Leinster 40 La Rochelle 13 FT: Champions Cup quarter-final as it happened

Irish province beat their old nemesis and look forward to Croke Park semi-final


20:00

“13 Robbie Henshaw: Used his footwork to find softer shoulders in winning several collisions on the gain-line and got off the line quickly in defence to try to harass the La Rochelle midfield. Great hands in the preamble to Ryan Baird’s try. Delightful cross-kick for Lowe’s second try. Rating: 9.”

Here are the player ratings from the Aviva from John O’Sullivan.

Gerry Thornley’s match report soon to follow. That’s all from me, good evening!


19:43

Some post-match reaction from Ross Byrne and Caelan Doris


19:29

80 mins: One last attack for La Rochelle. But the lineout fails and it’s game over.

FULL-TIME: Leinster 40 La Rochelle 13

What a performance by Leinster! All that preparation came through at the right time. They blew their old nemesis away. A statement win.


19:26

Ross Byrne has been named player of the match. Well deserved, he stood up today, one of his best ever performances. He looks emotional when it’s called out.


19:22

76 mins: La Rochelle just playing for pride now but Leinster not giving them an inch. Good kick though, 50-22 and a chance for the French side, lineout from the corner. They’re overwhelmed again though and frustration breaks out, a big row between various players.

Leinster 40 La Rochelle 13


19:18

Our viewing stats show readers have already moved onto the next game. A surge of activity for this article. A reminder that the next game in this competition could be in Croke Park, the first rugby there in 14 years.

Leinster 40 La Rochelle 13


19:12

69 mins: Even the lineouts are a struggle for La Rochelle today. Leinster all over them, ferocious play. They go from an attacking position to defending from five metres after Doris kicks it and Leinster chase in numbers. Finally a knock-on by Leinster but they just have an extra gear today. Revenge and hunger can do that to you.

Leinster 40 La Rochelle 13


19:09

63 mins: Try for Leinster! They’ve blown them away today. It’s Lowe once more. Great take from Larmour then to Henshaw who hits a beautiful kick to the wing. The bounce just about gets to Lowe but he shows superb handling to successfully finish it off. Job done! Frawley takes the conversion but misses off the post.

Leinster 40 La Rochelle 13


19:02

57 mins: Try for Leinster! La Rochelle conceding penalty after penalty as the pressure from Leinster is simply too much. Inspired start to this half by the Irish province. Byrne kicks for touch, trying to drive home the advantage. From the lineout, Leinster play to the other wing and push for the line. Van der Flier nearly gets there. They recycle again to the other wing and have numbers over. Sheehan on his own and on the wing and it’s a try! Byrne’s conversion off the post, first one he’s missed today.

Leinster 35 La Rochelle 13


18:54

50 mins: Sheehan up and okay. Gibson-Park shows the other side of his game as he wins a penalty, showing his quality in the breakdown.

Leinster 30 La Rochelle 13


18:49

47 mins: Great scrum by Leinster and they win a scrum penalty but doesn’t lead to anything after the lineout and La Rochelle clear well, far into touch. Unfortunately for Leinster, Dan Sheehan is getting treatment.

Leinster 30 La Rochelle 13


18:47

Ross Byrne converts and Leinster up to 30 points. From the restart, Hastoy kicks it out of play and it’s a scrum to Leinster. All the momentum with them at the minute.

Leinster 30 La Rochelle 13


18:40

43 mins: Try for Leinster! Early penalty for Leinster, Andrew Porter does very well. Brilliant quick passes by Leinster, every pass accurate and sharply played until it comes to Lowe, who gives to Baird who easily steps through Hastoy and scores over the line. Awful injury in collison for Kerr-Barlow, getting serious medical attention, hopefully he’s okay.

Leinster 28 La Rochelle 13


18:23

HALF-TIME: Leinster 23 La Rochelle 13

Action-packed half there. Some superb rugby by Leinster on both ends, particularly Gibson-Park’s try just before half-time. But the La Rochelle converted try from the restart after it will have changed the feeling at half-time. La Rochelle were second best for large parts but are only 10 points behind. They have a history of coming back strongly against Leinster and showing their power in second halfs. Nienaber and Cullen will be wary. Here is Gibson-Park’s try:


18:21

40+4 mins: Try for La Rochelle! One last attack by La Rochelle and Larmour concedes a penalty. La Rochelle don’t go for the points this time, kicks for touch. Successful lineout and Leinster concede another penalty. Leyds is nailed by Lowe. Hastoy goes for touch again. Dillane catches lineout, another penalty conceded by Leinster. Doris is warned for his team’s indiscipline. The pressure told too much. Quick and powerful maul, Tolu Latu gets it down. Hastoy converts.

