Leinster will defend their European title against London Based Saracens in next month’s Champions cup final.
Flyhalf Johnny Sexton returned from injury to steer the Irish outfit to a fifth Rugby Champions Cup final, a chance to defend their title, win back to back European champions cup and become the first team to win the title on five occasions.
Sexton had not played since his last match in the final round of the Six Nations, a match where the Leinster fly half was decidedly off form. He returned to the Leinster side and delivered 15 points with his boot.
Toulouse were nullified in all areas of the game and failed to capitalize on their visits to the Leinster half, scoring only four penalties for their effort. A yellow card early doors for Scotland and Lions lock Richie Gray cost Toulouse as Leinster took advantage of their man advantage to score. Toulouse failed to make their numerical advantage count when Leinster also lost a man to the bin, a yellow for Robbie Henshaw for an infringement under the Leinster sticks.
Leinster will travel to the final reliant on their structured game of efficiency and accuracy to win through another championship and deliver the coveted silverware.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen said:
“I think our guys showed a lot of resilience, particularly as they got close to our tryline. They’re good qualities to have in these big games.
“There was great fight for each other. You could see the players, how much it means to them.
“I thought Sean O’Brien was really exceptional today. It’s not just his performance, it’s how he leads the group.
“In the week, the way he talks. How he understands the threats the opposition pose, both sides of the ball. In terms of dominating that contact area, he’s one of the best players to have ever played the game, certainly Irish guys.”
Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton said:
“During the week I felt like I was cramming for a big exam, I haven’t trained in a few weeks so I had to fit in a lot of work during the week.
“It’s special, but we don’t play to get to finals, we play to try and win stuff.
“We saw yesterday how Saracens dominated Munster and we know how tough a side Munster are. We’ll be up against it but we’ll prepare now for the biggest battle of our careers.”
Toulouse captain Jerome Kaino said aftr the defeat:
“I think our young group can take a lot of experience from that game.
“I think they were able to build on their momentum. We defended well at times, but we weren’t able to build on our momentum when we did get forward.”
Leinster’s Irish counterparts, Munster, tasted defeat in their semi final to a two-try Saracens performance as the London side put the Munster men away at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Billy Vuniploa, in the news recently for weighing into the Folau twitter storm, was booed throughout the match. The England 8 man has submitted to Saracens and RFU disciplinary procedure this week and has accounted for his misjudged comments in the Folau affair. He drowned out his vocal critics at the Ricoh Arena with a man of the match performance, sealed with a 71 minute try to put the game safe.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said:
“It feels good because we played really well. We knew it was the kind of game where you had to be persistent and we were.
“It’s easy to get frustrated when the scoreboard doesn’t reflect how you’re playing but the players could feel it building and we started the second half strongly.
“Most of the reason we couldn’t score a try is because of how brilliant Munster are defensively – we attacked as well we have for a while, we just couldn’t get over the line.”
Munster head coach Johann van Graan said:
“We got beaten by the better side on the day. We can’t fault the efforts of the players or the management.”
Leinster will face Saracens in the Champions Cup final at the 52,000-capacity St James’ Park on 11 May. Leinster will aim to become the first team to ever record five European titles while Saracens will look to make it a hat trick of wins following their victories in 2016 and 2017.