Leinster beat Toulouse to keep knock out hopes alive

Leinster kept their hopes of a European Cup quarter-final spot alive with a crucial 20-13 win over three-time champions Toulouse on Saturday.

Toulouse at least came away from a physically bruising but entertaining encounter with a vital losing bonus point for finishing within seven points.

The result means the French giants remain first in Pool 6 on 15 points, with Leinster now in second on 12 points. Edinburgh host Leicester in the pool’s other game later Saturday.

In a tough match, Toulouse had lock Gregory Lamboley sin-binned for persistent infringements in the ruck, where Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman and man-of-the-match No 8 Jamie Heaslip were outstanding.

Luke Fitzgerald crossed for the first try of the game in the 33rd minute, seizing a clever back pass by Felipe Contepomi, whose conversion added to an earlier penalty.

Toulouse clawed back three points through Valentin Courrent for a 10-3 half-time scoreline.

The second-half opened at a cracking pace, with Toulouse wingers Cedric Heymans and Vincent Clerc troubling the home side’s experienced backline.

But Lamboley spilled one pass with the line at his mercy and Toulouse came away with only a Courrent penalty after a good 10 minutes of pressure.

Fitzgerald bagged his second try just minutes after that penalty, a Keith Gleeson chargedown setting up a series of forward drives that ended with Gordon D’Arcy firing out a pass to the winger who stepped inside Clerc.

Toulouse’s Ivorian replacement Yves Donguy ensured a tight final 10 minutes with a try Courrent converted after a sparkling Heymans run split the home defence.

Contepomi had the final word with a drop-goal deep into extra time, setting up a mouth-watering must-win clash for Leinster against Leicester next weekend.

In Pool 1, London Irish consolidated a 24-7 half-time lead to record a comfortable 41-24 win over Newport-Gwent Dragons.

The English side’s six-try win sees them sitting atop the pool on 19 points and looking well set for a first-ever quarter-final place with just an away match against group minnows Treviso remaining.

Glasgow recorded a narrow 18-15 win over Italian club Viadana to move ahead of Pool 4 rivals Biarritz ahead of the French outfit’s game against Saracens.

On Friday, Cardiff Blues beat Harlequins 23-12 at home to remain top of Pool 3 after Bristol, who had gone into the day lying level on 12 points, lost 19-11 at Stade Francais, who moved into second in the pool.

In Pool 2 action Ulster edged Bourgoin 25-24 for only their second home win of the season.

Sapa-AFP Rugbyweek.com

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