Heineken Cup - Leinster destroy Ulster to lift Cup

Sat, 19 May 19:02:00 2012

Leinster confirmed their place as one of the best sides in Heineken Cup history, securing a third title in four years with a 42-14 victory over Ulster at Twickenham.

Leinster Rugby's captain Leo Cullen and Isaac Boss lift the European Cup - 0

Their five tries was a final record and the victory was the highest score and biggest winning margin in the competition's 17-year history, all watched by a Heineken Cup record crowd of 81,774.

First-half tries by Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy - after an inspired pass by Brian O'Driscoll - put the holders 14-6 ahead at the break and a penalty try stretched the lead.

Replacements Heinke Van der Merwe and Sean Cronin put the icing on the cake with late tries to spark wild scenes in the temporarily Irish corner of south-west London.

Leinster's victory made them the first team to go through a Heineken Cup campaign unbeaten and with three titles they move second behind Toulouse (four) in the roll of honour of Europe's elite club competition.

The win also meant New Zealander Brad Thorn completed a unique triple, adding the Heineken Cup title to the World Cup he won with the All Blacks in October last year and the Super Rugby title he picked up with the Canterbury Crusaders in 2008.

Ulster came careering out of the blocks, securing the first penalty of the match within five minutes when Leinster made a couple of early mistakes at the breakdown. The Belfast-based side decided that the kick was outside even the long-kicking Ruan Pienaar’s range and kicked for territory, before keeping Leinster pinned back deep in their own half with wave-after-wave of confident attacks.

It did not take long for Ulster to make that pressure tell, Pienaar taking his second spot kick and drilling the ball in between the posts for a 3-0 lead in the eighth minute.

Leinster had a chance to level up almost immediately but the usually metronomic Johnny Sexton somehow managed to pull his kick from the halfway line wide, despite comfortably having the distance. However, the early pressure by Ulster seemed to spur Leinster into action, the defending champions showing the slick passing they are renowned for as they started to push Ulster back deep into their own half.

After waking from their early slumber it took just minutes for Leinster to force their way into the lead, O’Brien battering his way over the try-line despite the best attempts of Pienaar with a last-gasp tackle. Referee Nigel Owens sent the decision up to the television match official to check the grounding from the Leinster flanker but replays showed O’Brien was just on the line as he forced the ball down and Sexton quickly added the extras to maximise the score.

Leinster combined to score another classic team try 20 minutes later, Healy the man to dive over after O’Brien and Eoin Reddan had taken advantage of a gap in the Ulster line.

Sexton added another two points to leave the defending champions looking comfortable heading into the interval before Pienaar gave Ulster hope with the last kick of the half, after Rob Kearney was penalised at the breakdown.

But Ulster could not build on that hope with things quickly going downhill after half-time when another mistake from a nervy Paddy Jackson ultimately lead to a penalty try for Leinster; Ulster pulling down a rolling maul as the Dublin side charged towards the line.

Unsurprisingly, Sexton had no troubles adding the conversion from right in front of the posts and Ulster found themselves more than two converted tries behind just six minutes after the re-start.

The underdogs were afforded a brief glimpse of hope when O’Brien was harshly penalised for a high tackle in the 49th minute, allowing Pienaar the kick that brought the deficit back down to 21-9. But a sloppy penalty from Carl Henry, playing the ball off his feet, immediately allowed Sexton to re-establish the 15 point lead.

That third kick from Sexton heralded the door slamming shut in Ulster’s face as Leinster looked increasingly less likely to allow their opponents back into the match, despite Dan Tuohy scoring a consolation try for Ulster just after the hour mark.

Wallace broke through the Leinster line before flinging the ball wide to Tuohy, who forced his way over in the corner. Ulster really needed to add the conversion to put any real pressure on Leinster, although even then a comeback would have been a long shot, but will be left to rue their chances after Pienaar’s admittedly tricky kick sailed across the front of the goal and past the right upright.

Sexton added another penalty with 11 minutes remaining on the clock to take his side to a 27-14 lead, which told the tale of their control on the match.

But a shocking final 10 minutes from Ulster were to come, allowing Leinster to end with a scoreline that unfairly reflected Ulster’s contribution to the match.

First Stefan Terblanche was sent to the sin-bin for a poor tip tackle on substitute Sean Cronin, a moment of stupidity that also allowed Sexton to bring Leinster’s tally up to 30 points.

Easily exploiting their one-man advantage, Leinster crossed over for a fourth try just four minutes later, van der Merwe the man to touch down in the left corner before Fergus McFadden, taking over kicking duties from the substituted Sexton, failed to add the conversion.

But Cronin’s last-minute try, this time in the right corner, afforded McFadden the chance to make amends, this winger this time landing the conversion to complete a highly impressive win for Leinster.

Leinster still have a further chance for glory this season when they take on Ospreys in the final of the Pro12 at the RDS next weekend.

Pippa Davis / Follow on Twitter @pippawdavis / Eurosport

Comment 9 - 29 of 29

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  1. i think they will do the double on sunday........ from­ an Osp's fan

    From Huw Jardon, on Mon 21 May 9:18
  2. Never been a fan of Owens....but Cullen should have got­ a yellow in the first 20 minutes this must go down as­ one of his worst performances

    From Robin, on Mon 21 May 6:52
  3. ..and I agree.

