Amlin Challenge Cup: Lethal Leinster crush Stade Francais in Dublin
Last Updated: May 18, 2013 8:02am
Leinster won their fourth European trophy in five years with a 34-13 victory over Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final in Dublin.
Backed by the vast majority of the RDS crowd on a glorious evening in the Irish capital, Leinster led from the third minute to the final whistle, handing Stade a lesson in finishing.
Stade dominated possession throughout, but Leinster - who made more than double the amount of tackles as their opponents - were brutal in defence and utterly clinical in finishing their chances.
Leinster, who hardly missed the injured Brian O'Driscoll, made a superb start, scoring the first try within three minutes. Isaac Boss sent Isa Nacewa sprinting through the Stade midfield, the full-back picked out Jonathan Sexton and the fly-half shipped the ball on to Ian Madigan to go under the posts.
Sexton converted, and Stade came storming straight back. The pack smashed at the line and it needed a superb, try-saving tackle from Sexton to stop Paul Williams from crashing over.
On 19, scrum-half Boss spotted Madigan lurking out on the right touchline, and found him with an inch-perfect crosskick. Madigan caught it, and offloaded out of the tackle to hooker Sean Cronin who rumbled over the tryline.
Shellshocked Stade, with Sergio Parisse doing his imperious best to muscle his team back into the game, dominated possession and were smashing Leinster in the scrum.
But they could not make any headway against a rock-solid Leinster defence. Jerome Porical banged over a penalty to finally get points on the board but Leinster, in contrast, were utterly clinical and they made it three tries from three chances on 27.
The third was almost identical to the second in tactics, but the personnel were different; Sexton provided the crossfield kick - to the left this time - Nacewa the catch and offload, and Rob Kearney the joyous dive into the left-hand corner.
Sexton rubbed salt in the wound by converting from the touchline - 21-3 - before Porical nailed his second penalty on the stroke of half-time to give Stade a glimmer of hope for the second-half.
Stade came charging out of the blocks after the turn, but Leinster weathered the early storm and instead it was Sexton who got the scoreboard moving again, splitting the posts on 52 with a penalty.
Sexton - looking every inch a Lions fly-half throughout - thumped over another three-pointer to make it 27-6 on 62.
Stade hit back on 65 - they shipped the ball right, wing Hugo Bonneval dashed down the wing and passed cleverly out of the back of his hand to Jeremy Sinzelle who crashed over in the corner.
Porical converted a beauty from the right touchline, eaving Stade two converted tries from parity at 27-13.
Kearney almost got Leinster's fourth with a blistering run to the left-hand corner but Sinzelle, with a miraculous diving tackle, pulled his left foot into touch.
But two minutes from time, Cian Healy bulldozed over from close range to seal the victory, Sexton adding the extras to ensure the Amlin Challenge Cup title is added to Leinster's three Heineken Cup triumphs in 2009, 2011 and 2012.