird’s shoulder injury will be a worry but otherwise, so many excellent performances to be excited about. Leicester never gave up and scored three tries of their own in Dublin, but they were well off the Irish side. Next up it’s Toulouse or Sharks.
Match report and reaction to follow on the homepage. Thanks for joining us!
FT Leinster 55 Leicester 24
Man of the match Garry Ringrose: “The scoreline doesn’t reflect how tough a game that was! Sometimes it takes a little moment like that (Doris yellow card) to galvanise you and it certainly put a little pep into our step.
“It’s all hands on deck for the next two or three weeks now.”
FT Leinster 55 Leicester 24 - An utterly dominant second half performance, Leinster upped it a gear after going down a man and showed how much better than the English champions they are! On they go to the semi-finals. One win away from a home final now and two from a fifth star!
Leinster 55 Leicester 24 (79′) Try number seven for the hosts. Another lineout maul, their third try scoring lineout maul of the second half. Replacement John McKee is at the back of it to grab the plaudits. Ross Byrne from out near the sideline continues his flawless night from the boot with the conversion.
Leinster 48 Leicester 24 (76′) And so it continues, a loose offload by Ross Byrne is picked up by Harry Potter who shows great pace to run in from halfway and grab his team’s third try. Magic!
Leinster 48 Leicester 17 (73′) It’s turned into a sevens game. Replacement Harry Byrne kicks a penalty to the corner. The resultant lineout is well worked, and he receives it again, pops it back inside to O’Brien who gets the try his effort deserves. Poor defence however. Leicester then pick up another yellow as Brown is punished for a high challenge on Frawley.
Leinster 41 Leicester 17 (69′) The English champions get one back, Olly Cracknell powers over after the forwards went through several phases inside the Leinster 22. Pollard converts. They trail by 24 points.
Leinster 41 Leicester 10 (63′) With Doris back on the field, and Leinster now with the man advantage, the hosts kick on! The impressive O’Brien makes a massive break and Leicester go offside as Gibson-Park looked to get a pass away. Byrne goes to the corner, and the lineout maul drives over again. This time there’s no illegal attempt to stop it and Scott Penny gets the try! Five tries for Leinster and seven out of seven kicks for Byrne!
Leinster 34 Leicester 10 (59′) Ross Byrne gets the slaps on the back after winning a jackal penalty over Van Poortvliet. He kicks to the corner and the lineout maul leads to a penalty try!!! Charlie Clare is shown a yellow card as Byrne kicks the conversion.
Leinster 27 Leicester 10 (56′)
A look back at the tackle Doris was yellow carded for..
And the third try..
Try number three for Leinster!! Jamison Gibson-Park scores it but that was so perfect, passes timed to perfection, runs made at exactly the right time and pace. Byrne with the first, Henshaw then set Ringrose free, and he took the right option giving it to his scrumhalf to cross over. Lowe looks to have injured himself celebrating! Byrne slots the conversion.
Leinster 20 Leicester 10 (50′) With just seven forwards in the Leicester scrum, Leinster are awarded the penalty. Massive effort. Byrne nails the kick and they’ve responded so well to going a man down.
Yellow card for Doris - a shoulder to head challenge on Wiese but the referee notes he attempted to wrap his arms. Leinster down to 14 for now. (47 mins)
Leicester collapse the scrum and Leinster tap and go, they breeze into the visitors’ 22 but the referee calls a penalty for a neck roll against Gibson-Park.
Leinster 17 Leicester 10 (41′) The second half is underway and Leicester will be without their captain Julián Montoya who has failed his HIA. Lots of kick tennis from the two teams early on with Steward being penalised for a push on O’Brien, who knocked on under a high hanging kick shortly afterwards himself!
HT Leinster 17 Leicester 10 - A morale boosting end to the half for Leicester, but they’ve been second best with Leinster looking capable of creating and scoring with every possession. A brilliant, intense and fast-paced encounter. More of the same after the break please! The injury to Baird the downside, Ringrose’s brilliant double the highlight.
