Leinster 40 – 17 Toulouse

the Irish province in their first Champions Cup final for three years after beating defending champions Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin; James Lowe (two), Josh van der Flier and Hugo Keenan score tries, while skipper Johnny Sexton picked up three penalties and three conversions

Last update: 05/14/22 8:24 p.m.

Skipper Johnny Sexton celebrates Leinster’s Champions Cup semi-final win over Toulouse in Dublin

Leinster reached their first Heineken Champions Cup final in three years after dethroning Toulouse with an emphatic 40-17 win at the Aviva Stadium.

The defending champions struggled to keep up with the pace of the hosts’ attack, with James Lowe, the tournament’s top scorer this season, winning two of their four tries.

Leinster recovered from Antoine Dupont’s score on a breakaway in the sixth minute to lead 23-10 at half-time. Lowe and Josh van der Flier both landed and captain Johnny Sexton scored 13 points.

The relentless speed of Leinster’s play left Toulouse, a week after their heroic penalty shootout against Munster, also in Dublin, racing to plug leaks and they also lost lock Emmanuel Meafou in the bin of sin.

Nonetheless, Tadhg Furlong’s 16th-minute injury start was a blow for the Irish province, with his scrum targeted by Cyril Baille and company.

Lowe’s 49th-minute effort – his 10th of the European campaign – was canceled out by Toulouse substitute Selevasio Tolofua with 15 minutes remaining.

Ugo Mola’s men continued to rumble but a closing try from Hugo Keenan, on the back of a Ross Byrne penalty, sealed Leinster’s place in the May 28 decider against Racing 92 or La Rochelle.

A first barrage from Leinster set Toulouse back, Matthis Lebel managed to deny Jimmy O’Brien a try before Sexton fired a penalty.

However, just as the hosts threatened again through Keenan, Dupont charged Jamison Gibson-Park’s spot kick and broke free from the Toulouse 22 for a punch score, converted by Thomas Ramos.

Sexton cut the gap to 7-6 and, while a Caelan Doris break promised more, Leinster were ruthless on the quarter-hour mark.

A line maul gave them momentum before Robbie Henshaw carried hard and Sexton’s inside pass saw Lowe score a seven on the short side.

Winger James Lowe scored two tries in the win at the Aviva Stadium

Winger James Lowe scored two tries in the win at the Aviva Stadium

Ross Molony sent Sexton through the Toulouse defense just three minutes later, the flyhalf finding Van der Flier, who crossed the line despite a tackle from Juan Cruz Mallia.

Although Sexton extended the lead to 20-7, Toulouse fought back with a big scrum and Ramos duly reduced the deficit with the resulting penalty.

Sexton then punished Francois Cros for slipping and, although a cynical Meafou saw yellow following a push from Garry Ringrose, Toulouse survived thanks to an offside against Henshaw.

The French giants held on with just 14 men left, but Leinster stunned them with a try on a Molony flight.

Gibson-Park followed to charge Mallia and the attacking waves ended with Sexton’s long pass putting Lowe down the left.

The gap was 20 points after Sexton’s well-struck conversion and Toulouse’s early attempts at a maul were rebuffed.

Pita Ahki lifted the Top 14 titleholders with a man-and-ball tackle on Sexton and the visitors’ forward power allowed Tolofua to tiptoe from a lineout, with Ramos converting .

Leinster substitute Byrne, however, overturned the insurance score and Keenan passed Peato Mauvaka and Baille with two minutes remaining, ensuring Leinster will have a chance of winning a fifth European title in Marseille.

Sky Sports

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