Leinster pack power to European final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Leinster pack power to European final

By Alec Kennedy 03/05/2009 11:12:27 AM Comments (0)

Leinster upset the odds to beat the defending champions Munster and win their all-Ireland European Cup semi-final 25-6 at Croke Park on Saturday, in front of a world-record club attendance of 82,208.

Talismanic Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll set the seal on Leinster's victory with a 70-metre interception try 20 minutes from time as his side reached their first European Cup final where they will now face the winners of Sunday's match between Cardiff and Leicester on May 23 in Edinburgh.

But this victory was built on an immense forward display, which saw Leinster, often branded a "fancy dan" team with gifted backs but lacking punch up front, outmuscle their opponents' much-vaunted pack.

Tries either side of half-time from Gordon D'Arcy and fellow Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald had put Leinster in a strong position before O'Driscoll, who earlier this season led Ireland to the Six Nations Grand Slam, left himself on course for a memorable double.

Overlooked for the captaincy of the British and Irish Lions upcoming tour of South Africa in favour of Munster skipper Paul O'Connell, O'Driscoll, was also at the heart of a superb defensive effort which denied their opponents a try after several trademark mauling surges by the men in red shirts.

But although O'Driscoll was named man of the match, the centre said the award belonged to the pack.

"It was a little embarrassing. It was hard to pick one of the eight of them so I'll accept it on behalf of them," O'Driscoll told Sky Sports. "They were immense and set the platform for us to get our tries."

Leinster, beaten by Munster in the 2006 European Cup semi-final, had lost twice to their arch-rivals this season and O'Driscoll, amongst the ranks in a team captained by Leo Cullen, said: "We really felt as we though owed them one.

"People had questioned our integrity and our pride by questioning our passion but we produced a big, passionate performance today to try to quieten those detractors a little."

O'Connell had no complaints about the result, saying: "We were pretty much in second place in all facets of the game."

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