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Heineken Cup Final preview

Thursday 19th May 2011

12:00 am (GMT)

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Tutto pronto nella capitale gallese per il weekend di festa più atteso dal rugby europeo - 19/05/2011 12:23

Tutto pronto nella capitale gallese per il weekend di festa più atteso dal rugby europeo - 19/05/2011 12:23

The Millennium Stadium will host its fourth Heineken Cup final on Saturday with Northampton Saints facing Leinster for the right to be crowned European Champions.

Each side has tasted success at the top of the club game once before, Northampton taking the honours in 2000 and more recently Leinster winning the competition in 2009.

Leinster are still on course for a domestic and European double and are looking for a repeat of their success at Murrayfield two years ago.

This season the Irish province finished top of Pool 2 which also included French Champions Clermont Auvergne and English premiership runners-up Saracens.

Leinster’s only defeat came on the road to Clermont but impressive victories over Saracens at Wembley and Racing Metro in Paris helped them clinch the pool.

Double European Champions Leicester Tigers were beaten at the Aviva Stadium in the quarter-finals and in a repeat of last year’s semi-final Leinster lined-up against Toulouse in the last-four.

The French side came out on top last season, going on to win the competition but this season was all about Leinster who defeated the four-times Champions in style to book their place in Cardiff.

It has been eleven years since Northampton ran out in a Heineken Cup final but they could have had no better preparation for this season’s showpiece match after coming through the tournament unbeaten so far.

If they win, they will set a new record by becoming the only side to win the tournament without losing a game.

Cardiff Blues, Castres and Edinburgh were all brushed aside in the Pool stage and the Saints then beat Ulster and Perpignan in the knock-out stages to reach the Millennium Stadium.

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Leinster crowned kings of Europe

Saturday 21st May 2011

12:00 am (GMT)

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Leinster aim to end their longest losing run on the road against a Montpellier side still smarting from their painful losing start to the European Rugby Champions Cup. - 21/10/2016 11:51

Leinster aim to end their longest losing run on the road against a Montpellier side still smarting from their painful losing start to the European Rugby Champions Cup. - 21/10/2016 11:51

Leinster were crowned 2011 Heineken Cup Champions with a emphatic 33-22 victory over Northampton Saints in an enthralling Millennium Stadium encounter.

In a battle between two former title-holders, Northampton Saints champions in 2000 and Leinster in 2009, a scintillating second-half comeback from the Irish province proved the difference as they clinched a second European crown.

The Saints hit the ground running in Cardiff and raced into a 22-6 half-time lead thanks to tries from Phil Dowson, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley.

Leinster looked down and out as they were steamrolled by Northampton but they came out a different side following the interval and launched a unbelievable comeback.

Jonny Sexton was the star of the show adding 28-points including two tries, three conversions and four penalties while Nathan Hines capped a sensational comeback with Leinster’s third try.

Northampton’s Steve Myler got the game underway at a feverish Millennium Stadium and it was the Saints that took the lead on six minutes. Callum Clark made the initial inroads before off-loading to back-row partner Phil Dowson to score. Myler slotted the touchline conversion to hand the Aviva Premiership outfit a 7-0 lead after as many minutes.

Leinster hit-back through the boot of Jonny Sexton on 13 minutes to cut the deficit to 7-3. But Myler quickly restored the seven point advantage after the Saints’ juggernaut pack flexed their muscle at scrum-time.

Leinster’s Mr dependable, Brian O’Driscoll, came close to scoring a sensational try on 24 minutes. Shane Horgan burst through Northampton’s midfield and linked with Sean O’Brien, who appeared to have put the Ireland legend through. But he was brought down short of the line and lost possession when tackled by Ben Foden.

The Saints were dealt a blow on the 25th minute when Brian Mujati was sent to the sin-bin but remarkably they still held the upper hand in the scrum despite their numerical disadvantage.

They demonstrated their forward prowess on the half-hour mark when deep inside Leinster territory their seven-man pack won a scrum against the head. And they made Leinster pay with their second try. Myler went close to scoring with a half break and the ball was recycled and spread to Foden, who beat O’Driscoll to score. Myler added the extras to hand his side a 17-3 lead
Again Sexton quickly responded through the boot but Northampton ended the half the way they started with their third try thanks to a close range effort from captain Hartley.

Myler struck the post with his conversion but the try handed the Saints an emphatic 22-6 lead at the interval.

Leinster came out firing in the second-half and dragged themselves back into the game with a try from Sexton following some powerful carries from O’Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip. Sexton landed the conversion with the help of the uprights to bring the Dublin province back to within nine-points at 22-13.

Leinster appeared to have grabbed a quick-fire second on the 50th minute but Gordon D’Arcy’s effort was ruled out by television match official Giulio De Santis following some sterling defensive work from Diggin and Lee Dickson.

But the boys in blue got the crucial try on 52 minutes once again thanks to Sexton. The Ireland fly-half performed a trademark loop-around Jamie Heaslip and defied the defenders to score.

Sexton converted the try and slotted two penalties in quick succession to extend his personal tally to 26-points and hand Leinster the lead for the first time. While Phil Dowson was sent to the sin-bin for a technical infringement.

Moments later Nathan Hines powered over for a third try as rampant Leinster ran riot and Sexton maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot to bring the score to 33-22.

That came to an end on 67 minutes but Leinster continued to turn the screw despite brave Northampton launching a number of counter-attacks.

The 2009 Champions continued to press Northampton and hung on for a memorable cup triumph.

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