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Dublin: 2 °C Friday 19 January, 2018
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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of today’s Pool 3 clash from the Aviva Stadium, where Leinster are looking to make it back-to-back wins against the Exeter following last Sunday’s 8-18 win in Sandy Park.

Kick off in Dublin is at 3.15pm, and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then right here.

Let’s have a reminder of today’s teams…

Exeter Chiefs:

15. Lachie Turner
14. Jack Nowell
13. Henry Slade
12. Ian Whitten
11. Olly Woodburn
10. Gareth Steenson (Captain)
9. Nic White

1. Ben Moon
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie
3. Tomas Francis
4. Mitch Lees
5. Sam Skinner
6. Don Armand
7. Matt Kvesic
8. Sam Simmonds

Replacements

16. Jack Yeandle
17. Alec Hepburn
18. Harry Williams
19. Jonny Hill
20. Thomas Waldrom
21. Will Chudley
22. Sam Hill
23. James Short

Leinster:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Isa Nacewa (Captain)
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Luke McGrath

1. Cian Healy
2. Seán Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Scott Fardy
6. Seán O’Brien
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

Replacements

16. James Tracy
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. James Ryan
20. Dan Leavy
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Ross Byrne
23. Jordan Larmour

A clear sky over Landsdowne Road this afternoon as players from both sets of teams continue to arrive into the dressing rooms. A little under 45 minutes before kick-off.

A general view of the Aviva Stadium Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Gareth Steenson Gareth Steenson

Jack Nowell Jack Nowell.

Garry Ringrose Gary Ringrose.

It’s a case of Round 2 this afternoon as Leinster attempt to make it two wins from two against the English champions.

Sunday’s win was gritty but nevertheless represented a massive step towards securing top spot in Pool 3.

Tries from Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan, on top of a penalty from Sexton and five points from the boot of captain Isa Nacewa, secured the 8-18 win in Sandy Park.

However speaking ahead of today’s game, scrum coach John Fogarty said Leinster were cautious of the threat Exeter still posed despite the prospect of 40,000 supporters at the Aviva Stadium.

He said: “We expect them to come well-prepared and maybe have an extra edge.”

“You saw last year Bordeaux beat them in Sandy Park and they beat Bordeaux away from home. What haunts us a small bit is the Northampton games back-to-back a number of years ago (December 2013) when we did a job on them over there (7-40) and then came undone (9-18).

“The type of team, the culture that Exeter have, the type of players that they are, they’re not going to be in any way phased about coming to the Aviva. We need to make sure that we’ve learned from the game and we’re preparing for what’s going to be a titanic battle again. Emotionally, physically, we have to be in the right place to get through the game.”

Head coach Leo Cullen has been forced into one personnel change and one positional for today’s Champions Cup game.

Josh van der Flier starts instead of Rhys Ruddock, who has been ruled out with a hamstring strain, which means a swap to the blind side for Seán O’Brien and van der Flier then taking the number seven jersey.

A win this weekend would move Leinster up to at least 18 points in the pool with two games to go, with three wins from three meaning they head into this afternoon’s game with a 100% record in tact and on the line.

1 – Leinster 0-0 Exeter: We’re underway at the Aviva Stadium!

2– Leinster 0-0 Exeter: Johnny Sexton gets us underway but Leinster are penalised early and Exeter earn a penalty after snapping up the loose ball.

2 – Leinster 0-5 Exeter: TRY! It’s a bad start for Leinster as Exeter pounce early. Skinner strikes the first blow and what a statement of intent that is from the visitors.

3– Leinster 0-7 Exeter: Gareth Steenson coverts however there is a bigger worry for Leinster as Johnny Sexton is forced off for a HIA after colliding with an Exeter body.

5 – Leinster 0-7 Exeter: Sexton went high in the tackle and is replaced by Ross Byrne. Exeter have come out of the blocks and it’s an uphill battle from hereon in for Leo Cullen’s side.

7– Leinster 0-7 Exeter: That’s a lot better from Leinster! Isa Nacewa chips ahead and the hosts are moving forward thunderously with power out wide.

7 – Leinster 0-7 Exeter: More bad news as Ross Byrne goes down just minutes after replacing Johnny Sexton following a collision with Nick White. He is replaced by Jordan Larmour after seven minutes for a HIA.

