Leinster 34-13 Stade Francais, Amlin Challenge Cup
Ruthless Leinster win Challenge Cup
May 17, 2013
Date/Time: May 17, 2013, 20:00 local, 19:00 GMT
Venue: Royal Dublin Society, Dublin
Leinster 34 - 13 Stade Français
Half-time: 21 - 6
Tries: Cronin, Healy, RDJ Kearney, Madigan
Cons: Sexton 4
Pens: Sexton 2
Tries: Sinzelle
Cons: Plisson
Pens: Porical 2
Leinster's Ian Madigan crashes over for their first try, Leinster v Stade Francais, Amlin Challenge Cup Final, RDS, Dublin, Ireland, May 17, 2013
Ian Madigan goes over for Leinster's first score
© Getty Images

Leinster secured their fourth European title in five years thanks to a 32-13 triumph over Stade Francais at the RDS in Dublin.

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • Man of the Match: Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton offered yet another reminder of his class with an excellent display that will have brought a smile to Lions boss Warren Gatland.
  • Key Moment: Leinster set their stall out early with a try from winger Ian Madigan with only two minutes on the clock. Stade Francais' answer was pretty swift and incisive but fly-half Jules Plisson was bundled into touch just short of the line by Leinster winger Isa Nacewa. A score would have taken the wind out of Leinster's sails and given Stade priceless momentum but it was not to be and the game rapidly slipped out of their grasp.
  • Hero of the Game: Leinster fullback Rob Kearney was unlucky to miss out on the official Man of the Match honour having impressed throughout this contest. But Kearney's form and confidence will not be lost on Warren Gatland and the Irishman looks set to push Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny all the way for the Lions' No.15 jersey.
  • Villain of the Game: Assistant referee Ian Davies denied Leinster fullback Rob Kearney a sensation try - ruling he had put a foot in touch having swept through the Stade defence with an electric burst of speed. Television replays appeared to be inconclusive but the officials would not know because the incident was not referred to the TMO.
  • Talking Point: Leinster were at their free-flowing best at times at the RDS and Irish rugby fans must be hoping that coach Joe Schmidt can work similar magic when he takes charge of the national side at the end of the season. Can we expect Ireland to adopt an equally expansive approach under his charge?
  • Play of the Game: Leinster took a stranglehold on the game in a blistering first half showing that produced three tries - the pick of which was scored by fullback Rob Kearney. But it was crafted by fly-half Jonathan Sexton whose pin-point cross kick found winger Isa Nacewa who claimed the ball and shrugged off the tackle of Stade's Hugo Bonneval before popping the ball to Kearney who crossed the whitewash in mid-air. Sensational stuff.

The Irish province destroyed Stade Francais at the RDS Arena, running in tries from Ian Madigan, Sean Cronin and Rob Kearney to take a commanding 21-6 lead at the interval. Cian Healy came off the bench to score the fourth and Jonathan Sexton kicked 14 points as Leinster claimed the first half of a potential trophy double, with the RaboDirect PRO12 final to come against Ulster next week.

Like Chelsea with the Champions League and Europa League, Leinster tonight hold both continental titles simultaneously, although they do so for fewer than 24 hours. Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon clash with Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup final at Dublin's Aviva Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

Also like Chelsea, Leinster went into their final without a talismanic leader but, unlike John Terry, Brian O'Driscoll kept his decorum and did not pull on his blue kit for the trophy presentation. O'Driscoll was sidelined by a back spasm and his battle for fitness is sure to be a theme that runs through the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

Leinster were still able to field four Lions in Kearney, Sexton, Sean O'Brien and captain Jamie Heaslip, with Healy coming off the bench. All made their mark, which will have pleased Warren Gatland.

Heineken Cup champions in three of the last four years, Leinster had dropped into the second tier competition after finishing behind Clermont in their pool. But Joe Schmidt's side remain one of the most formidable teams in Europe and proved as much tonight with a brilliantly clinical performance in attack and defiant defensive display.

Leinster took just three minutes to hit their stride with a break from Fijian wing Isa Nacewa and Sexton sent Madigan over for the opening try. That sparked a breathless first half in which Leinster twice repelled Stade Francais, with fly-half Jules Plisson tackled into touch before O'Brien and Sexton combined brilliantly to deny centre Paul Williams as he stretched for the line.

Sergio Parisse was in inspirational form for Stade but Leinster withstood the French barrage and hit back in devastating fashion, with Andrew Conway rising above Julien Dupuy to collect a high ball from Isaac Boss before sending Cronin over for the try. Jerome Porical kicked Stade Francais onto the scoreboard but Leinster responded almost immediately.

Nacewa fielded Sexton's inch-perfect cross-kick and then slipped a pass out of the tackle for Kearney to dive over. Porical landed a long distance penalty just before the interval but that was rubbed out when Sexton struck two of his own in the second half to extend Leinster's lead.

Stade worked a consolation try for wing Jeremy Sinzelle, who drove his way through Kearney and Fergus McFadden, who was injured in the process, to score in the corner. Kearney, who had taken the opportunity to lay down a marker for the Lions full-back jersey, came within inches of scoring his second but he was just tackled into touch by Sinzelle as he reached for the line.

But Leinster were irrepressible and Healy drove over from close range and Sexton's conversion - his sixth successful kick from six attempts - rounded off an emphatic victory.

© Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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