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Champions Cup

Leinster v Ulster: Player Ratings & Match Highlights

Leinster made it through to the Champions Cup semi-finals with a narrow win over rivals Ulster

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster came through an incredible game to slip past Ulster 21-18 in the Champions Cup quarter-finals at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night.

The win now means that the home side will face Toulouse in the semi-finals and leaves the prospect of an all Irish final alive.

Ulster got off to a flying start as they put in a couple of crunching tackles on the hosts and were rewarded for their pressure in first five minutes.

Garry Ringrose took the decision to kick even with Ulstermen chasing him, leading Iain Henderson and Rory Best charging the kick down for Kieran Treadwell to pounce for an easy try.

John Cooney slotted home the conversion and it was 7-0 with six minutes on the clock. A dream opening for the underdogs.

However, Leinster bounced-back almost immediately, going through the phases before Ross Byrne chose not to pass but to carry instead and in the tackle with an outstretched arm touched the ball down.

He missed the conversion to leave matters at 7-5 to the away side with only 11 minutes gone.

The high-intensity continued and Ulster captain Best went off after 16 minutes due to an ankle injury.

Byrne was handed a penalty opportunity in front of the posts 50 metres out midway through the half, only for him to send it wide once more.

Cooney had no such problems from the tee when given his chance from a Cian Healy penalty moments later, and instead of Leinster going ahead four minutes previous they were now 10-5 behind.

Just past the half-hour mark Byrne began to make up for his errors. Landing a penalty following a Nick Timoney infringement.

Another Byrne penalty soon after put Leinster in the lead for the first time.

Although it was the visitors who went in smiling at half-time with Cooney kicking his second penalty of the night to make it 13-11.

The incredible pace of the opening half continued when the sides returned, and Ulster should have stretched their lead five minutes in.

Jacob Stockdale flew down the wing following a pass on the blindside from Billy Burns, leaving Leinster men in his wake. He got to the try-line as Dave Kearney put in a routine tackle past the line as it looked like Stockdale had scored his seventh try of the tournament.

It wasn’t to be though, as replays showed that he had knocked the ball on while trying to place it one handed, and Leinster gasped a huge sigh of relief.

Within minutes that mistake seemed crucial as the host pounded the opposition defence before man of the match Jack Conan decided to have a pick and go from the back of a ruck and sprint forward.

He, much like Stockdale previously, left defenders looking at the back of him, all the while trying to pull up his shorts. He was eventually taken down by Stockdale only to deliver a beautiful offload to Adam Byrne, who finished off the move.

Ross Byrne delivered the extras and it was 18-13 to Leinster.

A long delay followed minutes later as replacement Dan Leavy, who only returned to action last weekend, went down with what seemed to be a very serious knee injury.

During that time Ulster centre Luke Marshall, who himself was returning to action for the first time since last May came on and with only his second touch of the game scored a fine try to bring things level.

Cooney stepped up and uncharacteristically missed the conversion as they went into the final stages at 18 all.

Ross Byrne went down with cramp on more than one occasion over the next few minutes, but when Leinster put the pressure on and earned a penalty, he took responsibility. Sending the kick through the posts to make it a three-point game with seven minutes remaining.

Ulster continued to search for a score, but it was Leinster who ended the game in the opposition 22, as they almost went over for a try, going through 44-phases before Luke McGrath kicked the ball out to confirm the 21-18 win.

After the game, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen admitted his relief at winning and knows his side will have to be better going forward.

“We are relieved to be through to the semi-final. I don’t think we were anywhere near our best. We know we are in two semi-finals, but it’s about how do we build cohesion and our levels of performance so that when it comes to those games, we give a better account of ourselves than we did today,” he said while speaking to RTE Sport.

The win means Leinster are in with a chance of retaining their European crown, but it may have come at a cost with Leavy’s injury and the possibility of losing Byrne to injury also. While Ulster will rue a missed opportunity to dethrone their rivals in what was an epic encounter.

