Planet Rugby

Leinster retain Heineken Cup

19th May 2012 15:00

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Brian O Driscoll Leinster 2012

Champions: Leinster

Leinster became only the second team to win successive Heineken Cup titles as they dominated Ulster 42-14 in the 2012 Final at Twickenham on Saturday.

Flanker Sean O'Brien, props Cian Healy and Heinke Van der Merwe, and hooker Sean Cronin scored the tries as the champions won again.

A record European Cup Final crowd of 81,774 watched another outstanding showing from Leinster, who were too strong for their rivals.

Leinster started this private Irish knees up in London as favourites but it was their rivals who drew first blood with early points on the board.

Ulster applied plenty of pressure from the kick off, forcing Leinster back on their heels and eventually conceded a penalty to the kicking Ruan Pienaar.

But it did not take very long for the reigning champions to switch up a gear or two and a strong forward surge in the thirteenth minute resulted in O'Brien just managing to touch the ball down on the white line as he was tackled.

Welsh referee Nigel Owens asked for official confirmation from upstairs and television replays showed the forward had scored a try which Jonathan Sexton converted.

Sexton missed a penalty moments later as the game opened up for a spell of thrilling, flowing running rugby with both sides anxious to run the ball at every opportunity.

Sexton went close but was tackled before he reached the line and the Ulster defence had to fly to the other side of the field to stop another attack as the pressure was turned up.

A superb Brian O'Driscoll inside pass after a mini-break in midfield opened up the Ulster defence, and the ball was finally switched to Healy who was tackled on the line but his momentum enabled him to ground the ball for a second. Sexton converted for a 14-3 lead.

Ulster failed to make their heavy pressure tell when youngster Paddy Jackson hooked a drop-goal attempt to the left. But a stunning 50-metre penalty from scrum-half Pienaar gave them hope on the stroke of half-time as they went into the break eight points adrift.

Leinster piled on the pressure at the start of the second half with another forward-dominated move ending with referee Owens awarding a penalty try as Ulster deliberately collapsed a maul inches from their line. Sexton converted for a convincing 21-6 lead.

Ulster withdrew fly-half Jackson from the front line and replaced him with experienced Ian Humphreys. But one sensed that the trophy had already slipped through their fingers.

Pienaar and Sexton exchanged further penalties before Ulster finally broke through the thick blue line of defence. Constant pressure from one side of the field to the other eventually saw the ball floated from Paddy Wallace to Tuohy and the big lock dived in for a try on the hour.

Sexton's second penalty of the game stretched Leinster's lead to 13 points with 10 minutes remaining. Humphreys had to be replaced himself by Paul Marshall when he was injured.

Ulster had full-back Stefan Terblanche sent to the sin-bin for a bad off-the-ball tackle and Sexton kicked a third penalty before a fifth try in the final minute - after Van der Merwe had scored on the right - from replacement Cronin on the other touchline finished the job.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: O'Brien, Healy, Penalty, Van der Merwe, Cronin
Con: Sexton 3, McFadden
Pen: Sexton 3

For Ulster:
Try: Tuohy
Pen: Pienaar 3

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 David Kearney.

Ulster: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Adam D'Arcy.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Jérôme Garces (France)

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