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Champions Cup

Saracens Comeback Stuns Leinster

Saracens claimed their third European crown with a stunning win over Leinster

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Saracens won their third Champions Cup in four seasons with an incredible 20-10 comeback victory over reigning champions Leinster on Saturday evening.

The win was Leinster’s first ever defeat in a European final and ruined their chance to become the first team to claim five Champions Cup titles.

The game was a back and forth affair for the opening quarter with both teams looking to get off to the perfect start.

It was Leinster who broke the deadlock with only four minutes gone as captain Johnny Sexton knocked over a penalty.

However, it was not until just after the half-hour mark until there was another score. Following some serious pressure from the boys in blue Maro Itoje was shown a yellow card.

Within two minutes Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong, making his 100th appearance for the club, barged over to score the opening try of the match.

Sexton made no mistake with the conversion and it was 10-0 with 34 minutes on the clock.

Sarries, with only 14 men on the pitch took the game to Leinster and were rewarded on 39 minutes when Owen Farrell slotted over a penalty to make it 10-3.

As Itoje took his place back on the pitch the clock struck 40 minutes, and with Leinster in possession it looked as though they would lead going in at half-time.

That was until Luke McGrath decided to kick forward rather than put the ball into the stands and Saracens took full advantage.

They kept possession of the ball for a further three minutes, with the clock in red before some swift hands from the back-line allowed Sean Maitland to stroll over for a try in the left corner.

Farrell was perfect from the tee and suddenly it was 10-10 at the whistle.

The second-half started well for Leinster as they tried to retake the lead. A poor decision by Garry Ringrose, who chose to keep the ball instead of passing with an overlap, proved costly as they failed to take their chances.

Saracens were more clinical in attack and when Scott Fardy was sin-binned for Leinster after a number of penalty concessions near the line, the team in red struck.

Farrell landed the penalty from Fardy’s sin-binning and with only a couple of minutes left before the Australians return Saracens dealt the killer blow.

As Leinster failed to clear their lines a scrum were Saracens had a full eight man pack, to Leinster’s seven was crucial as they won their own ball and Billy Vunipola crashed over between the posts. Farrell added the extras and with only 10 minutes left it was 20-10.

Even when Fardy returned Leinster could not get near the Saracens line as the game finished 20-10 in the English champions favour.

The result means that Saracens have now become the most successful English team in the competitions history while Leinster remain with four titles of their own.

Both must now dust themselves down and prepare for the final stages of their respective domestic competitions as they fight to defend their Pro 14 and Premiership crowns.

Player Ratings:

Leinster: Rob Kearney (5), Jordan Larmour (6), Garry Ringrose (5), Robbie Henshaw (7), James Lowe (5), Johnny Sexton (7), Luke McGrath (8); Cian Healy (7), Sean Cronin (6), Tadhg Furlong (8), Devin Toner (6), James Ryan (6), Scott Fardy (6), Sean O’Brien (5), Jack Conan (7)

Replacements (5)

Saracens: Alex Goode (7), Liam Williams (7), Alex Lozowski (8), Brad Barritt (7), Sean Maitland (8), Owen Farrell (8), Ben Spencer (7); Mako Vunipola (6), Jamie George (7), Titi Lamositele (6), Will Skelton (7), George Kruis (9), Maro Itoje (7), Jackson Wray (7), Billy Vunipola (9)

Replacements (9)

Challenge Cup

Ulster name team for Northampton Quarter-Final trip

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad for the trip to face Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday (kick-off 8pm).

Michael Lowry is named to start at full-back, and is joined in the back three by Jacob Stockdale and Robert Baloucoune. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and Billy Burns and John Cooney are the starting half-backs.

In the front row, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Marty Moore retain their starting berths. Alan O’Connor will partner Kieran Treadwell in the second row. Last week’s Player of the Match, Sean Reidy, will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy skippering the team at openside and Nick Timoney at Number Eight.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea and Greg Jones will provide the forward reinforcements from the bench, with Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the back line options.

Ulster team to play Northampton Saints, Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, Saturday 10 April at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy (Capt.), Nick Timoney.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

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Champions Cup

Big names miss out for Ulster

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(Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Ulster match-day squad to face Gloucester tomorrow afternoon in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup has been named (Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm).  

The back line sees just one change from the side that played Toulouse last Friday. Michael Lowry, Jacob Stockdale and Matt Faddes all retain their positions in the back three. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume are the starting midfield duo. Billy Burns returns at fly-half and will captain the side; he will partner John Cooney at scrum-half.  

The front row remains unchanged for this game. Rob Herring is named at hooker, with Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore packing down at loosehead and tighthead prop. Alan O’Connor will partner with his brother David – who will make his first Heineken Champions Cup start with Sam Carter missing out through concussion. Sean Reidy has been selected at blindside, with Jordi Murphy returning at openside. Nick Timoney comes in to start at Number Eight to replace the injured Marcel Coetzee.

John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, and Greg Jones are the forward bench options. Academy player, Ethan McIlroy could make his European debut if called upon from the bench, and is named alongside Alby Mathewson and Ian Madigan in the back line replacements.    

Ulster team to play Gloucester, Heineken Champions Cup Round 2, Saturday 19 December 2020 at Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:  

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns (Capt.), John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney. 

Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.  

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Champions Cup

Ulster name strong side to face Toulouse

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(Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad for the province’s opening Pool game of the 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup against Toulouse on Friday (kick-off 8pm, Kingspan Stadium). 

In the back three, Jacob Stockdale returns from international duty to the left wing, joining Michael Lowry at full-back and Matt Faddes on the right wing. In midfield, Stuart McCloskey also returns from the Ireland squad to partner with James Hume. Ian Madigan has been named at fly-half alongside John Cooney at scrum-half. 

Having made his international debut against Scotland last week, Eric O’Sullivan, comes in to take the starting berth at loosehead prop. Rob Herring also returns from Ireland duties and is named at hooker, with Marty Moore retaining his position at tighthead. Alan O’Connor will partner with Sam Carter, who will lead the side from the second row. Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy are named at blindside and openside, with Marcell Coetzee completing the pack at Number Eight. 

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, and Matty Rea provide the forward options, with Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore and Craig Gilroy offering back line cover from the bench. 

Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Round 1, Friday 11 December 2020 at Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Ian Madigan, John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee. 

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Matty Rea, Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore, Craig Gilroy.

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