Leinster 17 Leicester 10 (39′) Leinster knock on and Leicester quickly power their way into the host’s 22. Mike Brown taps and goes after a penalty is awarded - Lowe had gone offside. Leinster hold them up just short but they work it out to Watson who dives over for a try in the corner. Superb finish, and an equally brilliant conversion from Pollard out on the sideline.
Leicester thought they were in, but there was a forward pass from Dan Kelly to Cameron Henderson in the midfield. Leinster’s resultant scrum is strong and they run and offload their way into the Leicester half. They’re playing with massive confidence with the game really opening up (even more).
A look back at the second try as Leicester clear their lines to halfway after 28 minutes ...
Leinster 17 Leicester 3 (31′) Leinster build momentum as they enter the Leicester half (off the back of another strong scrum) with numbers out on the right, and the English champions seem happy to concede the penalty. Byrne lines up his first penalty attempt from a bit over 40m, down the centre, and he slots it!
Leinster 14 Leicester 3 (22′) Leinster get a chance to make amends with another lineout inside the Leicester 22, minutes later. This time they win it at the front but nobody came on Doris’ inside line when the try was on. Leinster recycle and Lowe almost finds a way through in the corner but is well wrapped up, before the hosts turn it over at a ruck. Ryan Baird departs the action holding his shoulder, doesn’t look good for him after a brilliant few weeks!
James Lowe’s clearance is chased down by Jimmy O’Brien - as though it was the last play of his career - with Leicester completely switched off. Pollard just about gets across to slide out of play with the ball. The English side win it back though in the subsequent lineout.
TRY NUMBER TWO FOR LEINSTER AND RINGROSE. Rock solid scrum, Jimmy O’Brien comes in off the wing to take it from Ross Byrne and pop it inside to Ringrose who takes the ball at pace to slice through and under the posts. Byrne, who timed his pass there to perfection, nails the conversion again. Leinster 14 Leicester 3 (18′)
Penalty awarded to Leinster, as Leicester adjudged to have collapsed the scrum. Byrne kicks his team into the corner. Ross Molony gathers the lineout but Caelan Doris then knocks on after being hit by a big tackle. Wasted opportunity but strong rush defence.
A look back at Ringrose’s try below ...
Leinster 7 Leicester 3 (9′) Leinster penalised for standing up in the scrum, and from the resultant penalty Pollard kicks them into the Leinster half. The visitors getting off to a strong start at scrum time there, and also claiming their first lineout with ease. But shortly afterwards they knock on, giving the ball back to the hosts. Furlong is back in the action.
Leinster 7 Leicester 3 (7′) Leicester look to bounce back immediately with a purposeful attack stemming from great work by Freddie Steward under the kick-off. They grind their way into the Leinster 22 with Anthony Watson to the fore. The move ends with a knock on but it’s back for a penalty for a high tackle from Andrew Porter. Tadhg Furlong is replaced by Michael Ala’alatoa on as a blood sub, before Handré Pollard nails his first kick.
Leinster 7 Leicester 0 (2′) Ross Byrne gets us underway, superb hang time on his kick and Hugo Keenan rises highest to tap it down and Leinster get early possession in the Leicester half. Garry Ringrose and James Lowe make breaks. Twelve phases after the initial gather and Ringrose then gives a show and go before running under the posts. TRY! What a start!!! Byrne converts.
Five minutes until kick-off. The thoughts of Jamie Heaslip and Eddie O’Sullivan...
Path to the final...
Just under 30 minutes until kick-off!
Head to head
Leinster and Leicester have met on 13 occasions in the Champions Cup, with Leinster winning the last three - last year’s quarter-final at Welford Road, the 2011 quarter-final at the Aviva, and the 2009 final at Murrayfield. Their first ever final victory in the competition. Played 12. Leinster 7 wins, Leicester 5 wins.
Nika Amashukeli of Georgia, who became the first official from his country to referee a tier 1 Test in 2021, will be on the whistle.
