Leinster Sink Holders La Rochelle In Champions Cup Rematch


Leinster sink holders La Rochelle in Champions Cup rematch

Paris, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th Dec, 2023) La Rochelle began their bid for a third-straight Champions Cup title with a 16-9 loss at home to Leinster on Sunday in a repeat of last season's final.

Ireland winger Jordan Larmour scored the game's only try for Leinster moments after both teams were reduced to 14 men as Jonathan Danty and Joe McCarthy were sin-binned following a 12th-minute tussle.

Harry Byrne nailed the conversion as Leinster replied to Antoine Hastoy's early penalty for the hosts in driving rain on the Atlantic coast.

Another Hastoy kick reduced the gap to a point, but Leinster took a 10-6 lead into half-time as Ciaran Frawley replaced the injured Byrne and immediately slotted over a penalty.

Hastoy again cut the deficit for La Rochelle but two more penalties from Frawley, the second a monster 60-metre effort with time expiring, secured victory for the Irish province.

"It's only round one for starters, so it's not getting too excited at the moment, but we talked before the game that the conditions were going to play a big part," said Leinster head coach Leo Cullen.

"It was forecast all week, so we tried to prepare accordingly," he added. "That's the type of game it was going to be, a very hard game to chase because of the conditions."

La Rochelle have also made a sluggish start in the Top 14, losing five of nine games, and take on South Africa's Stormers next Saturday in their second Pool 4 fixture.

"Leinster were hungry and it showed," said La Rochelle director of rugby Ronan O'Gara.

"The best team won tonight. We had opportunities but didn't take them. This defeat must be used as a lesson."

Leinster, adjusting to life without the retired Johnny Sexton, are chasing a record-equalling fifth title after falling short against La Rochelle in successive finals. The French side won 27-26 last season to hoist the trophy in Dublin.

Only Toulon have won the tournament on three straight occasions.