Leinster secure home semi-final
LEINSTER will go into their Champions Cup semifinal on a high after Josh van der Flier inspired his side to a big win over the reigning champions to guarantee a home play-off semi-final.
Leo Cullen’s Leinster take on Clermont in France next weekend looking to reach their first European decider since they made it three in a row against Ulster in 2012. And despite fielding 11 changes yesterday from their last-ditch victory at Ospreys, Leinster secured a home play-off.
Tries from Zane Kirchner, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Rhys Ruddock and Barry Daly were enough to secure another impressive win – Danie Poolman and Dave Heffernan scored for Connacht.
John Muldoon was playing his 300th game for Connacht and his team were in front inside two minutes when Craig Ronaldson hit a penalty.
Leinster came back with a try for Kirchner and built up a 12-3 lead when Adam Byrne intercepted a Ronaldson pass.
Ronaldson scored another penalty and then Jack Carty’s cross-field kick was pounced on by Poolman. Ronaldson added the conversion and the teams traded penalties before O’Loughlin got Leinster’s third try.
Ronaldson cut the deficit to 20-19 at half-time, and the home side scored first in the second-half when Heffernan dotted down.
Ruddock powered over almost instantly after Heffernan and Connacht never managed to re-take the lead. Barry Daly pounced on an all-too-frequent Connacht error to seal the win.