So that’s that . . . Leinster march on to the Champions Cup final after a ruthless and clinical performance. Scoring five tries during their two periods of numerical advantage. On the flip side, five-time champions Toulouse were sloppy and lacked discipline. Also the decision to move Dupont to outhalf, after an early injury forced a re-jig, proved a big mistake as his involvement was limited.
Jack Conan with two tries, Josh van der Flier, Jason Jenkins, and Dan Sheehan with one apiece, another brilliant weekend for Irish rugby!
Keep your eye on the homepage for Gerry Thornley’s report, and reaction from John O’Sullivan at the Aviva.
Thanks for joining us!
FT Leinster 41 Toulouse 22
Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle side face Exeter tomorrow afternoon, with the winner facing Leinster in the Champions Cup final at the Aviva on Saturday May 20th.
Man of the match, Gibson-Park isn’t getting too carried away: “It’s pretty awesome. We were pretty impressed with our first half performance. The rain came down in the second half and made it hard.”
FT Leinster 41 Toulouse 22 - A comfortable win for Leinster in the end. A brilliant first half, and excellent game management to see it out.
TRY Toulouse. The lineout maul inches its way over, with Jack Willis getting the try. Ramos misses the conversion. They have the final say but that’ll be their final say in this year’s Champions Cup.
Toulouse looking to run out from their own 22 with a minute left... and it brings them to halfway where they win a penalty. They kick to the corner.
Harry Byrne comes on for his brother Ross - six kicks from six and another solid showing from the outhalf.
Leinster 41 Toulouse 17 (74′) Leinster in a promising position just inside the Toulouse 22 but they’re penalised for not releasing. Toulouse look to run it out and Dupont plays a lovely pass on his inside but the counter is ended by a Toulouse knock on.
Toulouse are back to 15 again, trailing by 24 points with 13 minutes remaining.
Leinster 41 Toulouse 17 (64′) Leinster build another menacing attack off a strong lineout. They’re awarded a penalty and kick for the corner, going for blood while they have the man advantage again. This time the lineout maul is held up, but Conan gets Leinster moving forward once more, Luke McGrath pops it to replacement Jason Jenkins who runs in. Leinster’s fifth try while having a numerical advantage.
Byrne nails the kick as the crowd give Conan the reception he deserves. The Irish international is replaced by Ryan Baird.
Leinster 34 Toulouse 17 (58′) From the lineout maul van der Flier crosses over, the ultimate revenge for that earlier incident. What a decisive moment, instead of having a lineout in the Leinster 22, Toulouse lose a man and concede another try. Byrne with a lovely conversion to keep his perfect kicking record intact.
Ramos nails his second 50/22 but play is stopped to look at an earlier incident involving Rodrigue Neti. And he’s shown a yellow card for some head on head contact on van der Flier. Byrne kicks the resultant Leinster penalty to the corner...
Leinster 27 Toulouse 17 (55′) Porter penalised at scrum time, the referee felt he was driving at an angle. Ramos from in front of the posts slots the penalty. In contrast to the scoring chaos of the opening half, that’s the first score of the second half!
Ngatai who has been excellent is replaced by Ciaran Frawley after another spell of kick tennis.
Leinster 27 Toulouse 14 (50′) A massive kick from Keenan sends Toulouse back into their 22. Leading to a bit of kick tennis which ends with a Leinster lineout on halfway.
Charlie Ngatai with a huge tackle, which forces a fumble (backwards) and Leinster gather the scraps and relieve the pressure.
Toulouse turn down the points and kick to the corner, sensing an opportunity..
Ross Byrne gets the second half underway! Toulouse gather the restart and kick to halfway, where Jamison Gibson-Park knocks on to give the French side a scrum on halfway.
HT Leinster 27 Toulouse 14 - Paul Graou makes a break and carries half the length of the field before the French side knock on at the breakdown, Leinster then knock on themselves and the referee blows the half-time whistle. A messy end to a brilliant half of rugby, five tries and non stop action and energy. Leinster taking full advantage of Thomas Ramos’ yellow card, scoring three tries. And they’ve been so clinical throughout. More of the same after the break please!
Charlie Ngatai executes a brilliant 50/22 on the run. Sheehan finds his target from the subsequent lineout and Leinster work a good position in the Toulouse 22 but are penalised for not releasing. Péato Mauvaka with a great defensive effort for the visitors.
Leinster 27 Toulouse 14 (36′) Toulouse tap and go from a penalty just outside the Leinster 22, playing with a real sense of urgency, Dupont slips off two tackles to keep it alive before big Emmanuel Meafou reaches out to score his team’s second try. Ramos converts.
Dupont makes two breaks, his first major involvements, and Toulouse then batter their way into the Leinster 22 but again come undone by a knock on in contact.
Leinster 27 Toulouse 7 (28′) In their final attack with the man advantage, Leinster go for Toulouse’s throat again. Paul Graou’s awful pass fumbles to Dan Sheehan who comes like a train to race over the line. Byrne nails the conversion. Ramos is back.
Leinster 20 Toulouse 7 (25′) Leinster are denied a third try!! Jimmy O’Brien did remarkably well to keep his foot in touch in the left corner but the TMO eventually decides he lost control of the ball.
Leinster 20 Toulouse 7 (22′) Another Jack Conan try!!! This time Leinster work it on the inside after a good lineout. Conan carries down the line with one defender to beat and Josh van der Flier on his outside, he gives a dummy pass to open the space up for his second try! Byrne slots the conversion.
