Sports Digest: Leinster to play Cardiff Blues at home in the quarterfinals of the Heineken Cup
A round up of sports news from the last week
Leinster will play the Cardiff Blues at home in the quarterfinals of the Heineken Cup after a 25-3 win over Montpellier at the RDS on Saturday when first half tries from Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney proved decisive.
“We have a home quarterfinal is the overriding verdict,” said coach Joe Schmidt when he assessed the province’s fifth win in six Pool Three games.
“I think when you get the stronger wind, like we did today, there is some pressure to get some advantage. A couple of nice plays came off for us to get a couple of tries and build a 17-point lead and I thought there was really good character to defend off our line the way we did.
“We just have to bide our time now, watch a bit of Six Nations and hope guys come out of that fully fit.”
Champions Leinster will now welcome Cardiff to the Aviva for the quarterfinals. Schmidt said, “We’re down to the last eight and we will need to go up another level because Cardiff will travel to Dublin in high spirits after their performances over the group stages.
“We were lucky to get a win in Cardiff City Stadium a few weeks ago and they didn’t bring a full strength side when we faced them in the RDS earlier this year, so with a few players to come back into their side they will be formidable opponents.”
Michael Bradley’s Edinburgh will host Toulouse and Saracens will be at home to Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup quarterfinals.
Munster or Ulster will then be home to the winners of the Edinburgh game in the semis while Leinster or Cardiff will travel to play Saracens or Clermont.
Munster will host Ulster in the quarterfinals of the Heineken Cup – and the winners could meet Leinster in the Twickenham final if they make it that far.
The Reds made it through to the last eight, and a home draw against their Irish rivals, thanks to Saturday’s emphatic 51-36 win at Northampton when youngster Simon Zebo grabbed a hat-trick of tries.
Captain Paul O’Connell was delighted with the win in England, but warned his teammates to keep their feet on the ground ahead of the Limerick date with Ulster in April.
“It was a very good performance, especially when you consider how much pressure we were under at the scrum,” said O’Connell.
“That has been coming for a while. We’ve been very close and it was very satisfying to see the back line finishing off a few moves. It’s right up there because it came against a good side away from home at the business end of the Heineken Cup.
“At times we have showed some good form. The work ethic has been there and I was very happy to see the backs finishing off some moves.
“We’ve proved nothing yet - we’ve just come out of our pool and won nothing. We’ve got a long way to go to emulate the teams of 2006 and 2008 who won the tournament.”
Connacht finally got the win they craved as they wrapped up their first Heineken Cup campaign with a narrow 9-8 win over Harlequins in Galway on Friday night.
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