LEINSTER tonight emulated Chelsea by winning the Amlin Challenge Cup to ease the blow of losing their status of European champions – and they did it in style.
Scorers: Stade Francais: Tries: Sinzelle. Cons: Plisson. Pens: Porical 2; Leinster: Tries: Madigan, Cronin, R Kearney, Healy. Cons: J Sexton 4. Pens: J. Sexton 2.
The Irish province destroyed Stade Francais, running in tries by Ian Madigan, Sean Cronin and Rob Kearney to take a 21-6 lead at the interval. Cian Healy came off the bench to score the fourth and Jonathan Sexton kicked 14 points as Leinster claimed the first half of a potential trophy double, with the RaboDirect PRO12 final to come against Ulster next week.
Like Chelsea with the Champions League and Europa League, Leinster now hold both continental titles simultaneously – though for less than 24 hours. Toulon clash with Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup final this evening.
Also like Chelsea, Leinster went into their final without a talismanic leader but, unlike John Terry, Brian O’Driscoll – who had suffered a back spasm – kept his decorum and did not pull on his blue kit for the trophy presentation.
Leinster took just three minutes to hit their stride when Fijian wing Ica Nacewa and Sexton sent Madigan over for the opening try. They then twice repelled Stade Francais, with fly-half Jules Plisson tackled into touch before O’Brien and Sexton combined brilliantly to deny centre Paul Williams.
Leinster then scored again, with Andrew Conway rising above Julien Dupuy to collect a high ball from Isaac Boss before sending Cronin over for the try.
Jerome Porical kicked Stade Francais onto the scoreboard but Leinster responded almost immediately. Nacewa fielded Sexton’s cross-kick and then slipped a pass out of the tackle for Kearney to dive over.
Porical landed a penalty before the break but that was rubbed out as Sexton struck two of his own in the second half. Stade worked a consolation try for Jeremy Sinzelle, who drove through Kearney and Fergus McFadden into the corner.
Kearney came within inches of scoring his second but was tackled into touch by Sinzelle. But Leinster were irrepressible and Healy drove over from close range and Sexton’s conversion – his sixth successful kick from six attempts – rounded off an emphatic victory.
Stade Francais: Porical, Sinzelle, Doumayrou, Williams, Bonneval, Plisson, Dupuy, de Malmanche, Sempere, Slimani, Lavalla, Mostert, Lyons, Rabadan, Parisse. Replacements: Vuidarvuwalu for Porical (54), Arias for Williams (73), Warwick for Dupuy (41), Wright for de Malmanche (30), Bonfils for Sempere (57), Becasseau for Slimani (80), van Zyl for Lavalla (67), Tomiki for Rabadan (80).
Leinster: R Kearney, Conway, McFadden, Madigan, Nacewa, J. Sexton, Boss, J. McGrath, Cronin, Ross, Roux, Toner, Ruddock, O’Brien, J Heaslip. Replacements: D. Kearney for R. Kearney (80), Goodman for McFadden (67), Cooney for Boss (80), Healy for J McGrath (52), Strauss for Cronin (52), Hagan for Ross (60), Cullen for Roux (60), Jennings for O’Brien (58).
Referee: N Owens.