Le­in­ster se­cure home semi-fi­nal

The Rugby Paper - - Guinness Pro12 -

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.

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