Leinster reach Champions Cup final
|European Champions Cup semi-final: Leinster v Toulouse|
|Leinster (17) 30|
|Tries: Lowe, McGrath, Fardy Pens: Sexton 2 Cons: Sexton 3|
|Toulouse (6) 12|
|Pens: Ramos 4|
Defending champions Leinster will face Saracens in the Champions Cup final after grinding down fellow four-time winners Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium.
James Lowe’s smart finish and Luke McGrath’s drive over gave Leinster a deserved 11-point lead at the break.
Thomas Ramos’ boot briefly brought Toulouse back within range, but Scott Fardy burrowed over to convert a spell of second-half pressure.
An increasingly desperate Toulouse rarely threatened a comeback.
Leinster will be aiming to become the first team in the competition to lift the trophy for a fifth time in the 11 May showpiece.
Their trademark efficiency and accuracy was on full display as their well-oiled gameplan nullified Toulouse’s power and creativity.
But it would be wrong to credit only the collective strength of Leo Cullen’s side.
Prop Cian Healy and London Irish-bound flanker Sean O’Brien showed fine individual skill as their crisp hands helped spring Lowe for the first try on 14 minutes.
With Toulouse second row Richie Gray sin-binned for a cynical knock-on at the base of a ruck, Leinster exploited their man advantage with a mammoth driven maul from which McGrath emerged with the ball and score.
The home side’s defence was equally well-judged. Robbie Henshaw’s knock-on under his own post earned him a yellow card of his own, but averted a likely try with Charlie Faumuina poised to thunder into contact.
When Fardy, a late replacement in the starting line-up for Rhys Ruddock, barged over Toulouse’s realistic hopes were snuffed out.
Leinster: Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Sexton, McGrath, Healy, Cronin, Furlong, Toner, Ryan, Ruddock, O’Brien Conan.
Replacements: Tracy, E Byrne, Bent, Fardy, Deegan, O’Sullivan, R Byrne, O’Loughlin
Toulouse: Ramos, Huget, Guitoune, Ahki, Kolbe; Dupont, Bezy; Castets, Mauvaka, Faumuina, Arnold, Gray, Elstadt, Tekori, Kaino.
Replacements: Marchand, Baille, Van Dyk, Tolofua, Faasalele, Cros, Ntamack, Medard