Leinster 23 La Rochelle 13


18:15

39 mins: Try for Leinster! Brilliant offload by McCarthy, then a follow-up offload by Lowe to Gibson-Park who motors down the wing and Gibson-Park scores. Lowe with an unbelievable disguise, no look, turn and pass to the scrumhalf. Magic by the winger. Byrne converts once more. Excellent kicking.

Leinster 23 La Rochelle 6


18:10

36 mins: James Lowe almost intercepts but Leinster concede a penalty as Lowe steals the ball but then is penalised. Lineout into touch but then Baird steals the ball after Alldritt knocks on. Then a massive kick by Lowe goes out the end-line but back for a scrum for Leinster.

Leinster 16 La Rochelle 6


18:04

32 mins: Penalty scored for Leinster. Exchanging penalties in quick succession as La Rochelle show indiscipline, Botia concedes it. Byrne scores again, he’s flying it with the kicks.

Leinster 16 La Rochelle 6


18:02

29 mins: Penalty for La Rochelle. Again from kickoff, La Rochelle win a penalty. Doris catches the ball, Botia is brilliant and turns it over. Hastoy goes for the posts again and he scores.

Leinster 13 La Rochelle 6


17:58

27 mins: Penalty scored by Leinster. La Rochelle pick up a loose ball from their clearance but a knock on and scrum to Leinster. From it, Larmour gets the ball on the wing and tries to score down the line. Too far, but back for a penalty for a high tackle of Frawley by Danty. Byrne opts for the posts from near the halfway line, but with the wind. It’s no issue at all, great kick!

Leinster 13 La Rochelle 3


17:52

23 mins: A mad few minutes. Leinster get it deep from the kickoff and La Rochelle barely clear it under pressure. Leinster are all over La Rochelle and Lowe almost scores another on the wing but he’s held up. It’s back for offside penalty, tap penalty by Doris, five metres out. Sheehan almost gets to the line on his own but stopped. McCarthy within two metres and Gibson-Park moves rapidly towards the line and thinks he has it down. TMO it is. Some incredible defending by Alldritt, held up.

Leinster 10 La Rochelle 3


17:50

20 mins: Penalty scored by La Rochelle. From kickoff, Leinster concede a penalty. La Rochelle straight for the posts and Hastoy scores. Within a minute of the try, La Rochelle back within seven.

Leinster 10 La Rochelle 3


17:49

19 mins: Try for Leinster! A kick across the pitch by Osborne gets a generous bounce for Lowe near the wing and he collects. Leinster move it centrally and within five metres of the line as the Aviva erupts. Byrne with a long pass to Larmour on the wing but can’t get it under control quickly. They recycle, Doris to Byrne with a brilliant quick pass by Byrne to Lowe and he scores! Byrne converts.

Leinster 10 La Rochelle 0


17:44

15 mins: Leinster strong in the tackles, big one by Furlong on Skelton to let him know he’s there. A good counter by La Rochelle, Leyds finds space and lays off to Thomas but Larmour steals the ball importantly and turns over the ball.

Leinster 3 La Rochelle 0


17:40

12 mins: La Rochelle get going in a maul and try to show their power but Joe McCarthy shows his quality in stealing the ball with La Rochelle emerging on the try line.

Leinster 3 La Rochelle 0


17:37

7 mins: Penalty scored by Leinster. Can’t see this game being 42-41 like the earlier match in the quarter-final, no real try chances yet as it’s an attritional contest. Leinster have made a solid start and get another penalty for offside. Ross Byrne goes for the posts, and he scores!

Leinster 3 La Rochelle 0


17:33

3 mins: An early penalty for Leinster and Ross Byrne kicks to touch for an attacking lineout. A rare mistake from Gibson-Park, who throws waywardly but then Leinster immediately turn over the ball, great tackle by Frawley and win. Back for a scrum though for the forward pass by Gibson-Park.

Leinster 0 La Rochelle 0


17:28

The teams again:

Leinster: Ciarán Frawley; Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Jamie Osborne, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy, Jason Jenkins; Ryan Baird, Will Connors, Caelan Doris (capt).

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Michael Milne, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Josh van der Flier.

La Rochelle: Dillyn Leyds; Jack Nowell, UJ Seuteni, Jonathan Danty, Teddy Thomas; Antoine Hastoy, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Louis Penverne, Tolu Latu, Uini Atonio; Ultan Dillane, Will Skelton; Judicael Cancoriet, Levani Botia, Grégory Alldritt (capt)

Replacements: Quentin Lespiaucq, Alexandre Kaddouri, Joel Sclavi, Thomas Lavault, Paul Boudehent, Yoan Tanga, Teddy Iribaren, Ihaia West.


