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Leinster Blow La Rochelle Away With Lightning Start To Champions Cup Final

Leinster Blow La Rochelle Away With Lightning Start To Champions Cup Final
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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After the heartbreak of Marseille last year, much of the build up to Saturday's Champions Cup final surrounded Leinster's mentality, and their ability to stifle one of Europe's finest teams in La Rochelle.

The defending champions - coached by Ronan O'Gara - travelled to the Aviva Stadium with hopes of adding a second star, while Leinster were seeking their first crown in five years - and that elusive fifth star to boot.

If there were any doubts about Leinster's mentality coming into the game, they blasted them within a matter of minutes.

In one of the finest starts in rugby history, Leinster pulled a remarkable three tries on La Rochelle in the opening 11 minutes, in front of a buzzing Dublin audience.

Leinster enjoy dream start to Champions Cup final

The Aviva Stadium was rocking ahead of kick-off on Saturday afternoon, with swathes of Leinster fans joined in huge number by the travelling fans from France.

This was one of the most highly anticipated Champions Cup finals of recent memory, with the two teams so evenly matched, and the events of last year's meeting at the same stage hanging over affairs.

Leinster did away with any nerves - and then some - with the fastest try in Champions Cup final history.


A brilliant lineout routine found the prolific Dan Sheehan bounding down on the try line and, after a delightful side step, he went over to give Leinster the dream start.

There were doubts over the fitness of James Lowe ahead of kick-off, with the Irish wing coming through late in the day to find his way into the Leinster XV. He showed no signs of rustiness, finding touch with a simply sensational 50:22 to give Leinster a lineout just five minutes away from the La Rochelle line.

After a few moments in the La Rochelle 22, making good use of their ruthless attacking pace, Leinster had Jimmy O'Brien over for a second try in a mere six minutes.



Things somehow got even better moments later, with La Rochelle's Tawera Kerr-Barlow sin-binned for cynically stopping a Leinster quick tap. With Kerr-Barlow in the bin, Sheehan went over for a second try on 12 minutes, to give Leinster an astonishing 17-0 lead.

It was one of the most electric starts we can remember - not only in a Champions Cup final, but in any game - and left La Rochelle to mountain to climb in the near-70 minutes remaining.

SEE ALSO: Fans Dismayed As New And Confusing Champions Cup Format Announced

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