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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 5 April, 2020


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Afternoon, rugby fans.

We’re deep into week two of the Heineken Champions Cup and we’ve got an afternoon treat ahead to brighten up your Sunday.

Four-time champions Toulouse are looking to back up their win over Bath and host freshly-inducted members of the four-time winners club, Leinster.

Kick-off is coming up at 15.15, Irish time, BT Sport 2 is the channel if you’re after it.

Currently in action are Newcastle Falcons, and they are on course for a second win in their pool, but Montpellier are closing in fast. 

16-12 the gap there with 15 minutes to go.

You want team-sheets? Voila!


15. Thomas Ramos
14. Cheslin Kolbe
13. Sofiane Guitoune
12. Romain Ntamack
11. Maxime Médard
10. Zack Holmes
9. Sébastien Bézy

1. Clément Castets
2. Julien Marchand
3. Charlie Faumuina
4. Florian Verhaeghe
5. Joe Tekori
6. Rynhardt Elstadt
7. Alban Placines
8. Selevasio Tolofua


16. Leonardo Ghiraldini
17. David Faimafiliotama’ita’i Ainuu
18. Maks Van Dyk
19. Pierre Gayraud
20. Louis Madaule
21. Yoann Huget
22. Antoine Dupont
23. Arthur Bonneval 


15. Jordan Larmour 
14. Joe Tomane 
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe 
10. Johnny Sexton 
9. Luke McGrath 

1. Cian Healy 
2. Seán Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan


16. James Tracy
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. Scott Fardy 
20. Seán O’Brien
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Ross Byrne
23. Rory O’Loughlin

After a dramatic finish to gave Newcastle a late, late winner, there’s a slight rush about the switch across to Toulouse. But excitement is certainly being cranked up in the south of France.

Kick-off is oh so close. 

Prediction time: This Leinster team are just on a different level at the minute. A bonus point isn’t out of reach today, but I think they’ll get a flat win, and by more than seven. 


James Lowe takes the starting kick through red mist. The Kiwi then draws jeers from the crowd as he takes Kolbe while both compete for a high ball. 


The penalty does come belatedly against the Leinster wing and fullback Thomas Ramos takes aim from a tough angle on the right.

PENALTY! Toulouse 3 Leinster 0 (Ramos ’3)


Zach Holmes flirting with disaster after the restart, Lowe up hard with pressure and home fans had hearts in mouths.


Toulouse follow up with some very hard defensive pressure of their own to force an error. 

After the turnover, Holmes looks wide to Ntamack and Medard goes close in the corner, but we come back for the penalty.

PENALTY! Toulouse 6 Leinster 0 (Ramos ’6)


Sensational feet from South African wing Kolbe. Leinster don’t often show holes on first phase D, but the wing bounced through a gap on that occasion.


TRY! Toulouse 11 Leinster 0 (Medard ’12)


Luke McGrath attempted to break from deep for the visitors and he was aided by Jordan Larmour, the young fullback offered up an offload which was snagged by Placines and the openside set Marchand on a massive gallop back to Leinster’s 22.

Toulouse did well to execute the chance from there, hitting the short side and that wily old finisher Medard. 

The only positive for Leinster, Ramos’ conversion was way off the mark.

Scratch that, because the penalties just keep on coming from Leinster and Ramos’ shooting boots are back on.

PENALTY! Toulouse 14 Leinster 0 (Ramos ’18)


As Ramos was lining up that penalty Leinster were hit with another blow, Josh van der Flier was helped off by a medic. Sean O’Brien is in the game.


PENALTY! Toulouse 14 Leinster 3 (Sexton ’22)

Toulouse thought they had a breakaway to celebrate, but Wayne Barnes is quick to whistle dead and bring us back for a 30 penalty, easy pickings for Sexton.

A much-needed score on the board. 


It has been a phenomenal start from Toulouse, but Leinster will put great faith in their conditioning to maintain a pace throughout the full 80.

I can see them reeling this in by the hour. 

More calm about what Leinster are doing with ball in hand now. They’re more content to rumble through phases and they milk the penalty for not rolling away.

PENALTY! Toulouse 14 Leinster 6 (Sexton ’27)


Hold onto your hats, penalty coming for a high tackle on O’Brien…


Wayne Barnes doesn’t seek the TMO, a quiet word with the tackler before Sexton boots the penalty into the Toulouse 22. 


Off the back of the line-out Sexton attempts to quickly flick a pass back inside.

There’s a suspicion of a forward pass, but he connects with Tomane who probably ought to have attempted to recycle rather than offload again. Toulouse turn over. 

