After Toulouse’s defeat against Leinstermen (40-17), find out what caught the attention of our special correspondent at Aviva Stadium.
Leinster hits (very) hard
The clash of titans between the two most successful teams of the Old Continent therefore turned to the advantage of Leinster (40-17), who knew how to impose an incredible tempo on Toulouse, without ever releasing their grip. Impressive grinding machine. The outgoing European champion was swept away in Dublin, and Leinster is certainly the favorite for the title, whether against Racing 92 or La Rochelle who cross swords on Sunday in Lens. It was the fourth time that the two teams faced each other at this stage of the competition, the Irish signed a third success. During the week, Ugo Mola had emphasized the fact that the European Cup will change next season with the arrival of the South African provinces. And that Toulouse would like to remain the only team to have won five titles in this “old formula”. It could be missed: the Leinstermen, who already have four continental crowns, could equal them on the list. A double setback for Stade Toulousain?
A rousing first half!
Rugby fans had no interest in missing the start of this semi-final between Leinstermen and Toulouse. A start to the match launched at a completely crazy pace! With the Irish unleashed, multiplying the skipped passes, redoubled, the assaults in all directions. An incredible pace, for spectacular and exciting rugby. Faced with the fury of the Dublin players, Antoine Dupont and his teammates were able to turn their backs and place an assassin counter by the best player in the world. They then resisted the incessant blue waves. Fortunately because the addition could have been much heavier… The meeting was launched on a crazy basis. The best the Champions Cup can offer us.
The years go by, the concussions too, but he is still there. Jonathan Sexton once again led his team. At 36, the opening half of the XV du Clover (103 selections!) knew how to play fair, create danger in the Toulouse defense. As often, he was impeccable in his role as scorer, allowing his team to widen the gap to the score. We often worry about him, we wonder if he is still at the level, but Sexton proves, in high-stakes matches, that he is still just as effective. Once again voted man of the match. It is not for nothing that the Irish Federation extended his contract until 2023. For him to go on a last stand of honor during the World Cup organized in France.
Dublin audiences respond
We talk a lot about the “Red Army”, these Munster supporters who set the Aviva Stadium on fire last week during the quarter against Toulouse which ended in an incredible and unprecedented penalty shootout. We speak less of the “Blue Army” (non-controlled designation of origin) for Leinster supporters. They are said to be less fervent, less passionate, more “bourgeois”… But this Saturday, the 42,000 supporters present were able to give voice, push their team and create a real hubbub in the stands of Aviva Stadium. Rising to the event and their team’s demonstration. It remains to be seen whether these Leinster supporters will make the trip en masse, on May 28, for the final at the Vélodrome de Marseille.
End of the Irish trip to Toulouse
In the end, the victory of Leinster does not suffer from any dispute as the Irish dominated the debates and put their entry hand on this semi-final. After resisting for a long time, Ugo Mola’s players finally gave in. Heavily. The difference in level was glaring, the outgoing European champions appeared dull. Unable to place spikes in the blue wall that stood in front of them. The Red and Blacks will not make the pass of three: after taking out Ulster in the eighth then Munster in the quarters, they fell to the third and most formidable of the Irish provinces, Leinster. The step was too high. We will now have to focus on the Top 14 and get our ticket to the finals. For the Reds and Blacks, currently sixth in the league, this will involve a trip to Brive then the reception of Biarritz. Completely playable.
We repeat it every year, at every Franco-Irish confrontation. The Irish provinces have a definite advantage over the French teams because they do not have the same priorities to manage as the Top 14 teams. Leinster, for example, only have the European Cup in their sights . For several weeks, Jonathan Sexton and the best elements of his team have been left to rest, spared, exempted from matches in the URC (United Rugby Championship, ex-Celtic League) for the Champions Cup, when the Toulousains still have to scrap to ensure their place in the final phase of the Top 14. Obviously, the freshness is not the same. And that helps when delivering matches of such intensity… This Saturday, Leinster appeared physically a notch above Stade Toulousain.
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