8 – Leinster 0-7 Exeter: For Exeter, White is replaced by Will Chudley following his clash with Ross Byrne. Chiefs steal the lineout and they are released at the halfway despite a couple of misplaced passes along the way. Leinster holding firm for the time being following a chaotic start.

10– Leinster 0-7 Exeter: A sloppy handling error from Exeter gifts Leinster their first penalty of the afternoon thanks to Isa Nacewa.

7 – Leinster 3-7 Exeter: The captain earned the penalty, Nacewa slots it over and Leinster have their first points on the board.

16 – Leinster 3-7 Exeter: Ross Byrne has returned to the field of play in place of Larmour.

16– Leinster 3-7 Exeter: Exeter go for the lineout but Cowan-Dickie overshoots it and it comes to nothing as the game ups a gear and kicks into life at both ends.

18 – Leinster 3-7 Exeter: A bit of worry now for Leinster as the TMOs look at an incident involving Cian Healy at the head of the ruck, possibly leading with his arm.

18 – Leinster 3-7 Exeter: It’s a shoulder directly into the head from Healy. That very well could have been a sending off, however he is given a yellow and there is a sigh of relief from the hosts management. Nic White has now returned from his HIA for Exeter.

20 – Leinster 3-7 Exeter: Jack McGrath has come on for Josh van der Flier as Leo Cullen introduces another prop. Replays show that Healy was very, very lucky not to have been sent off after leading with his elbow on Cowan-Dickie at the head of the ruck.

22– Leinster 3-7 Exeter: Exeter now commanding a lot more possession and are succeeding in retaining it against the backdrop of a resilient attack. Leinster remaining disciplined for the time being but their backs are against the wall slightly.

23– Leinster 3-7 Exeter: A huge play of play from Devin Toner as he wins the Exeter lineout magnificently. However it ultimately comes to nothing following a poor clearance from Luke McGrath.

27– Leinster 3-7 Exeter: Exeter get the ball going following a lineout on the Leinster 10. McFadden doesn’t fall for Kvesic’s sly dummy and he hits the number seven very hard. There have been a significant number of hard hits inside this opening half an hour.

28– Leinster 3-7 Exeter: Another penalty for Exeter as Cian Healy’s absence continues to be felt hard. He will return to the field of play shortly following his lucky, lucky yellow — when he thought he was off and maybe should have been.

29– Leinster 3-10 Exeter: Gareth Steenson slots the penalty over with grave and ease as the visitor’s head into a seven point lead with a little over ten minutes before the interval.

31– Leinster 3-15 Exeter: TRY!!! Exeter are taking complete control now. Leinster had just brought Healy and van der Flier back on but just moments later fantastic work from Cowan-Dickie and Scott Fardy got them over the line and the ball down with momentum — the former on the scoreboard again.

33– Leinster 3-17 Exeter: Steenson converts as Fardy is sent to the sinbin for a yellow card for Leinster, as it goes from bad to worse.

36– Leinster 6-17 Exeter: Leinster earn a penalty as Exeter are penalised for not releasing Rob Kearney from the tackle. Nacewa converts a crucial kick as the deficit now sits at 11 points.

40– Leinster 6-17 Exeter: A late scrum is won by Leinster following more patient play from Sean Cronin who makes an untracked break along the left, as his side try and force one final opportunity before the interval and take this game by the neck into the second half.

42– Leinster 6-17 Exeter: Cronin breaks at a tremendous speed but he is hauled down slightly too high around the neck by Don Armand as the boos reign down from the stands at the Aviva Stadium with one final penalty to come from Nacewa.

44– Leinster 9-17 Exeter: It’s a low kick from Nacewa but it’s good! A late three points but they could be absolutely crucial if Leo Cullen’s side are to mount a second-half fightback.

Well, what did we make of that? It was an action-packed opening 40 minutes which has seen Exeter react from their defeat at Sandy Park just six days ago, looking solid and stable.

It was, at times, a dreadful half from Leinster with Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne both suffering HIAs on top of losing Scott Fardy and Cian Healy for a significant chunk for a pair of yellow cards — however Healy may be lucky to still be on the field at all after leading with his elbow at the head of the ruck.

A late penalty and the pinpoint kicking of Isa Nacewa throughout has kept them in this, with his final kick at the end of the first half cutting the deficit to eight points — giving his side a the very least a chance to get back into this game following a calamitous opening half at the Aviva.

Plenty more to come shortly!

41– Leinster 9-17 Exeter: We are back underway for the second half…

It was an action-packed opening half. Are we on course for more?

