Sweet revenge as Leinster oust holders

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Ireland's 2009 European Cup winners Leinster beat holders Toulouse 32-23 on Saturday in their semi-final at Lansdowne Road to gain revenge for losing to the French side at the same stage last year.

Tries from man of the match Jamie Heaslip and iconic centre Brian O'Driscoll - who had been sin-binned late in the first-half - plus 22 points from the boot of Ireland five-eighth Jonathan Sexton saw the hosts progress to the final.

They will play the winners of Sunday's semi-final between 2000 champions Northampton and French side Perpignan.

Toulouse had got a lucky break early on as David Skrela missed with a penalty but the bounce over the tryline tricked O'Driscoll - who had given away the original penalty - and Florian Fritz followed up the kick to touch down.

Sexton slotted over two penalties while Skrela grabbed one before Leinster got their first try.

It came after a sustained period of pressure on the Toulouse line saw Heaslip, who had started the initial move, just get the ball over the line for his ninth career try in the competition.

Sexton converted to make it 13-10 but then late in the half the hosts were hit by O'Driscoll's sinbinning after a tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc.

Skrela slotted over the penalty but Leinster went in 16-13 up after the metronomic Sexton added a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The visitors regained the lead five minutes into the second-half, with O'Driscoll still off the pitch, as former France backrow forward Louis Picamoles went over and Skrela added the conversion.

Sexton, though, kept adding vital points for the hosts as after Shane Horgan had made a great foray into Toulouse territory the visitors were penalised and Sexton stroked over a superb penalty from out on the left.

The home supporters joy -- and that of O'Driscoll -- was unconfined as the Ireland captain broke through a lame tackle by Clerc in the 59th minute to touch down for a try - which Sexton converted for a 29-20 lead.

The Leinster defence held firm as did their discipline under great pressure but the visitors reduced the deficit to six points with six minutes remaining when Nicolas Bezy slotted over a penalty.

However, despite Toulouse manager Guy Noves sending on veteran Yannick Jauzion they were not able to break the Irish side and it was Sexton who rounded off the scoring with another superb penalty on the final whistle to make it eight successful kicks from eight attempts.