Leinster 13 Toulouse 7 (18′) Leinster exploit the man advantage immediately, hammering at the Toulouse line and eventually Jack Conan powers over the line. Leinster have been so clinical here! Byrne slots the conversion!
Ramos carries the ball out of touch after catching an Irish clearance, which gets the crowd going. Jimmy O’Brien and then Jordan Larmour make ground and keep it alive, Toulouse then knock on at the breakdown and Leinster come again via a solid scrum just outside the Leinster 22... Ramos then denies Leinster a try scoring opportunity with a deliberate knock on out on the left wing. He is sent to the sin bin as a result..
Leinster 6 Toulouse 7 (12′) Leinster close the deficit to one point with another Ross Byrne penalty, after the Irish outhalf was tackled high.
Leinster 3 Toulouse 7 (9′) Off the back of the lineout Toulouse create a 3v2 out on the left wing and Ahki goes himself to score the opening try. Ramos nails the conversion from a tricky angle. Lesson for Leinster if they needed it - kick poorly and you’ll be punished.
Pita Ahki makes a break down the wing and chips and chases but Hugo Keenan cuts across to cover and mark it. He clears his lines but doesn’t find touch, and Thomas Ramos gathers and nails a 50/22. Toulouse claim their lineout and are into the Leinster 22 again..
Leinster 3 Toulouse 0 (4′) Richie Arnold knocks on in contact and Leinster counter. Charlie Ngatai makes a strong break and the hosts kick and chase to get into the Toulouse half. The French side concede an early penalty and Ross Byrne slots it from right in front of the posts.
GAME ON! Romain Ntamack gets us underway! Leinster clear to halfway but Toulouse make an explosive start and quickly work their way into the Irish 22..
Five minutes until kick-off as the teams head into the dressing rooms to put on their jerseys!!
A big opportunity for Ross Molony today. His thoughts pre-match here..
And a bit of pre-match analysis from John O’Sullivan...
Teams that have beaten Leinster in Europe understand the value of climbing into the Irish province in the collisions but also in slowing down their ball at the breakdown. In this respect Toulouse hooker Julien Marchand has been an immovable object over the ball in previous matches, leading his team’s turnover stats with nine.
Some more pre-match reading for you:
Just over an hour until kick-off. Here’s your, all you need to know guide to this afternoon’s big Champions Cup semi-final
Gordon D’Arcy’s column there: The Johnny Sexton safety net at Leinster is gone. It’s up to Ross Byrne now... A huge test for Byrne this afternoon!
The fact that Ireland outscored France by four tries to one is a testament to how wrong those French tactics were. France did not box clever. They tried to slug it out with an opponent who was faster, fitter and could hit harder. While it all made for great entertainment, it was not clever rugby.— Matt Williams
Head-to-head: Played 13, Leinster 7 wins, Toulouse 6 wins.
Routes to semi-finals – Leinster: 42-10 v Racing (h); 57-0 v Gloucester (h); 49-14 v Gloucester (a); 36-10 v Racing (h); R16 30-15 v Ulster (h); q/f 55-24 v Leicester (h). Toulouse: 18-13 v Munster (a); 45-19 v Sale (h); 27-5 v Sale (a); 20-16 v Munster (h); R16 33-9 v Bulls (h); q/f 54-20 v Sharks (h).
Leading try scorers – Leinster: Van der Flier 5, Ringrose 4. Toulouse: Mallia 3.
Leading points scorers – Leinster: Ross Byrne 65. Toulouse: Thomas Ramos 63.
Leinster have a potent maul of their own, their scrum has become an increasing weapon and all the metrics suggest that if they again generate anything like the amount of quick ball, they have the more sustained attacking game, and defence...
PATHS TO THE FINAL
Leinster are without Robbie Henshaw, Johnny Sexton, James Lowe and Ronan Kelleher, who are all injured. Charlie Ngatai starts in the centre, Jimmy O’Brien switches wings with Jordan Larmour coming into the side, and Josh van der Flier returns to the backrow with Ryan Baird among the replacements.
Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola has named the same starting team which beat the Sharks 54-20 in the quarter-finals three weeks ago.
LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Charlie Ngatai, Jimmy O’Brien; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Ross Molony, James Ryan (capt); Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: John McKee, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Jason Jenkins, Ryan Baird, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Ciarán Frawley.
TOULOUSE: Thomas Ramos; Juan Cruz Mallía, Pierre-Louis Barassi, Pita Ahki, Matthis Lebel; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (capt); Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Dorian Aldegheri; Richie Arnold, Emmanuel Meafou, Jack Willis, Thibaud Flament, Francois Cros.
Replacements: Julien Marchand, Rodrigue Neti, David Ainu’u, Alexandre Roumat, Rynhardt Elstadt, Alban Placines, Paul Graou, Arthur Retiere.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).
Hello and Welcome ... What a game we have ahead of us this afternoon, the meeting of European rugby’s two most successful clubs, from the two highest ranked nations in the world, a repeat of last year’s Champions Cup semi-final with both teams fighting for a place in this year’s decider. Top of the URC table against the Top 14 leaders, the plot lines are endless and epic.
Kick-off at the Aviva Stadium for the clash of four time winners Leinster and five time winners Toulouse is at 3pm.
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!