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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 15 May 2021


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The Heineken Champions Cup weekend continues at pace for Ireland’s provinces.

It’s French opposition for all four and, after Ulster’s close-fought win over Clermont last night, the clock has just gone 80 in Connacht’s clash with Toulouse.

The Westerners made a hell of a fist of it against the Top14 champions, the scoreline reads 25-17 at the minute.

But our main focus in this liveblog is Leinster’s clash with the current Top14 leaders. 

Lyon could well be out to lay down a marker against a European heavyweight. 

Connacht shipped a fourth try with the clock long gone red in Toulouse. A 32-17 loss barely does them justice, but what justice does sport ever give.

The other match in Leinster’s pool is currently coming to a dramatic finish as Benetton and Northampton are deadlocked on 32 points apiece in Italy.

Both sides have the try bonus, so they could both walk away with three points here if there’s no decisive act.

There is a winner in Treviso and it is Northampton!

The Saints march to the top of Pool 1 having beaten Lyon in round one and come out the right side of this razor-thin margin thanks to an 85th minute Dan Biggar penalty.

They’ll face Leinster in next month’s back-to-backs.

Here are your horses for today’s course. Lyon will look to their excellent half-back combination of Jonathan Wisniewski and Baptiste Couilloud to steer the side behind that powerful pack.

Leo Cullen has recalled Rob Kearney to fullback, a steady hand to help manage whatever the in-form French club can throw at them.


15. Toby Arnold
14. Xavier Mignoy
13. Thibaut Regard
12. Charlie Ngatai
11. Noa Nakaitaci
10. Jonathan Wisniewski
9. Baptiste Couilloud (captain)

1. Xavier Chiocci
2. Mickael Ivaldi
3. Demba Bamba
4. Virgile Bruni
5. Hendrick Roodt
6. Julien Puricelli
7. Liam Gill
8. Carl Fearns

16. Jeremie Maurourard
17. Raphael Chaume
18. Francisco Gomez Kodela
19. Etienne Oosthuizen
20. Loann Goujon
21. Jonathan Pélissié
22. Jean-Marcellin Buttin
23. Rudi Wulf


15. Rob Kearney
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe 
10. Johnny Sexton (captain) 
9. Luke McGrath 

1. Cian Healy 
2. Rónan Kelleher 
3. Tadhg Furlong 
4. Scott Fardy 
5. James Ryan 
6. Rhys Ruddock 
7. Josh van der Flier 
8. Max Deegan 


16. James Tracy
17. Ed Byrne
18. Andrew Porter
19. Devin Toner
20. Josh Murphy
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Ross Byrne
23. Dave Kearney

 Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

The teams are out on the field in a dull and damp Lyon.

The home side kick off deep into Leinster territory.


Early pressure from Lyon comes on the back of a left-hand scrum. Charlie Ngatai is tasked with early hard yards, but the blue wall gradually gains ground in contact and forces Wisniewski into attempting a drop-goal.



Rhys Ruddock shows good footwork in contact, but Lyon take advantage of some hesitant support at the breakdown.

Leinster’s progress is slowed down only briefly though and the move it right before Garry Ringrose attempts a cut and is snagged by a high hand in the tackle.



PENALTY! Lyon 0 Leinster 3 (Sexton ’8)

Smooth action, clean outcome. 


Leinster certainly look the steadier of the sides out there and are forcing errors from their hosts. The commentary team also could do with upping the accuracy. Mike McCarthy has referred to Leinster’s left win three times as George Lowe and Jonny Sexton pings his second penalty attempt off the post in between.


A high-tempo attack from Leinster ends with nothing there after Sexton carried into contact. Ringrose attempted to chip ahead as he slipped into first receiver. It’s overcooked and the hosts clear it long.


A chip over the top causes all sorts of bother for Leinster there as Arnold continued following it along with the pill bobbling back against his shins.

They can’t quite make the breakthrough count in attack though and they cough up a turnover thanks to Josh van der Flier and James Ryan storms away.

There’s support in spades, but cover too. The move is slowed in contact and that suits Leinster to a tee as it leads to a Max Deegan try.


An excellent start from Leinster, flexing their muscles in the face of a manic tempo from the hosts. They’re comfortable in chaos, if you want.

