La Rochelle 32-23 Leinster, Stade Marcel-Deflandre
Ihaia West contributed with 22 points as La Rochelle went on to defeat Leinster 32-23 in the semi-final of the Heineken Champions Cup at Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Sunday.
La Rochelle will lock horns with Top 14 rivals Toulouse in the final of the competition to be played at Twickenham Stadium on 22nd May.
Ross Byrne missed an early chance to get Leinster off the mark as his penalty went wide after La Rochelle were punished for not rolling away. The seventh minute saw the home side reduced to 14-men temporarily with Wiaan Liebenberg sin-binned for repeated infringements.
Leinster immediately made use of the numerical advantage with this time Tadhg Furlong powering his way over after a series of carries and this time Byrne kicked the conversion making it 0-7. La Rochelle reduced the gap after West with a long range penalty kick in the 15th minute started the proceedings and three minutes later he also scored a drop gap making the scoreline 6-7.
The gap between the teams remained one point heading into the break after Byrne and West traded a couple of penalties apiece with the scoreline becoming 12-13.
The trend continued in the second half as well with La Rochelle earning a penalty that West kicked it to perfection in the 46th minute but six minutes later his effort was cancelled out with Byrne kicking a three-pointer between the posts making it 15-16.
Leinster suffered a setback with James Lowe yellow carded in the 54th minute for not rolling away and West with a penalty goal got La Rochelle into a 18-16 lead which became 25-16 by the 65th minute with Gregory Alldritt touching down after assistance from Will Skelton and West kicked the conversion.
The game was set for the French side in the 73rd minute with Skelton going over at the back of a powerful driving maul and with West improving their lead to 32-16 which was beyond Leinster's grasp despite a converted try from Byrne in the 77th minute.
Team line up:
La Rochelle: Dulin; Leyds, Doumayrou, Botia, Rhule; West, Kerr-Barlow; Wardi, Bourgarit, Atonio, Sazy, Skelton, Alldritt, Liebenberg, Vito.
Reserves: Bosch, Priso, Joly, Lavault, Gourdon, Retiere, Plisson, Aguillon.
Leinster: Keenan; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; R Byrne, McGrath; Healy, R Kelleher, Furlong, Toner, Ryan, Ruddock, Van der Flier, Conan.
Reserves Tracy, E Byrne, Porter, Fardy, Baird, Osborne, Frawley, O'Loughlin.