Leinster – London’s Calling

Leinster will play Toulouse in this season’s Champions Cup Final after a tight semi-final win over Northampton Saints in Croke Park winning 20-17. Leinster had full control of this contest on the scoreboard as well as the pitch as they led 20-3 going into the last 20. Northampton found a way back scoring two tries late on to give Leinster a nervy last few minutes.

Leinster will need to sift through the game and come up with a solution as to why they almost blew a 17 point lead in the final 20 minutes. It was a strong showing from Leinster with James Lowe scoring a hat trick of tries to help see them through.

The thing for Leinster over the next few weeks is about coming up with a game plan that will help stem a flowing Toulouse as they showed yesterday that they will score tries at will and they will also give you chances too which Leinster will have noted.

Leinster will be hopeful that Gary Ringrose and James Ryan will be back with them and fit before the end of the season. Jamie Osbourne and Ross Molony did a good job on Saturday but Leinster will be very hopeful to have a full deck to choose from come final time in three weeks’ time.

Over the next three weeks they will be fully focused on seeing out the last three rounds of the URC and consolidating there position in the table. Top spot has become a target for the teams immediately behind Leinster in this instance Glasgow and Munster currently. Leinster will need to finish strongly to top the URC and taking home advantage into the quarter finals in June.

Looking at where Leinster may need to change, will they keep Ross Byrne at 10 or give his younger brother Harry a chance over the next few weeks to put the pressure on his big brother to maybe force a rethink ahead of the Champions Cup Final. Ciaran Frawley is seen as a full back by Leinster given he filled in for Hugo Keenan on Saturday and in recent times also. Similar to Joey Carbery before his move south to Munster he was picked and played at 15 when involved in any Leinster 23 at that time.

Will they make changes in the second row and go with power with Jason Jenkins or James Ryan alongside Joe Mc Carthy, only time will tell that particular thing. Will Leinster opt for a 6/2 split over the usual 5/3. These are questions that Leo Cullen and his coaches will need to answer.

The battle at scrum half will be worth the entry fee alone with Antoine Dupont likely to face Jamison Gibson Park arguably both men are at the peak of their powers and both can lay claim to currently being the world’s best 9. They both like to play a high tempo, pace game which in turn means both back rows will be asked to create a platform of quick ruck ball.

The match referee will need to be on his toes for the occasion, The RFU will most likely provide the match referee although Nika Amashukeli did well in the Challenge Cup semi-final in Kingsholm and that performance should see him get the whistle in either final.

Toulouse will be looking for 6th trophy while Leinster will be looking to win Europe’s big prize for a 5th time. Both teams are there since day one and like there scrum halves could lay claim to being the world’s premier club team. Saturday May 25th will help us make that argument one way or the other….

The Tottenham Stadium in North London is the ideal location for an out of this world final pairing. Let’s hope that the teams will serve up an attacking brand of rugby that all rugby followers can be happy with. We have three rounds of the Top 14 and URC to navigate before this season’s Champions Cup final at 2.45pm on Saturday May 25th.

The FA Cup Final is also scheduled for that afternoon so that is another interesting side show that people need to be keep an eye on because EPCR may be asked to shift there kick off time from 2.45pm. It may not come to pass that either final will be shifted from there stated kick off times but still one to keep in mind….

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