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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final meeting with Toulouse, Ciarán Kennedy here at the Aviva Stadium on a beautiful sunny day in Dublin 4.

There’s a real big match feel around the place, with good numbers of Toulouse supporters around the stadium before the game too.

We’ll be bringing you all the action as it happens, let us know your predictions in the comments section.

There’s plenty of good reading to keep you occupied before kick-off, starting with Garry Doyle’s match preview, which you can find here.

You sense Leinster need this more, not just because it is four years since their last win, more because of the manner of their defeats in Europe since, to Saracens in 2019 and 2020, to La Rochelle last year.

And here’s a piece with Leo Cullen from yesterday’s Captain’s Run, with the Leinster head coach discussing Dan Leavy’s new role within the group and the challenge his team face today. You can read it here.

“These type of games, you don’t get extra points for style. It’s about getting through to the next round and they’ve (Toulouse) done that incredibly effectively. If you think they’d a man sent off in that Ulster game, they dig it out really, don’t they? They stay in the hunt, score a late try, they go to Belfast, they’re still hanging in, hanging in but they get the job done.”

And here’s the Toulouse team.

Just 10 minutes to kick-off now, and it’s starting to fill up here.

leo-cullen-during-the-warm-up Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

We’re just moments away from kick-off now, the teams are out on the pitch and the crowd are in fine voice.

And we’re off!

3mins

Leinster building some early pressure here as they look to make another fast start. We’ve also had our first scrum of the day, Leinster just about getting the ball away from a big Toulouse shove.

5mins – Leinster 3 Toulouse 0

Leinster have the first score of the day, Johnny Sexton clipping over a close-range penalty after Toulouse were pinged for offside. The province have made a really bright start to the game.

8mins: Leinster 3 Toulouse 7

Wow, what a response. Leinster break forward thanks to some great work by Tadhg Furlong and Hugo Keenan, but Jamison Gibson-Park loses possession in the Toulouse 22 and Antoine Dupont goes the length of the field to touch down under the posts. Thomas Ramos coverts and Toulouse have the lead.

PENALTY – Sexton

12mins – Leinster 6 Toulouse 7

Sexton kicks another close-range penalty to cut the deficit to one point. Leinster looking really dangerous with every attack, Hugo Keenan heavily involved.

Hang on, we’re going to have a TMO check for a forward pass.

16mins – Leinster 13 Toulouse 7

The try is good. James Lowe was the man to touch the ball down after some good work off the back of a lineout, with Johnny Sexton feeding Lowe with a lovely inside pass. The Leinster out-half slots the conversion and the home team are back in the driving seat.

17mins

A real blow for Leinster as Tadhg Furlong limps off with less than 20 minutes played. Michael Ala’alatoa comes in to replace the Ireland international. 

20mins: Leinster 20 Toulouse 7

What a try. Leinster are turning on the style now as Johnny Sexton carves Toulouse open with a wonderful shimmy. The Leinster captain then plays in Josh van der Flier and the flanker does well to finish under pressure. Sexton converts and Leinster lead by 13.

23mins

Toulouse building some pressure here after a strong scrum. That’s going to be an area of concern for Leinster now, particularly with Tadhg Furlong off the pitch.

31mins

A bit of concern here for Leinster as Michael Ala’alatoa receives some treatment. He looks OK to continue but with Tadhg Furlong already off, this is far from ideal for Leo Cullen.

34mins – Leinster 23 Toulouse 10

Francois Cros gives away a penalty at the breakdown, and the kick is moved forward 10 metres for dissent. Sexton nails the kick to push Leinster 13 points clear.

Flag

YELLOW CARD – Toulouse (Meafou)

A yellow card for Toulouse, and it’s been coming. Emmanuel Meafou is the man sent to the bin following a dangerous hit on Jamison Gibson-Park.

 

The half comes to a close as Ramos sends a loose pass out of play. That’s been the story for Toulouse so far really. The French side look tired after last weekend’s extra-time exploits and have yet to really click into gear, with their discipline a real issue in the opening 40.

