Planet Rugby

Revenge mission complete for Leinster

30th April 2011 14:06

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Brian O Driscoll in action for Leinster against Toulouse

Heading to Cardiff: Leinster

Leinster exacted revenge for their semi-final defeat of 2010 on Saturday, with a 32-23 victory recorded over holders Toulouse that booked their place in the Heineken Cup Final.

It will be the RDS outfit's second European final in three seasons as they summoned every ounce of desire and hunger to hold the French at bay.

Tries from Jamie Heaslip and Brian O'Driscoll sent them on their way to a deserved victory in front of a crowd of 50,000-plus at Aviva Stadium.

What made their success all the more impressive was that they recovered from the worst possible start, conceding a freakish try on four minutes.

It was in comical fashion too as from a David Skrela penalty attempt, the ball struck the upright and then fell perfectly into the hands of Florian Fritz. Skrela added the extra two points and the defending champions had themselves an early seven-point advantage at the home of Irish rugby.

Leinster responded in a champion-like manner as they clawed their way back into proceedings. Gordon D'Arcy led the charge in midfield and won his side a penalty, which Jonathan Sexton duly knocked over. However, the lead quickly returned to seven after a well-struck drop-goal from international Skrela.

Sexton succeeded with his second attempt to make the scores 6-10 and then played a key role in Leinster's opening try on the half-hour mark in Dublin. Heaslip was the recipient of the applause but it was Sexton who set the Ireland number eight on his way to a try.

But Leinster then suffered a setback when O'Driscoll was sin-binned for a cynical intervention right on his own line and Skrela levelled the scores.

The half should have ended like that, but a foolish penalty conceded by Patricio Albacete for going over the top gifted another simple shot to Sexton.

Back roared Toulouse after the break, and following Leinster pulling down a scrum close to their own line, veteran coach Guy Noves was quickly on his feet insisting his side take another set-piece. His intervention paid dividends as the scrum pushed Leinster back and Louis Picamoles went over through a gap.

Skrela's conversion the visitors 20-16 ahead but the ever-reliable Shane Horgan claimed the re-start with a towering leap, Leinster quickly won a penalty for offside and Sexton cut the deficit to a point with another three-pointer.

The intensity by this stage was of Test-match proportions and when Cencus Johnston was penalised for popping up at a scrum, tempers briefly boiled over. Sexton kept his cool to nudge Leinster ahead once more.

Just before the hour mark they came up with the crucial try which pushed the scoreline beyond one score for the first time. After relentless pressure on the Toulouse line, the ball was moved out to O'Driscoll and the Ireland skipper stepped inside two defenders and dived over. Sexton converted and the gap was nine points.

Inevitably Toulouse responded but the outstanding Heaslip came up with a crucial turnover at a ruck and they had to settle for a long-range penalty from replacement Nicolas Bezy.

Toulouse now needed a converted try but with three minutes left Yannick Jauzion's forward pass ended their last attacking chance and Sexton had the final word with another penalty.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Heaslip, O'Driscoll
Con: Sexton 2
Pen: Sexton 5

For Toulouse:
Tries: Fritz, Picamoles
Con: Skrela 2
Pen: Skrela, Bezy
Drop: Skrela

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Stan Wright, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden.

Toulouse: 15 Cédric Heymans, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Clément Poitrenaud, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 David Skrela, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles , 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Jean Bouilhou, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Daan Human, 18 Johnson Falefa, 19 Thierry Dusautoir, 20 Nicolas Bezy, 21 Yannick Jauzion, 22 Shaun Sowerby, 23 Grégory Lamboley.

Referee: Dave Pearson (England)

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