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Reigning Heineken Champions Cup champions Exeter Chiefs host four-time competition winners Leinster Rugby in a monumental quarter-final on Saturday.
Exeter came back from 14-0 down to beat Lyon in the Round of 16, while Leinster overcame Montpellier (35-14) and Northampton Saints (35-19) in the pool stage.
The two sides have met four times in Europe’s elite competition – most recently in the 2017/18 pool stage – with Leinster coming out on top on each occasion.
Exeter though are unbeaten in their last 11 completed games in the Heineken Champions Cup, and have won their last eight home games in the competition.
The action at Sandy Park gets underway at 17:30 British and Irish time and is available to watch live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and beINSPORTS in France.
Exeter Chiefs; 7th in Heineken Champions Cup Pool B; 5 points
Leinster Rugby; 1st in Heineken Champions Cup Pool A; 10 points
Round of 16
Exeter Chiefs 47-25 Lyon
Leinster Rugby awarded Round of 16 tie against RC Toulon
Heineken Champions Cup Head-to-head record
Exeter Chiefs wins: 0
Leinster Rugby wins: 4
Leading 2020/21 points-scorers
Exeter Chiefs: Joe Simmonds (20)
Leinster Rugby: Ross Byrne (20)
Last season’s winners 🆚 European giants and 4️⃣ time winners 🙌
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 7, 2021
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby): “If we look back to 2018, both home and away, it was tough rugby and you know, I suppose we luckily came out on the right side of the result both times. Since then, they have gone on and really pushed on, obviously winning it last year, doubling up with the Premiership as well, obviously a quality team. Obviously Sandy Park is a fortress for them, we have a big task on our hands at the weekend.”
Rob Baxter (Exeter Chiefs): “Leinster were the first team we played in the Heineken Cup in 2012 and there was a fair bit of underestimation from them… they sneaked through 9-6 over in Ireland. Since then we’ve met a few times and they’ve come out on top, but we’ve moved on to a degree. I’m not saying we’re meeting on a level playing field, but it’s far more level than to talk about past history too much.”
- Exeter Chiefs and Leinster Rugby have faced each other four times already in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the Irish side winning all those games (pool stages 2012/13 and 2017/18).
- Exeter Chiefs are unbeaten in their last 11 completed games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W10 D1), only four other teams had longer unbeaten runs in the competition (Leinster, Munster, Saracens and Toulouse).
- Exeter have won their last eight home games in the Heineken Champions Cup, their longest winning run at home in European competitions (across both the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup).
- Leinster have won 14 of their last 16 completed games in the Heineken Champions Cup (L2), the two defeats in that span coming against teams from the Premiership however (both Saracens).
- Leinster have won each of their last six away games in the Heineken Champions Cup, but no team has ever won seven games on the road in a row in the competition; they have won each of their last five away games to Premiership teams, last losing there against Wasps in January 2016 (10-51), their heaviest defeat in the competition.
- Exeter have the best ruck success rate (98%) of any side in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, winning 184/187 attacking rucks so far.
- Defending champions, Exeter, have averaged more points (45) and tries (6.5) per game than any other side in the Heineken Champions Cup this season; also averaging the most time in possession per match (20m 8s).
- Dave Kearney has averaged three clean breaks per 80 minutes in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, of players still in the competition only Kurtley Beale (3.7) has a better rate.
- Johnny Sexton needs three more points to reach 700 in the Heineken Champions Cup, he’d be the fourth player to reach this milestone (Ronan O’Gara 1,365, Stephen Jones 869, Owen Farrell 794).
- Exeter’s Sam Simmonds has won more turnovers (6) than anyone else in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, he has also completed 18/18 tackles and averaged six metres gained per carry, the fourth best rate by a forward (14+ carries).
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Leinster Rugby put in a commanding display to fight back from 14-0 down to defeat Heineken Champions Cup holders Exeter Chiefs 34-22 in a classic quarter-final clash at Sandy Park.
A brace from Jordan Larmour as well as a try from James Lowe and 17 points from the boot of Ross Byrne proved enough for the four-time winners to dethrone the defending champions who led 14-0 inside ten minutes through a pair of Tom O’Flaherty tries.
The first of them tries came from a stunning bit of individual play, beating the tackle of Hugo Keenan before slipping past three more Leinster defenders and scoring at the posts.
His second shortly followed as Henry Slade put Heineken Star of the Match Robbie Henshaw away before finding O’Flaherty and he fended off another tackle before running clear to the line.
The ideal start for @ExeterChiefs!
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 10, 2021
Leinster responded on the 20-minute mark, as Keenan was tackled out wide by two Exeter players but freed his hands expertly to release Lowe on the sideline who could cut back inside and score.
Before half-time, the visitors were level when a line-out on the left allowed Leinster to stretch Exeter in defence, with Byrne attracting attention before the ball found Larmour who was quick enough to dive over in the corner.
Two Byrne penalties before the break left Leinster six points in front, before Exeter responded after the break with a powerful Dave Ewers driving maul and score to trim the gap to a single point.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 10, 2021
The sides then traded three-pointers before Leinster took a grip on the match on the hour mark as Larmour managed to beat Stuart Hogg, ride the tackle of Sam Simmonds and dot down in emphatic fashion.
Leinster’s lead then was stretched out to 12 points as Byrne popped over a simple penalty, and despite Exeter pressure, the Irish province held on for a famous victory and a spot in the semi-finals.