Leinster lead by 13 at the break, and are just 40 minutes away from booking their place in the Champions Cup final. We’ll be back shortly with all the second-half action.

SECOND HALF

Leinster 23 Toulouse 10

We are back underway in sunny Dublin. No changes for either side at the break. Toulouse still down to 14 men with Meafou in the bin.

Not much happening for Toulouse so far today, but Dupont’s try is worth a rewatch. Leinster will be wary that the French side can strike from anywhere as they look to find a path back into this contest.

44mins – Leinster 23 Toulouse 10

We’ve just had confirmation that the attendance today is 42,076. The home crowd are certainly enjoying themselves so far.

However there’s been another wobble at the scrum for Leinster as Toulouse win a penalty and get an opportunity to go down the pitch.

46mins – Leinster 23 Toulouse 10

Jack Conan maybe lucky to escape a yellow card as he appears to trip Romain Ntamack, but referee Karl Dickson decides it was an accidental collision.

Dan Sheehan is in for Rónan Kelleher, who is off for a HIA.

52mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 10

Leinster are just toying with Toulouse now. James Ryan makes a big carry down the middle, and then Toulouse just can’t live with the speed of Leinster’s play. They are held up just short under the posts, and Sexton eventually spins the ball out to Lowe for an easy finish. Sexton converts, Leinster lead by 20 points, and the province are 30 minutes away from a place in the Champions Cup final. This is seriously impressive stuff from Leo Cullen’s team.

56mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 10

A slight dip here as Toulouse enjoy a rare spell of possession in the Leinster 22. For all their attacking quality, it’s worth highlighting how good Leinster’s defence has been today, and second row pair Ross Molony and Jamison Gibson-Park are both having strong games.

As I type, Toulouse have just been shoved over the sideline and Andrew Porter celebrates with a big fist pump into the crowd. They’re enjoying themselves out there.

60mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 10 

We’re now looking at a high hit on Van der Flier by Toulouse second row Meafou, who was already yellow carded in the first half. Dickson decides it’s OK and we go to a Leinster scrum. 

61mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 10

Wow. A piece of real skill and athleticism there as Lowe rises high to tap a cross field kick down to Jimmy O’Brien. Leinster turning the screw again now, they really want to add to their 20-point advantage.

65mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 10

Ciarán Frawley is in for Robbie Henshaw. Another really impactful game from the centre. 

67mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 17

Well this is interesting. Toulouse have another try on the board, replacement Selevasio Tolofua with a really good finish off the back of a powerful maul. Ramos converts at Toulouse cut Leinster’s lead back to 13 points. They couldn’t, could they?

68mins – Leinster 30 Toulouse 17

Another couple of changes for Leinster, as half-back Jamison Gibson-Park and Johnny Sexton make way for Luke McGrath and Ross Byrne. Sexton receives a huge ovation from the crowd as he leaves the pitch. The Leinster captain has been outstanding today.

75mins – Leinster 33 Toulouse 17

Ross Byrne extends Leinster’s lead with a penalty right in front of the posts. 

77mins – Leinster 33 Toulouse 17

Joe McCarthy is on for James Ryan. The 21-year-old made his European debut last week. Not a bad couple of weeks.

80mins – Leinster 40 Toulouse 17

And there’s try number four. Another quality attack from Leinster, finished well by the excellent Hugo Keenan. Byrne converts and that’s job done for Leinster.

FULL-TIME: Leinster 40 Toulouse 17

So Leinster march on to the Heineken Champions Cup final, where they will play the winner of tomorrow’s meeting of Racing and La Rochelle.

Leo Cullen’s side were seriously impressive today, beating the reigning champions by 23 points thanks to a performance full of tempo and quality moments in attack, with Johnny Sexton pulling the strings at the heart of it all.

Thanks for joining our live coverage today, we’ll have a full match report on site shortly with all the reaction from the Aviva Stadium to follow throughout the evening. 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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