Hold on though, Rob Kearney doesn’t look all that comfortable. He has hobbled away from a 24th minute tackle. We’ll keep an eye on his movement.


Yellow Card: Jordan Larmour

Just as I lauded Leinster for making themselves comfortable, the young back is sent for a cool-off after Couilloud spoiled Luke McGrath’s ball behind the scrum and hared off into the Leinster 22.

Larmour killed the ball on the five metre line and his side will defend with 14 men.


There’s another serious marker laid down by the favourites for this year’s tournament. Having slowed down Lyon’s attack, they force a scrum penalty and McGrath fist pumps as they create the chance to exit.

Off the following line-out maul they chisel out a penalty and Sexton bangs the ball on up to the 22. Huge turnaround.


Swings and roundabouts, eh? Penalties bring us all the way back down to Leinster’s five metre line and Lyon will now mount an attack from the line-out.


Wisniewski gets scolded for asking for another card, but the maul is given a warning as Lyon go back to the sideline.


A much better attack from Lyon, showing ambition and width as they go wide and back towards Nakataici.

And still the 14 blue shirts hold firm and eventually force the error. It’s down to the scrum again to help them finds a way out.


The scrum holds its side of the bargain and Ringrose is slipped through a gap to bring Leinster into open field. Sexton looks to move it wide early. The ambition is good, and though the move fizzles out, it’s well worth attempted with 15 men back on the field and a 10-point cushion.

Robbie Henshaw is viciously leading this Leinster defensive effort. He looks back to his best after an illness in recent weeks. He slams into Ngatai and works to strip his opposite number.

The attack labours on and while the visitors concede yards, they maintain pressure and force a knock-on to signal the interval.


The second half is under way in Lyon and the visitors will be hell-bent on keeping that zero on the scoreboard for as long as possible.


This is a gruelling one, to be honest. A whole lot of huffing, puffing and crash bang wallop.

The latest of those wallops is from Johnny Sexton on Fearns and the TMO is having a look at Mickael Ivaldi’s ‘shoulder charge’ on the Leinster captain. Penalty only is the right call, but the whistles are growing ever louder.

This crowd are no used to losing. 


Still no sign of the flared-up tempers subsiding. Andrew Porter is mong the replacements who have rolled on and he is embroiled after a scrum penalty goes against him.

From the resulting line-out, Fardy is pinged for collapsing the maul. No sign of the hosts taking on a long-range kick, they aim for the corner.


Another pen against the Leinster maul and as the ref is explaining the calls to Sexton, the 10′s eyes burn a hole clean through him.

If Sexton’s slightly raised eyebrow helped to stave off a yellow card, a more conventional effort from his pack has forced a critical turnover on their five metre line. Ball unplayable and it’ll be a blue scrum.


‘The warning is now general’. Leinster teetering on the edge of a second yellow and they are about to lose their clean sheet as Wisniewski points at the posts.


PENALTY! Lyon 3 Leinster 10 (Wisniewski ’66)


A kick exchange brings Deegan onto the front foot after smartly spinning out of contact.

He passes to Lowe, but the wing thinks he is playing in an open game and attempts an ambitious offload to JVDF. It’s intercepted and the hosts batter the ball back into Leinster territory.


TRY! Lyon 3 Leinster 15 (Sexton ’75)


Scratch that. The try is ruled out for obstruction by Garry Ringrose. A soft, but probably fair call that came after an extended period of pick and go pressure from Leinster.

They go back for a penalty.

Lyon, you feel, won’t pay the Champions Cup too much heed after losing tonight, so the response of an immediate penalty to put them back in losing bonus point range will hardly matter to them.

A late rally to claim a draw would be worth celebrating though.

PENALTY! Lyon 6 Leinster 13 (Wisniewski ’78)


FULL-TIME: Lyon 6 Leinster 13

One last attack from Lyon comes thanks to another big carry from Fearns. Devin Toner is putting that big body on the line in defence. The clock has gone red, but the black jerseys keep coming forward… until Leinster force a rip.

James Lowe flings it back to a team-mate and the ball flies to the stand.


Leo Cullen will be glad to take his team home from France with a win.

I’m just glad it’s over to be honest.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell


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