Player Ratings:

Leinster: Jordan Larmour (6), Adam Byrne (7), Garry Ringrose (6), Rory O’Loughlin (5), Dave Kearney (7), Ross Byrne (8), Luke McGrath (7); Cian Healy (6), Sean Cronin (6), Tadhg Furlong (7), Scott Fardy (8), James Ryan (7), Rhys Ruddock (7), Sean O’Brien (6), Jack Conan (9)

Replacements (8)

Ulster: Michael Lowry (6), Rob Baloucoune (7), Darren Cave (7), Stuart McCloskey (7), Jacob Stockdale (7), Billy Burns (6), John Cooney (8); Eric O’Sullivan (6), Rory Best (6), Marty Moore (7), Iain Henderson (8), Kieran Treadwell (9), Nick Timoney (6), Jordi Murphy (7), Marcell Coetzee (7)

Replacements (8)

Match Highlights:


Champions Cup

Sio poised for Exeter debut

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Australia prop Scott Sio is set to start for his Exeter Chiefs debut as the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners visit Gloucester Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership on Friday night.

The 31-year-old, who could get his first taste of EPCR competition when Exeter travel to Castres Olympique in their Heineken Champions Cup Pool A opener on December 10, comes in as one of five changes to the side that started last Saturday’s 22-20 defeat to Saracens.

Captain Jack Yeandle comes in at hooker, with flanker Lewis Pearson the other change in the pack, while fit-again wing Josh Hodge is handed a start along with centre Rory O’Loughlin.

Gloucester, who welcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles in their first Heineken Champions Cup Pool A fixture, also on December 10, have made four alterations to the starting XV for their 22-21 win at London Irish a week ago.

Prop Harry Elrington and lock Cam Jordan are brought in, with Ben Morgan starting at No.8 as Ruan Ackermann shifts to blindside flanker. Lloyd Evans is also called up at full-back, with Santiago Carreras switching to the wing.

Leinster Rugby are the other Heineken Champions Cup side in action on Friday as they make the trip to Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship.

The Irish province are much-changed from their 27-13 victory over Munster Rugby last Saturday, with flanker Scott Penny the only player to retain his place.

Centre Charlie Ngatai, fly-half Ross Byrne, prop Ed Byrne and lock Ross Molony are all involved for last season’s Heineken Champions Cup runners-up, while Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Tector and Ben Brownlee are all potential debutants from the bench.

Content & Images from – EPC Rugby


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Champions Cup

Racing 92 v Leinster set for Le Havre

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The EPCR have this morning confirmed the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixture dates, kick-off times, venues and TV coverage, including the venue for the December clash between Leinster Rugby and Racing 92 in France.

EPCR had already confirmed this week that BT Sport, as well as RTÉ, ITV and S4C, have all agreed multi-year partnerships for the new broadcast cycle in Ireland and the UK.

BT Sport, who have been a partner since 2015, have recommitted as lead broadcaster in Ireland and the UK until the conclusion of the 2023/24 season.

In addition, RTÉ, has come on board in Ireland to provide free-to-air coverage.

RTÉ has already confirmed that it will broadcast both Leinster Rugby home games in the pool stages of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup on free-to-air on RTÉ2 television and on RTÉ Player.

The agreements with RTÉ and ITV, which will see each broadcaster cover one Heineken Champions Cup match per round in Ireland and in the UK – including the Final – on a free-to-air basis, also run until the end of the 2023/24 season.

Click HERE for the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures.

Leinster Rugby will start their campaign on Saturday, 10 December against three-time finalists, Racing 92, in Pool A and that game will be broadcast on BT Sport. The game will be played at the 25,000-capacity Stade Océane in Le Havre.

On Friday, 16 December 2022, at 8pm, Leinster Rugby will host Gloucester Rugby at the RDS Arena for the Round 2, Pool A encounter (live on RTÉ TV).

After the Christmas break, on Saturday 14 January 2023, it’s the return leg, as Leinster visit Kingsholm Stadium to take on Gloucester with a 1pm kick-off (live on ITV).

On the following Saturday, the final game of the pool stages sees Leinster welcome Racing 92 to Aviva Stadium with a 3.15pm start (live on RTÉ).

Ticketing information will be emailed to season ticket holders in the first instance with public sale thereafter.

2022/23 key dates

Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023

Round of 16 – 31 March – 1/2 April 2023

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023

Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023

EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby


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Champions Cup

RTÉ To Broadcast Munster Home Champions Cup Fixtures

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RTÉ have today confirmed fixture details for both of Munster’s home Heineken Champions Cup Pool fixtures against Toulouse and Northampton Saints.

See home fixture details below with details yet to be confirmed for our away games.

Ticket details will be released shortly.

Heineken Champions Cup Fixtures

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Round 1: Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

December 16/17/18, 2023

Round 2: Northampton Saints v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Round 3: Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

January 20/21/22, 2023

Round 4: Stade Toulousain v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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