    From Hugh, on Sun 20 May 17:28
  4. Rosemary I agree i have been saying this since­ Christmas. The IRFU want a successful national team­ therefore you musat have the best coach.

    From Michael S, on Sun 20 May 16:50
  5. Joe Schmidt for Irish coach and we can win the World­ Rugby Cup in 2015- no doubt about it. No disrespect to­ Declan Kidney but !!!!

    From Rosemary, on Sun 20 May 14:54
  6. It's a club competition so the players can come­ from Timbuktu. However, the IRFU have proposed that in­ the future, only 1 foreign player will be allowed on­ each team and that each foreign player should be in a­ different position to that in the other provinces. The­ purpose of this is to promote the progress of local­ players to the National team. In my mind this is not to­ recognise the job that the provinces have done in­ promoting interest in the game. Recently I saw a couple­ of kids on a council estate playing with a rugby ball.­ This would never have happened previously without the­ success of Leinster and Munster bringing the game to­ the attention of a wider audience. If the kids are not­ inspired by the success of their local team in Europe,­ they will not take up the game and by extension will­ not be coming through the ranks to play for club and­ country

    From Ian Richardson, on Sun 20 May 12:43
  7. As an Ulsterwoman I have to say well done Leinster.­ Great final and the best team won. Fantastic having two­ Irish sides in the final too. And as for the eejit who­ thinks that the ref was wayne barnes...what can I say?

    From claireco, on Sun 20 May 6:16
  8. Brilliant game, with Leinster playing as well in­ defence as in attack, as all great champions should.­ Thanks to both teams for fine spectacle, and to­ referee Barnes for letting the game flow. It reminded­ me of the great Ba Ba games of old!

    From Mr Bean, on Sun 20 May 4:23
  9. why have the bbc a problem reporting on an exceptional­ irish side ,grow up we are are own nation ,i have the­ greatest respect for the bbc but lads you let­ yourselves down big time .come on give a we small­ country a bit of credit

    From Anthony Gallagher, on Sun 20 May 2:47
  10. NEIL MCCAFFERTY 11 of the 15 were irish

    From We Do What We Want, on Sun 20 May 2:39
  11. Cracking display by Leinster, tis only better­ they're gettin.Think pippa davis from eurosport­ needs to do a lil revision,largest Heineken cup crowd­ it wasnt...that honour still belongs to Croke Park from­ the 2009 semi betwen Leinster and Munster 82,208! likes­ me facts i do!!

    From EGG, on Sun 20 May 2:01
  12. We should rave about Leinster as we do about Barcelona­ in the soccer world. The best team in modern times.

    From IAN, on Sun 20 May 0:12
  13. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Congretulation from france to both team. I've seen­­ a great rugby match between two beautiful team.­­ Leinster deserves to win the Hcup for all their games.­­ Ulster can be proud of themself as they played well,­­ and against 16 players. Indeed, that's just damage­­ that referees had a such impact on the final result by­­ given about 13 points at the beginning of the second­­ half... Firstly I thought that was big mistakes of­­ referee which has been changed the match! Finally and­­ apparently, Mr Owens prefered Leinster (many yellow­­ cards not given to Leinster) and help this team which­­ normally needn't of that...

    From Pascal, on Sat 19 May 22:20
  14. Hugh and Denise thank you for being such gracious­ Ulster fans. Leinster won because we have a great coach­ who has coached a great talented squad. When the subs­ are introduced they fit seamlessly into the pattern.You­ nearly foreget the numbers on there back. Why does­ this not translate to the national squad? For me it is­ the coach. Schmidth for national coach so that everyone­ plays to the same system. let me also say Nigel had­ a good game as ref. No messing everyone on the field­ knows he is or is not infringing

    From Michael S, on Sat 19 May 21:54
  15. Ah well Lads and Lassies Rugby, and the country as a­ whole were the winners at the end of the day! For a­ small country we ruled the roost today, and Ulster can­ only grow, and learn from this! Not taking anything­ away from Leinster, truly remarkable achievement for a­ relatively unknown a few years back......

    From Kevin, on Sat 19 May 20:59
  16. ADI, certainly irish club rugby rules Europe at the­ moment but where is the Irish Rugby team - they are­ well down the pecking order so how do we explain that,­ i dont know

    From Mark, on Sat 19 May 20:18
  17. Well done Leinster. Cracking game.

    From Paul, on Sat 19 May 20:05
  18. Somehow i think NEIL MCCAFFERTY is on the wrong page,­ the bulk of the Irish team was playing in Twickenham­ today.

    From Declan, on Sat 19 May 19:46
  19. we were beat by the better team you will never see a­ team as good as Leinster ever again. and the down side­ they will probably only get better...........

    From denise, on Sat 19 May 19:41
  20. I am an Ulster fan who sends hearty congratulations to­ Leinster. You destroyed us. Nothing else is the­ truth.

    From Hugh, on Sat 19 May 19:36
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