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Leinster Rugby (10) 20 - 13 (3) Stade Toulousain
Royal Dublin Showgrounds
Att: 16,752
Saturday, 12 January 2008, 13:30

Leinster faced Toulouse at the RDS knowing that while their qualification hopes still had a pulse, they were very much on the critical list. There was still pride to play for and an opportunity to demonstrate that in another time and another group Leinster could have been a force in this competition.

Cheika had rung the changes from the match against Ospreys, some changes enforced some tactical. Jonathan Sexton must find himself questioning whether the player of the month award is a curse as he found himself on the bench with the back line rejigged to accommodate the returning D'Arcy. The front row featured changes in the shape of Stephen Knoop, but with doubts over the fitness of both props and McCormack only returning from injury, Leinster were forced to name twenty year old Cian Healy among the replacements.

Leinster started brightly with Contepomi giving his side a 4th minute advantage with a penalty. The next twenty minutes however were a cat and mouse affair with Toulouse happy to kick for field position and pegging Leinster back.

Toulouse were infringing persistently but Leinster, knowing that a bonus point victory was the feasible way to maintain their qualification hopes, turned down opportunities to kick for points opting to kick for the line.

The tactics of keeping the ball in the forwards from scrums and lineouts were working to a point and shortly afterwards Toulouse were reduced to 14 with Lamboley being the man to see yellow for the collective efforts of the Toulouse pack. After the umpteenth phase of play on the Toulouse line the ball was moved wide. O'Driscoll and Contepomi linked well and a nice pass back inside by Contepomi saw Luke Fitzgerald score the games first try. Contepomi duly obliged with the extras.

Toulouse saw out the half by breaking their duck on the scoreboard with a Courrent penalty on the cusp of half time following a Leinster infringement at the breakdown.

Leinster knew that they would have it all to do in the second half to score the requisite three additional tries, but it was instead Toulouse who emerged stronger after half time. Cedric Heymans emerged for the second half with the bit between his teeth and had his fellow teammates been on the same wavelength as him would surely have created an opening in the first ten minutes of the second period.

Having absorbed incessant pressure for a quarter of an hour, it was Toulouse who struck with another Courrent penalty. A few minutes afterwards Leinster struck again. Once again it was Luke Fitzgerald who scored and just like his earlier effort, Contepomi who was the architect.

Leinster still had time to score the two tries needed, but it was Toulouse who struck next. Yves Donguy scored with practically his first touch following excellent work by Heymans.

Toulouse were within striking distance of earning an ill deserved victory and despite Leinster controlling the rest of the match they could not make the breakthrough and in the dying embers of the match Felipe Contepomi provided a rare moment in Leinster colours striking a drop goal that proved enough for a Leinster win.

Match Statis
  Leinster Rugby   Stade Toulousain
Tries Fitzgerald (2)   Donguy
Conversions Contepomi(2)   Courrent
Penalties Contepomi   Courrent (2)
Drop Goals Contepomi    
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Clement Poitrenaud
Luke Fitzgerald 14 Vincent Clerc
Brian O'Driscoll (C) 13 Florian Fritz
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Maleli Kunavore
Rob Kearney 11 Cedric Heymans
Felipe Contepomi 10 Valentin Courrent
Chris Keane 9 Byron Kelleher
Stan Wright 1 Daan Human
Bernard Jackman 2 William Servat
Stephen Knoop 3 Jean-Baptiste Poux
Leo Cullen 4 Gregory Lamboley
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Fabien Pelous (C)
Shane Jennings 6 Yannick Nyanga
Keith Gleeson 7 Thierry Dusatoir
Jamie Heaslip 8 Shaun Sowerby
Replacements Brian Blaney (for Jackman, 69) 16 Virgile Lacombe (for Servat, 64)
Cian Healy (for Knoop, 40) 17 Salvatore Perugini (for Poux, 59)
Cameron Jowitt 18 Romain Millo-Chlusky (for Lamboly, 58)
Stephen Keogh (for Gleeson, 73) 19 Jean Bouilhou (for Nyanga, 58)
Guy Easterby (for Keane, 52) 20 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (for Kelleher, 40)
Jonathan Sexton 21 Gaffie du Toit (for Courrent, 73)
Gary Brown 22 Yves Donguy (for Kunavore, 65)
Not Considered
due to Injury
Shane Horgan
Ollie Le Roux
Fergus McFadden
Chris Whitaker
Officials Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)
Sub Referee: Sean Davey (RFU)
Touch Judge: Robin Goodliffe (RFU)
4th Official: Des Woods (ARLB)
5th Official: Mark Gargan (ARLB)
TMO: David Matthews (RFU)
Citing Commissioner: Alan Mansell (RFU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2011-08-23