Amlin Challenge Cup final: Leinster 34-13 Stade Francais

Jonathan Sexton congratulates Ian Madigan after the centre scored Leinster's first try

Leinster produced a remarkable display of clinical finishing as they beat Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final at the RDS.

Stade dominated first-half possession but found themselves 21-6 down at the interval after Ian Madigan, Sean Cronin and Rob Kearney scored tries.

Two Jonathan Sexton penalties extended Leinster's lead before Jeremy Sinzelle's score gave Stade some hope.

But Cian Healy's try sealed Leinster's fourth European trophy in five seasons.

Joe Schmidt's side will aim to complete a double next Saturday when they face Ulster in the Pro12 final at the RDS.

Stade's defeat leaves them still without a European trophy and means they miss out on a Heineken Cup spot next season after their struggles in this season's Top 14.

The French side must have gone into the game optimistic that they could win given that Brian O'Driscoll, Healy, Gordon D'Arcy, Richardt Strauss and Leo Cullen were all non-starters for Leinster after last weekend's bruising Pro12 semi-final win over Glasgow.

But, despite Stade having 69 per cent of the first-half possession, the contest was effectively over by the interval after Leinster had clinically accumulated three tries from as many visits to the opposition's 22.

Stade, prompted by Italy star Sergio Parisse, threatened several times in the opening period but too much of their running was lateral and poor passing, allied to superb Leinster tackling, meant that the visitors were unable to breach the line.

The opening try came in the third minute as a clever inside pass from Isaac Boss found a charging Isa Nacewa with the move finished off by Sexton's unselfish offload to Madigan, who dived under the posts.

After Sexton added the extras, the Leinster fly-half and Nacewa immediately had to produce defensive heroics to barge Jules Plisson into touch as the Stade number 10 threatened to score in the corner.

A concession of a penalty by Leinster prop Jack McGrath did result in another Stade attacking thrust but the Leinster defence was tremendous once more as Sexton and O'Brien somehow held up Paul Williams.

Stade's period of pressure was ended by Leinster in the 20th minute as Boss's kick in behind the French team's defence was fielded by Munster-bound Andrew Conway who offloaded for Cronin to score under the posts.

Sexton's conversion was followed by yet more more Stade possession in the Leinster half and Porical finally opened their account in the 26th minute.

But Leinster's ability to take their limited number of chances was emphasised again four minutes later as Lions squad member Sexton delivered a perfect angled cross-kick for Nacewa who offloaded for Kearney to dive over the line.

Sexton's conversion increased his team's lead to 21-3 and while Porical added a second Stade penalty in injury time, Leinster were firmly in control.

Two further Sexton penalties early in the second half further added to the pressure on Stade before the French club gave themselves a potential lifeline as Sinzelle scored in the corner after a Hugo Bonneval pass.

Plisson's superb conversion cut Leinster's lead to 27-13 and the home side's line was soon threatened again before yet another handling error saw the ball being fly-hacked down field.

With Healy, Strauss and Cullen introduced in the final half hour, Leinster regained control in the closing minutes.

Kearney looked to have scored his second try of the game as he dived over in the corner only for the touch judge to rule that there had been a foot in touch.

However, Healy sealed Leinster's success two minutes from time as he burst through some weak tackling to touch down with man of the match Sexton adding the extras to round off the win for Schmidt's side.


Leinster: Kearney; Conway, McFadden, Madigan, Nacewa; Sexton, Boss; McGrath, Cronin, Ross, Roux, Toner, Ruddock, O'Brien, Heaslip (capt)

Replacements: Healy for McGrath (52), Strauss for Cronin (52), Hagan for Ross (60), Cullen for Roux (60), Jennings for O'Brien (58), Goodman for McFadden (67), Cooney for Boss (80), Kearney for McFadden (80).

Stade Francais: Porical; Sinzelle, Doumayrou, Williams, Bonneval; Plisson, Dupuy; De Malmanche, Sempere, Slimani, Lavalla, Mostert, Lyons, Rabadan, Parisse (capt)

Replacements: Wright for de Malmanche (30), Warwick for Dupuy (41), Vuidarvuwalu for Porical (54), Bonfils for Sempere (57), van Zyl for Lavalla (67), Arias for Williams (73), Tomiki for Rabadan (80), Becasseau for Slimani (80).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

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