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Leinster bidding to bounce back from quarter-final exit

Friday 11th December 2020

3:03 pm (GMT)

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Leinster bidding to bounce back from quarter-final exit

Johnny Sexton of Leinster lines up a conversion

Four-time European champions Leinster Rugby kick off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a trip to Montpellier, attempting to go further than their shock quarter-final exit at home to Saracens last season.

The 2018 winners had secured the No.1 seeding before falling to the 2019 champions at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Saturday’s clash can be found on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS from 17:30 (UK and Irish time).

Key quotes

Philippe Saint-Andre (Montpellier): “For us, this will be a high-quality game, the first at home against one of the best teams in Europe. It will be about making this a very high intensity game. We know that against said teams, you pay for every mistake. And often, speaking from experience, playing a game of this level in the European Cup, it’s like doing six months’ training. “

Leo Cullen (Leinster): “We’ve played against the Montpellier team in recent seasons, so we understand some of the power that they have, particularly in the forwards, and some of the quality they have in their backs as well. We know that they’re one of the most heavily-backed teams in Europe. They’ve quality right throughout their squad, even to the point where in the Ireland-France game in Paris, the last Six Nations game, Montpellier had five guys starting for France.”

Match facts

  • Montpellier and Leinster have met six times previously in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the French side winning only one of those games (D1 L4).
  • Montpellier have only lost three of their last 13 home games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W10), but one of those defeats came against Leinster, during the pool stage in 2017/18 (14- 23).
  • Leinster have lost only one of their last 11 away games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W9 D1) – after winning none of their previous six (D1 L5) – however, their sole defeat in that span came in France, against Toulouse in Round 2, 2018/19 (27-28).
  • Leinster averaged 8.1 attacking mauls in the Heineken Champions Cup last season, more than any other club, although it was Montpellier who gained the most metres per game from their maul in 2019/20 (23).
  • Leinster’s Josh van der Flier was one of just two players to make 100+ tackles in the Champions Cup last season (105, also Dave Ewers – 134), while his tally of seven clean breaks was the second most recorded by a forward (Alex Dombrandt – 9).

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Five-try Leinster cruise to away win in Montpellier

Saturday 12th December 2020

7:37 pm (GMT)

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Five-try Leinster cruise to away win in Montpellier

Leinster's Dan Leavy celebrates after scoring a try with James Ryan and Ronan Kelleher in the Heineken Champions Cup

Leinster Rugby’s quest for a fifth European star got off to the perfect start on Saturday evening as they secured a comfortable 35-14 win over Montpellier at GGL Stadium.

The 2018 Heineken Champions Cup winners were on top from start to finish, scoring five tries, including two scores for European debutants in Ciaran Frawley and Jimmy O’Brien.

It was Luke McGrath who got the Irish province on the move early, stepping and heading towards the Montpellier 22 before they moved play left and back to the right.

The ball eventually reached Josh van der Flier in acres of space and the back-row charged towards the corner, getting over the line before Montpellier could shift across.

The two sides then traded penalty kicks between Benoit Paillaugue and Ross Byrne, before a stunning step and offload from Rhys Ruddock released a pocket of space for Frawley in the corner and the centre managed to dot down for Leinster’s second try.

Paillaugue trimmed the lead again with two further penalties, but they were sandwiched between a third Leinster score from Dave Kearney, scooping up a cross-field kick from Byrne and diving over the try line.

Leinster would go in search of the bonus point in the second period and duly got it on 68 minutes, with the returning Dan Leavy managing to cross the whitewash after a series of powerful drives from the forwards.

Montpellier did respond with a first try from Gabriel N’gandebe but it was the Irish province who rounded off the scoring with a first European score from O’Brien on Heineken Champions Cup debut, picking up a breaking ball and sprinting clear to the line.

Leinster will take on Northampton Saints in Round 2, with Montpellier travelling to take on Wasps.

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