Leinster are Heineken Cup Champions
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Leinster were crowned champions of Europe for the first time after edging Leicester Tigers 19-16 in a nail-biting Heineken Cup final at Murrayfield on Saturday evening.
Leinster dominated the early exchanges, working themselves into a 9-3 advantage through a drop goal apiece from Jonathan Sexton and Brian O’Driscoll, and a penalty from the former.
However, the game turned after the sin-binning of Stan Wright shortly before half time, Leicester racking up ten unanswered points whilst the Leinster prop was off the field, with Julien Dupuy slotting over a penalty either side of a try from Ben Woods.
But when restored to their full complement, Leinster regained the initiative and Jamie Heaslip leveled matters when he crashed over for a converted try on 49 minutes.
Sexton squandered a penalty to edge Leinster back in front moments later but he made no mistake when a second opportunity came his way with just over ten minutes remaining.
Leicester tried valiantly to restore parity once more but Leinster, inspired by yet another Herculean effort from star flanker Rocky Elsom, held firm to ensure that the Heineken Cup will remain in Ireland for another year.
Leinster made for the worthiest of winners. Indeed, the side which had dethroned Munster in the semi-finals with a remarkable display of controlled aggression again had just a little too much power and intensity for another of Europe's elite, the double-chasing Tigers.
And for a short period in the first half, Michael Cheika's men looked more than capable of overwhelming Leicester.
Indeed, the opening half hour was all about Leinster, and Jonathan Sexton in particular. Entrusted with the number ten jersey in the absence of the injured Felipe Contepomi, the young Irishman excelled, bossing the game with his incisive running and pinpoint kicking out of hand.
He was also linking quite effectively with O’Driscoll, who opened the scoring with a smartly-taken drop goal from right in from right in front of the posts.
Dupuy replied with a penalty for Leicester but there was no denying that The Tigers were struggling.
Their line-out was proving surprisingly vulnerable and Leinster were more than holding their own in the scrum, an area in which many had tipped Leicester to dominate.
Elsom was proving predictably difficult for Leicester to contain, too.
It was Sexton, though, who was running the show and it was he who deservedly edged Leinster back in front with a quite magnificent drop goal from halfway.
Moments later, he attacked the gain-line and off-loaded beautifully into the path of Gordon D’Arcy. The Ireland centre appeared to have generated sufficient momentum to carry him over the line but he was held up - literally - by a combination of Craig Newby and Woods as he attempted to ground the ball.
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