James Lowe doubles in Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat in Toulouse

The joy of the penalty for Toulouse in Dublin last week, but a little more than the penalty after seven days. Leinster performed one of the most emphatic performances in recent European history to sink the defending champion and make it to the sixth final.

It was as dominant as the score suggests, and although Aviva Stadium was blue by the sea, painted red with Munster seven days ago, it could just as well have been green. Leinster is a test page in everything but the name.

They lined up with 13 Irish internationals in their opening XV and the same number of players in their 23 who presented themselves against France in Paris this year. Toulouse is not directly missed by the test players themselves, but despite all the threats from the counterattacks and their star man in the middle of the scrum in Antoine Dupont, they simply could not live with Leinster’s strength and attitude.

Leinster recorded four attempts, two coming from James Lowe, who is now one behind Chris Ashton’s season record 11. They were destructive in a crash, swarming with the intent of recent Saracen champions, and Josh van der Flier on. strengthening its reputation as one of the best openers in the area. However, Leinster’s game was above all neat, which Toulouse could not handle.

Johnny Sexton enjoyed an afternoon half his caliber should have experienced when his side was enjoying such a fast ball. In fact, he was far from alone in showing off his skills, but whether it was flat passes for the oncoming Garry Ringros or accurate kicks across the field on his back three, it was a sovereign performance.

The determination to ensure that they repaired their last defeat in 2019 by the Saracens quickly followed. “I never thought I’d get another chance, so it’s great and we’re so driven to put the fifth star on the jersey,” said the 36-year-old. “We made it to the finals, but that’s not where we set our ambitions.”

All considered, it was the kind of performance that would resonate until Lens, where Racing 92 will face La Rochelle on Sunday for the right to face Leinster in the final.

It remains to be seen whether Tadhg Furlong will be suitable for this match. With 17 minutes played, seemingly due to lack of experience, Ireland needlessly tripped an opponent just outside the penalty area, but the free kick that followed didn’t succeed.

Keenan then rushed to Toulouse 22, but the grubber of Jamison Gibson-Park was seized by Dupont, who found himself with a clear escape to the test line. If it was a reminder of the dangers Toulouse posed, it was also a wake-up call for Leinster, who had responded to Lowe’s and Van der Flier’s experiments half-time ago.

Leinster's Hugo Keenan rejoices over his team's fourth goal during the semifinals of the Heineken Champions Cup against Toulouse at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Hugo Keenan landed on Leinster’s fourth attempt. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile / Getty Images

Although Furlong’s departure secured Toulouse’s dominance in the scrum and support, they were unable to add Tomáš Ramos to the scoreboard. Dupont flashed in flashes, but a long time before the half-time, as Toulouse went phase by phase about halfway through, a stubborn pass that came in direct contact with their opening half. Emmanuel Meafou was in the trash at this stage, his frustration clearly overwhelming him.

Luck in Toulouse was still gone after the restart – Jack Conan was lucky to have escaped the yellow card for stunning Romain Ntamack – but if they feel they didn’t get their share of the decisions from referee Karel Dickson, there was no reason. why they lost.

Lowe’s second attempt came in half an hour – an attempt to cross Sexton’s long waist – and while Toulouse responded with a close-up attempt from a tractor over Selevasio Tolofua, the game was long overdue for them. Keenan’s late attempt – just desserts for his performances – gave the exclamation mark Leinster’s dominance.

In defense of Toulouse, and as Sexton pointed out, they played 100 minutes against Munster, returned home and back to Dublin, so it may come as no surprise that the petrol light flashed occasionally. Head coach Ugo Mola was generous in the defeat, but admitted that the home French league did not lead Toulouse to European success, as did Leinster.

“If I take the average [number of games this season] from Irish players and from French players it may be double, “he said. “Honestly, I think it’s the best competition, but the Top 14 won’t prepare us for this competition.”

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