Leinster 26-27 La Rochelle, Aviva Stadium
La Rochelle have retained the Heineken Champions Cup successfully as they edged out Leinster 27-26 in the final of the competition at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Leinster had a dominating start to the game with three tries in the opening 12 minutes that saw them claim a 17-0 lead. Nevertheless, the French side managed to make a firm comeback as Jonathan Danty, Ulupano Seuteni and Georges Henri Colombe Reazel scored tries to seal the championship.
Playing in front of over 50,000 spectators inside the Aviva Stadium, Leinster made a strong start as Dan Sheenan dived over following a brilliant lineout move released by Jack Conan and Ross Byrne kicked the conversion to make it 7-0.
They further extended the lead as a well timed kick from Byrne was grabbed by Jimmy O'Brien on his way for the second try and shortly Tawera Kerr Barlow was sin-binned for a quick tap allowing Sheenan to complete his second try. Byrne missed the conversion once again but Leinster had a strong 17-0 lead in the opening exchanges.
The first response from the visitors came at the end of the opening quarter as Jonathan Danty crashed over following a powerful finish and Antoine Hastoy kicked the extras to make it 17-7 before Byrne kicked back to back penalties to ensure Leinster had a 23-7 lead at the opening half hour of the game.
With the break approaching, Ulupano Seuteni crossed unopposed after a perfectly timed pass from Hastoy, who kicked a conversion and a penalty goal on either side of the break to make it 23-17. With Byrne and Hastoy trading penalties, Leinster maintained a 26-20 lead by the end of the 50th minute.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Georges Henri Colombe Reazel crashed over and Leinster's problems were compounded with Kelleher also yellow carded for a series of offences.
While La Rochelle surrendered the additional player advantage as Danty was sin-binned for a high shot on Leinster flanker Caelan Doris in the 74th minute but any chance of a Leinster comeback was put off with Ala'alatoa sent-off for a illegal clear out as La Rochelle registered their second successive title win.
Team line up:
Leinster: H Keenan; J O'Brien, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, J Lowe; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; A Porter, D Sheehan, T Furlong; R Molony, J Ryan (capt); C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan.
Reserves: R Kelleher, C Healy, M Ala'alatoa, J Jenkins, R Baird, L McGrath, C Frawley, C Ngatai.
La Rochelle: B Dulin; D Leyds, UJ Seuteni, J Danty, R Rhule; A Hastoy, T Kerr-Barlow; R Wardi, P Bourgarit, U Atonio; R Sazy, W Skelton; P Boudehent, L Botia, G Alldritt (capt).
Reserves: Q Lespiaucq-Brettes, J Sclavi, G Henri Colombe, T Lavault, R Bourdeau, U Dillane, T Berjon, J Favre.