Met Éireann is promising us clear skies, and temperatures between eight and 10 degrees, with a gentle 9km/h breeze at kick-off time.
Results so far: Leinster - W 42-10 v Racing (h); W 57-0 v Gloucester (h); W 49-14 v Gloucester (a); W 36-10 v Racing (h). L16 W 30-15 v Ulster (h). Leicester - W 23-17 v Ospreys) a); W 23-16 v Clermont (h); W 44-29 v Clermont (a); L 26-27 v Ospreys (h). L16 W 16-6 v Edinburgh (h).
Story so far
Leinster are the only remaining Irish team in the competition after their 30-15 last-16 win over Ulster at a rain-sodden Aviva Stadium.
Leo Cullen’s team reached the knockout stages after topping their pool - amassing 184 points during their four matches as they enjoyed bonus-point victories in all of them, the only team to do so.
Defeat in their final pool match at home to Ospreys, meant Leicester finished fourth in Pool B setting up an enthralling, physical battle against Edinburgh, which the reigning Premiership champions overcame 16-6.
Leicester are currently third in the English Premiership, and have won their last five games in all competitions. Leinster are unbeaten this season and 13 points clear at the top of the URC table.
The weekend’s other Champions Cup quarter-finals are as follows:
Saturday, April 8th: Toulouse v Cell C Sharks, Stade Ernest Wallon, 4pm; Exeter v DHL Stormers, Sandy Park, 5.30pm
Sunday, April 9th: La Rochelle v Saracens, Stade Marcel Deflandre, 4pm
See Gerry Thornley’s previews for all three games here
Some pre-match reading for you..
With fine margins and limited resources, many organisations in the Top 14 and the English Premiership are reluctant to channel their efforts away from survival in their domestic competition to focus on Europe
The Leinster production line doesn’t deliver enough talent to underpin four provinces or make up for the shortfall in some of the other academies. David Nucifora and the IRFU needed to address that fundamental issue several years ago
There’ll be a reduced capacity at the Aviva tonight, due to the short turnaround from Leinster’s last-16 win over Ulster. As of last night, 23,500 of the 27,000 tickets available had been sold ...
Check out Gerry Thornley’s preview and prediction..
Champions Cup quarter-final: Leinster v Leicester Tigers, Aviva Stadium, 8pm (Live on RTÉ2 / BT Sport)
LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Jimmy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, James Ryan (capt), Ryan Baird, Caelan Doris, Jack Conan. Replacements: John McKee, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Jason Jenkins, Scott Penny, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Ciaran Frawley.
LEICESTER: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Harry Potter, Dan Kelly, Freddie Steward, Handré Pollard, Jack van Poortvliet; James Cronin, Julian Montoya (capt), Joe Heyes, George Martin, Cameron Henderson, Hanro Liebenberg, Tommy Reffell, Jasper Wiese. Replacements: Charlie Clare, Tom West, Dan Cole, Eli Snyman, Olly Cracknell, Sam Wolstenholme, Charlie Atkinson, Jimmy Gopperth.
Two changes for Leinster. Caelan Doris comes into the backrow, with the injured Josh van der Flier missing out, while Garry Ringrose comes into the centre and Jimmy O’Brien is moved out to the wing.
For Leicester, former England fullback Mike Brown is one of four players to come into the side, with former Irish Under-20 centre Dan Kelly, tighthead prop Joe Heyes and number eight Jasper Wiese all starting.
Hello and Welcome ... The last Irish team left standing in this year’s Champions Cup, Leinster host Leicester with a semi-final spot up for grabs. A repeat of last year’s quarter-final between these two at Welford Road – which Leinster had as good as finished as a contest by half-time with a 20 point lead – with a home final just two wins away for Leo Cullen’s team.
Kick-off at the Aviva Stadium for the clash of four time winners Leinster and two time winners Leicester is at 8pm.
We’ll keep you up to date with all the build-up, and action as it unfolds. Keep in touch via the comments section or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon) but for now, let’s get started!