Johnny Sexton leaves the field Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Garry Ringrose with Tom Francis

Ross Byrne with Nic White

Nic White with a bloodied face

42– Leinster 9-17 Exeter: Exeter have been excellent at catching consistent high balls and once again from the off Lachie Turner catches cleanly in mid-air. A good tackle from Leinster forces an early scrum.

46 — Leinster 9-17 Exeter: A bit of consternation from the home supporters as the referee looks to the TMO for a potential try from Exeter. It’s confirmed that Lachie Turner was tackled into touch, as Leinster rightly earn a lineout. A small sigh of relief from the men in blue.

47– Leinster 9-17 Exeter: Leinster showing a lot of patience building up through the phases as Exeter fail to get back to the offside line. Despite this progress and momentum all of that hard work is undone by Tadhg Furlong refusing to release as Sean O’Brien failed to give him any immediate support in the ruck. Frustration for Leinster.

52– Leinster 9-17 Exeter: Exeter go on the attack at the other end following some slick crossfield passing, but Sam Simmons is penalised for for an extra roll on the ground as the move peters out and comes to an end.

56 – Leinster 9-17 Exeter: Close! Oooof Gary Ringrose was so very nearly away there as the last defender stops him abruptly. Some excellent tenacious play from McFadden in the buildup. Henry Slade is the man who stops him.

57– Leinster 12-17 Exeter: Penalty to Leinster, Nacewa goes for it and makes it 4/4 this afternoon. His kicking has been flawless as Leinster rack up the first points of the second half and edge the game to a five point deficit.

58– Leinster 12-17 Exeter: Leinster building a significant amount of momentum as Exeter begin to feel the pressure. White spills the ball forward in the tackle as Leinster clear the ball out to Jack Nowell. His kick is poor but the lineout is to the hosts as it takes a touch. The atmosphere is building and building at Landsdowne Road.

64– Leinster 12-17 Exeter: TRY! Wait, no! The referee rules it out as Leinster are awarded a penalty instead with the ball is held up over the line. It’s a tough one to call as Exeter escape.

65– Leinster 15-17 Exeter: Nacewa converts and it’s five for five from the captain. The deficit now stands at just two points but it could have been a lot worse for the visitors there as Leinster go from strength to strength trying to draw level. What a game this has been.

67– Leinster 20-17 Exeter: TRY!!!! Leinster have done it and Luke McGrath is the man of the moment following an excellent offload from Dan Leavy. It may have been passed forward… but nevertheless it stands as the referee stands no objection.

68– Leinster 22-17 Exeter: Nacewa kicks the conversion and Leinster lead by five points. Goodness me, what a turnaround!

70 – Leinster 22-17 Exeter: Leinster almost break away again but Jack Nowell stops the move at the source. Exeter really, really struggling to keep their hands on the ball following an opening half where they dominated possession.

It’s been an ecstatic turnaround from Leo Cullen’s side in the second half.

Leo Cullen Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

73 – Leinster 22-17 Exeter: Tadhg Furlong has put in a magnificent shift in his first appearance since signing a new contract with Leinster earlier this week — the 24-year-old is replaced by Andrew Porter who makes his European debut.

75 – Leinster 22-17 Exeter: Exeter need points on the board badly as Leinster continue to wear the clock down inside their own 22. Following Montpellier’s win earlier today the visitors are fully aware they need some sort of a result here today in a deeply competitive Pool 3.

77 – Leinster 22-17 Exeter: Danger continues to grow for Leinster as Exeter retain the ball inside the hosts half. A sloppy, high Luke McGrath tackle gifts a penalty which Slade boots into the corner. Will there be late drama?

78 – Leinster 22-17 Exeter: The home supporters reel in glee as referee Gaüzère awards Leinster a penalty following Exeter’s lineout deep inside. Was that their final chance quashed? Leinster happy to wear down the clock once more.

79 – Leinster 22-17 Exeter: Just a minute to go as the hosts earn a lineout on halfway. Can they hang on?? The tension…

What a phenomenal win for Leinster coming back from 3-17 down to claim their fourth win from four in Pool 3. They showed a lot of guts to react following that HEI suffered by Johnny Sexton which ended his afternoon prematurely.

Luke McGrath’s try clinched the win after the interval but it was the cool kicking of captain Isa Nacewa which saw them through an, at times, difficult afternoon in Dublin.

Thanks for joining us!

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