17:10

La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara hopes a trip to Cork will galvanise his team into finding their best performance. His, and his club’s, decision to travel from Cape Town to Cork may or may not have messed with Leinster’s minds, but it ticked plenty of logistical boxes while, O’Gara hopes, galvanising his team into finding their best performance of the season so far.

“The pre-planning was that if we got through Stormers that it made no sense to go to La Rochelle because it takes from Paris airport to La Rochelle, either by train or bus, another six hours. Six hours up and six hours back in the same week, you lose a training day. You can’t train once and beat Leinster at the weekend.

“We got out a bit. We got to mingle with the Cork public. It was just really refreshing to, I suppose, without sounding cocky obviously, just to see that you mean something to them and that was very, very nice from a personal point of view, and the boys had a good week,” added O’Gara.


16:58

Harlequins are currently beating Bordeaux-Begles 42-41 away from home in their quarter-final, that would be quite the shock. The other quarter-finals are Northampton against Bulls at 8pm and Toulouse against Exeter at 3pm tomorrow. Should Leinster win there is a good chance they will play Northampton, who beat Munster in the last round. That game would be at Croke Park, rather than the Aviva, which is being used for the Europa League final.


16:50

Matt Williams writes that La Rochelle have learned to press all of Leinster’s buttons, as they have proven to be quite the bogey team of the Irish province. He says La Rochelle’s dominance over Leinster has its roots in the troubled relationship between Munster and Leinster

“When one former Leinster great told me how much he hated Munster, I told him that hate was an exceptionally strong word that should only be used in extreme circumstances.

“He paused for a moment to contemplate my words, then confirmed, ‘Hate ... yes that’s the right word. I have always hated them’. While some of that was obviously said in jest, the underlying tone tells us about the reality of a true intergenerational feud.

“Part of Ronan O’Gara’s coaching brilliance in winning two Champions Cup Finals is that he has taken his deep understanding of this bitter rivalry between his home province and Leinster and somehow injected it into the hearts and minds of his highly talented French, Australian, New Zealand, Fijian and South African players.”


16:35

Nathan Johns does a deep dive on Jacques Nienaber. Nienaber offered a timeline for the bedding-in period of his new defensive system. “It will be 14 weeks,” he said, not long after first arriving in Dublin. “It took 14 weeks with Munster, it took 14 games with the ‘Boks when we took over in 2018.”

He writes: “How convenient that in advance of this weekend’s season-defining quarter-final against La Rochelle, Nienaber passed the 14-game mark after the recent defeat of Leicester. Such a span includes two friendlies during the Six Nations where Leinster’s non-international contingent lost to Bath and Saracens.

“What is the state of Leinster’s defence now that Nienaber has had his desired window?”

You can read his analysis here:


16:20

Gerry Thornley in his match preview writes that La Rochelle never panic but their up-and-down form gives Leinster reason to believe. A lot of talk has been about the former World Cup-winning head coach Jacques Nienaber and the difference he may have made to Leinster. Thornley writes Jacques Nienaber could help concoct a plan for Leinster to finally oust Ronan O’Gara’s team from the Champions Cup.

James Coughlan, the former Munster number eight, praises Gibson-Park as Leinster’s key player: “Gibson-Park is playing as good as anyone in the world at the moment at 9, apart from our friend in Toulouse.”. He scored a hat-trick against Leicester Tigers, the same again would go nicely.


16:00

Hello and welcome to live coverage of Leinster’s crucial Champions Cup quarter-final at the Aviva Stadium against their old nemesis La Rochelle, who beat them at this ground last year. Kickoff is at 5.30pm. There is some late news to the first team, reports John O’Sullivan as Hugo Keenan is out of the Leinster team for today’s match.

Ciarán Frawley with then start at fullback with Harry Byrne coming into the replacements. Keenan had a hip injury and missed Ireland’s final Six Nations match against Scotland, played last week against Leicester Tigers but appears to have aggravated the problem. So here are the updated teams:

Leinster: Ciarán Frawley; Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Jamie Osborne, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy, Jason Jenkins; Ryan Baird, Will Connors, Caelan Doris (capt).

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Michael Milne, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Josh van der Flier.

La Rochelle: Dillyn Leyds; Jack Nowell, UJ Seuteni, Jonathan Danty, Teddy Thomas; Antoine Hastoy, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Louis Penverne, Tolu Latu, Uini Atonio; Ultan Dillane, Will Skelton; Judicael Cancoriet, Levani Botia, Grégory Alldritt (capt)

Replacements: Quentin Lespiaucq, Alexandre Kaddouri, Joel Sclavi, Thomas Lavault, Paul Boudehent, Yoan Tanga, Teddy Iribaren, Ihaia West.


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