European wrap: Leinster cruise into the quarter finals

Charlie Talbot-Smith
14 January 2018

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Leinster became the first to side to make the knockout rounds of the European Champions Cup after putting Glasgow Warriors to the sword at the RDS on Sunday.

Leo Cullen’s side ran in eight tries in all in the 55-19 victory over their Guinness PRO14 rivals.

Scott Fardy and Isa Nacewa both bagged doubles and Leinster were sublime in attack, particularly in the first half as they ran in five tries before the break.

Jonathan Sexton pulled the strings to devastating effect in the victory but Leinster hardly missed a step when Ross Byrne came on to replace him.

Sean Cronin, James Lowe and Jordi Murphy also crossed as Leinster wrapped up a tough pool that includes Exeter Chiefs and Montpellier with a round to spare.

Glasgow Warriors did run in three tries of their own through Niko Matawalu (2) and Adam Ashe but they were largely powerless to prevent the Leinster onslaught.

It was less good news for Munster however, as they had to settle for a losing bonus point in Paris after a 34-30 defeat to Racing 92.

Jean Kleyn, Keith Earls and Chris Farrell all dotted down for Johan van Graan’s side but in the end it was the boot of Maxime Machenaud that kept the Parisians in front at the end.

Munster stay top of the pool thanks to the losing bonus point and will still go through with victory at home to Castres in round six next week.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Benetton Rugby were put to the sword after half time as Toulon emerged 36-0 victors at the Stade Felix Mayol.

Meanwhile, in the Challenge Cup Cardiff Blues sealed their passage into the last eight with a hard-fought 18-13 win over Toulouse in the Welsh capital.

Gareth Anscombe produced a man of the match display, scoring one try and making another for Tomos Williams, in an impressive victory against the four-times champions of Europe.

What they said:

Leinster director of rugby Leo Cullen said: “We’re very focused on a six-day turnaround first. The quarter-finals are three months ago, we will have a lot of guys away with the Six Nations so we need to manage the group who remain here.

“It’s a tricky period to manage. We just want to control what we can and get the best seeding we can manage.

“We started okay. The twenty minutes before half-time was really good. Glasgow were impressive at ruck but we knew there would be space elsewhere

“Our willingness to keep the ball alive was good though we got a bit loose in the second-half but we’re happy to get a bonus-point.”

Glasgow Warriors boss Dave Rennie added: “I thought Leinster were outstanding. They outmuscled us up front and used the ball really well. They were clinical and we didn’t defend well enough giving them a couple of soft tries.

“It’s such a tough pool and for Leinster to be so dominant has been really impressive.

“We had an awful lot of guys missing, there’s a dozen guys playing their first European campaign and the cavalry will come back in next weekend.

“There’s a lot of character in this group. We’re bitterly disappointed with today, especially that first half but we’ll bounce back and try and put on a quality performance next week against Exeter.”

Munster director of rugby Johann van Graan is still confident of a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup: “It is in our own hands and we are at Thomond Park next week. We are right in this competition and hopefully we can get a home quarter-final.

“It was a fantastic game of rugby, although as a team we are very disappointed to lose. We put in a lot of effort and the attitude of the guys was fantastic.

“We didn’t have a great start and but for one championship-winning moment we lost in the last five minutes we could have walked away with four or five points.

“I am very happy with the bonus point and we are looking forward to being back in Thomond Park.

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