TRY! Toulouse 14 Leinster 13 (O’Brien ’34)


The big guns making things happen for Leinster. James Ryan is under massive pressure behind a ruck, but gets his pass away. Sexton pops the pill back to Jack Conan and the number 8 shows excellent footwork to make a tackler miss and power towards the posts.

He keeps his head up in case he needs a passing out and he duly ships the ball left to Sean O’Brien.

Sexton is striking beautifully off the tee and Toulouse’s 14-point advantage is down to the minimum.

What a game we have on our hands!

TRY! Toulouse 21 Leinster 13 (Guitoune ’35)


The centre shows a terrric step to evade tackle and puts on the power to skate over the line. 

Johnny Sexton is having a right old argument with Wayne Barnes in the hope of checking the ground, but it looked like he had enough control to make the score valid.

HALF-TIME: Toulouse 21 Leinster 13

The second half  off and running.

Leinster rumble into the 22, but Marchand is brilliant in the breakdown and wins a penalty as he attempts to rip the ball clear. 


James Lowe looking very bright at the start of this half, looking for work and getting it from Sexton.

His latest carry earns a penalty, which is marched forward 10 metres by Barnes and convinces Sexton to kick at the corner rather than goal.


It’s a solid mauling effort from Leinster, but it grinds to a halt. Luke McGrath attempts and early snipe and he’s crushed in a tackle. Cian Healy goes next and is stopped.

They switch the pick and jams to the openside and James Ryan is the one who makes it over the line.

TRY! Toulouse 21 Leinster 18 (Ryan ‘ 45)

Sexton is bang on target again and we have a one-point ball game on our hands again.

Toulouse 21 Leinster 20

The stadium is demanding a call to be made on James Lowe’s intervention here. They think he deliberately batted out, but it looks a fair contest.

Ramos grubbered into the right corner and Kolbe gave the Kiwi an almighty fright by winning the race to the ball. Lowe’s presence is enough, just, to force the knock on and the ball bounces to safety.


Superb grubber from Robbie Henshaw. He’s not much renowned for his kicking game in recent years, but that is a brilliant touch-finder to pin the hosts back. 

TRY! Toulouse 21 Leinster 27 (Cronin ‘ 53)


Leinster show the sort of patience that earned them top spot in the pool last season. They ignore an advantage to keep a solid tempo of attack in the Toulouse 22 and Sexton slips a pass for Cronin to charge onto.

The hooker is hit, but it’s a mere speedbump on his way under the posts.

Leinster lead this terrific match for the first time.

Toulouse 21 Leinster 27


Game has lost a little rhythm as replacements roll on and Leinster settle back from the hunt.  Suddenly it’s Toulouse who look as though they feel the need to force the issue. 

Ooh. A little touch of magic from Dupont – who have Leinster so much trouble as a Castres player – he chips over the top, gets a foot to the dropping ball and Leinster are fortunate that his control sends the ball dribbling into touch.

This game still showing its fair share of madness as Kolbe collects a loose ball and dances past McGrath and into the danger zone.

Lowe showing his defensive qualities with vital tackles facing his own line.


Leinster call on European player of the year nominee Scott Fardy to help close this one out.

The Wallaby is on for Rhys Ruddock.

TRY! Toulouse 26 Leinster 27 (Medard)


Luke McGrath is picked off 60 metres from his own line and Toulouse got the length thanks to fluid passing and excellent support line. Five men had their hands on the turnover ball, with Medard rounding off the sweeping, clinical counter.

Ramos delights the hosts with a sweet touchline conversion

Toulouse 28 Leinster 27 


Leinster are rattled now, and they ship a penalty after the restart.

Ramos has a chance to punish them…. but he’s missed! It’s still a one-point game. 


There’s a cheap offside penalty from Toulouse giving Leinster an easy escape from their right-hand corner. Can they muster a chance?

Can Sexton break hearts in France again?

Sean O’Brien is penalised and Ramos, rather than kick his side four points clear, Toulouse go to the corner.

They think they can put this to bed or wait out the clock. 


We’re still on a knife edge. Leinster force the turnover on the line-out and the scrum penalty that follows goes Leinster’s way.
77.25 on the clock and Leinster are 60 metres out. 

Sexton opted to kick the ball away, but this time there is no reprieve. Kolbe collected and evaded the big charging hit attempted by Henshaw.

Toulouse are more than happy to take all the pace out of the game and pick and jam their way to 80 minutes. 

FULL-TIME: Toulouse 28 Leinster 27

And there we have it, folks, Leinster lose for the first time since the semi-final against Clermont, but what a game to lose!

Their fellow four-time champs showed their worth and pedigree today.

About the author:

Sean Farrell


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