Leinster book Dublin date
Sat, 27 Apr 2013 20:25
Five tries to one
Three-time European Cup winners Leinster booked their place in the Final of the Challenge on Saturday with a 44-16 thumping of holders Biarritz.
Leinster, who this season became the first holders of the European Cup to go out at the group stage, will play Stade Francais in the Final back in Dublin on May 17.
It could well provide the perfect backdrop for legendary centre Brian O'Driscoll to announce his much-anticipated retirement, although he is almost certain to tour with the British and Irish Lions in June.
For Biarritz, who stayed in touch until the Final minute of the first-half, it means they will miss out on European competition for the first time since the 1999/2000 campaign as they have no hopes of reaching the Top 14 play-offs this term.
Leinster took a fourth minute lead through a try by Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip which was converted by Jonathan Sexton.
Biarritz reduced the lead thanks to a penalty by former France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili and another in the 24th minute saw them trail by just a point.
Sexton, who leaves for French side Racing-Metro next season, slotted over a penalty shortly before the half hour mark to make it 10-6.
The metronomic Yachvili added another penalty five minutes before the break to make it 10-9.
However, the hosts hit back brutally with two converted tries inside a minute.
The first was a well-worked one as Brian O'Driscoll fed Rob Kearney who slipped a pass inside to Sexton and he went over, yelling in delight as he touched down - and converted it for good measure.
The Irish province then worked the ball back down the pitch and ended with Heaslip - a different player to the one who appeared burdened by the captaincy in the Six Nations - crashing over. Sexton converted for a 24-9 half-time lead.
Leinster started the second-half in the same frame of mind and went close to scoring a fourth try through Ian Madigan, who intercepted inside his own 22 and was only brought down five metres out.
However, they won a penalty in the process - Zimbabwean-born United States wing Takudzwa Ngwenya was sin-binned to boot - and Sexton converted it for 27-9.
Leinster were rampant now and another fine try followed as Sexton set up wing Isa Nacewa which Madigan converted for 34-9 while Sexton went off after a fine day's work.
Leinster added another try, the peerless O'Driscoll touching down, with it converted for 44-9 and 15 minutes still remaining.
O'Driscoll's try provoked the Leinster faithful into chanting 'four more years!' which had the 33-year-old warrior smiling as he contemplates almost certain retirement this year.
Tries: Heaslip 2, Sexton, Nacewa, O'Driscoll
Cons: Sexton 3, Madigan 2
Pens: Sexton 2, Madigan
Pens: Yachvili 3
Yellow card: Taku Ngwenya (Biarritz, 44)
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Andrew Conway.
Biarritz: 15 Marcelo Bosch, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Benoît Baby, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Thibault Dubarry, 5 Pelu Taele, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Arnaud Heguy, 1 Thomas Synaeghel.
Replacements: 16 Benoit August, 17 Eugène Van Staden, 18 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19 Wenceslas Lauret, 20 Mathias Marie, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Seremaïa Burotu, 23 Teddy Thomas.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Greg Garner (England); Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)
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