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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 19 January, 2020
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Remarkable Leinster win against all odds

Leinster have beaten Northampton 33-22 in a thrilling Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff.

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THERE SIMPLY ARE no words.

In the most thrilling final in the history of the Heineken Cup, Leinster pulled off a stunning second-half comeback to beat the Northampton Saints 33-22 in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

After an explosive first-half in which Northampton were far superior to the Irish province in every department, a three-try surge in the second-half, sparked by Man of the Match Jonny Sexton, allowed Joe Schmidt’s men to eventually run out winners by 11 points, claiming a second European crown.

Despite having prop Brian Mujati consigned to the sin-bin for ten minutes in the opening period, the Saints blitzed an error-stricken Leinster from the off with tries from flanker Phil Dowson, full-back Ben Foden and hooker Dylan Hartley giving them a 22-6 lead at the break.

A mere six points, courtesy of two Jonny Sexton penalties, were scant consolation for Leinster after a half in which they missed tackles with alarming frequency and often seemed off the pace.

In the end, it took twenty-seven unanswered points for the boys in blue to overcome their 16-point deficit – the largest which has even been overturned in Heineken Cup history.

A brace of converted tries from Sexton in the opening 13 minutes of the second period brought the scores to 22-20 in Northampton’s favour and, when the outhalf slotted a penalty four minutes later, Leinster took a single-point lead for the first time in the game.

Sexton kicked another penalty to extend the margin before cooly slotting home another conversion after lock Nathan Hines went over in the corner for the province’s third try.

That final conversion was merely the icing on the cake for the out-half who finished the evening with an individual tally of 28 points, just two short of Diego Dominguez’s record.

Not that it matters a jot. Set alongside the magnitude of their remarkable victory, individual records of that nature are little more than fancy fluff.

At one point it would have been irresponsible to think it, let alone say it, but today was the greatest day in the history of Leinster rugby.

We were there! Catch up with all of the action in our minute-by-minute coverage >

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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