Leinster secure home quarter-final
January 21, 2012
Sean O'Brien goes over for Leinster's opening try
© PA Photos
Leinster secured a home Heineken Cup quarter-final with a 25-3 victory over Montpellier in Dublin.
In blustery conditions, Sean O'Brien's ninth-minute try settled any early nerves and Man of the Match Rob Kearney used his speed and strength to nab his fourth try of the Pool stages. Montpellier had no points to show for a long spell in the home 22, trailing 20-0 at the break with Fergus McFadden booting the rest of Leinster's points.
Joe Schmidt's men went further ahead with a try from Cian Healy and, in a scrappy final half-hour, Martin Bustos Moyano kicked a penalty for the visitors. The result completed an unbeaten run through the six rounds for the Pool Three winners, who are guaranteed to be one of the top seeds in the knockout phase.
Leinster were forced into a late change with Schmidt not willing to risk Jonathan Sexton, who suffered a knock to his left ankle in the win over Glasgow Warriors. Ian Madigan came in for his first Heineken Cup start, distributing well early on as the wind-backed hosts enjoyed the early possession.
Purposeful runs from front rowers Richardt Strauss and Healy pinpointed the chinks in Montpellier's defence, and soon after a short burst from O'Brien - aided by Damian Browne - saw him muscle over from close range. McFadden added the conversion and a penalty to take the province into double figures, before Kearney sliced through off first-phase ball.
From a midfield scrum, Isaac Boss and Gordon D'Arcy combined to send the fullback through the defensive line and, although Paul Bosch hauled him down, Kearney stretched out his left arm to get the touchdown. McFadden made it a seven-pointer but good ball retention from the visitors' bulky forwards got them close to a first try, big Mamuka Gorgodze being thwarted by Leo Cullen and O'Brien.
Leinster held them up again through a series of five-metre scrums and assaults on their line, albeit with Browne being sin-binned for side entry at a ruck. It was a punishing period for the home forwards but the French outfit just could not break them down, with a steal from tournament debutant Jamie Hagan lifting the siege.
Montpellier captain Fulgence Ouedraogo infringed at a central ruck as Leinster finished the first half back in the visitors' half. McFadden rifled over the resulting penalty.
A sparkling run from Isa Nacewa helped Leinster lay down an early marker in the second half. D'Arcy went close to scoring in the right corner before Healy powered over on a muscular drive with support from Rhys Ruddock and replacement Mike Ross.
Kearney was inches away from scoring his second try, his attempt from a quick tap being snuffed out by the well-placed Alex Tulou.
Substitutions diluted the intensity slightly until a final spurt from both sides saw Montpellier get off the mark and Leinster fail to muster a bonus-point score, with McFadden lacking the support required to finish off the best of the chances.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the best images of the Six Nations weekend
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action