Leinster v Scarlets

Leo Cullen's side go in search of a Champions Cup final spot against strong Welsh invaders

RuaidhrĂ­ Croke Sat, Apr 21
 
LIVE: Leinster v Scarlets

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  • 14:28

    Good afternoon and welcome to The Irish Times liveblog of Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final clash with Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium. I'm Ruaidhrí Croke and I'll be with you for the afternoon as Leo Cullen's men look to book their place in the Champions Cup final. You can get involved by using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog.

    It's a perfect day in Dublin with the sun shining and temperatures reaching 18 degrees. Leinster are heavy favourites with the bookies to win today but it will be far from easy against a determined Scarlets side who are more than happy with the tag of underdogs.

    Team news and build-up to follow!

  • 14:34

    The teams

    LEINSTER:  Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Scott Fardy, Dan Leavy, Jordi Murphy.  

    Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Nick McCarthy, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.

    SCARLETS:  Rhys Patchell; Leigh Halfpenny, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Gareth Davies;  Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Samson Lee, Tadhg Beirne, David Bulbring, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay.  

    Replacements:  Ryan Elias, Dylan Evans, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Steven Cummins, Aled Davies, Steff Hughes, Will Boyde.  

    Referee:  Romain Poite (France).

  • 14:48
  • 14:55

    The players are out on the pitch warming up, although that wouldn't take much on what is already probably the best day of the year. It's been six years since Leinster reached the Champions Cup final and, as Gerry Thornley writes, all things going well they will bridge that six-year gap.

    Gerry Thornley: Leinster have enough to take the final step

  • 14:55
    Paddy This is not a banana skin situation. Fourth Semi Final and nothing big to show for it yet Scarlets are going to be formidable and motivated
  • 15:06

    Leinster's precision offloading has been second to none this season and, according to Matt Williams, it's been the key to their European run.

    Matt Williams: Leinster have become masters of offloading

  • 15:18

    One of the more intriguing storylines today is Tadhg Beirne lining out for Scarlets in what is turning out to be his best season to date. The Irishman slipped through the system over here but has since proved his worth in Wales. Gavin Cummiskey took a deeper look.

    Ireland debut beckons for tenacious Tadhg Beirne

    The warm-ups are complete and the players are on their way back to the dressing rooms for a final chat before the action commences!

  • 15:24
    There's a huge crowd over from Wales for this and. so far, they're making more noise than the locals. I'm sure that will all change when we get underway but the Scarlets team will be coming out brimming with confidence when they see the mass of red ready to greet them.
  • 15:29
    The teams are on the pitch, it's time!
  • 15:31
    1 min: We're underway at the Aviva Stadium! (Leinster 0 Scarlets 0)
  • 15:32
    2 mins: The Leinster forwards get one up with the first penalty of the day after a good catch from Devin Toner at the kick off. It's kicked to touch and Sean Cronin throws in on halfway but Scarlets win it straight back.  (Leinster 0 Scarlets 0)
  • 15:35
    4 mins: A few collapsed scrums eventually result in Scarlets gaining good ground into the Leinster half. The Welsh side look very comfortable so far and not intimidated at all by the not so neutral venue.  (Leinster 0 Scarlets 0)
  • 15:37
    6 mins: Scarlets' good work results in a penalty. Leigh Halfpenny steps up and slots it over with the minimum of fuss to give Scarlets the lead!  (Leinster 0 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:39
    8 mins: A superb spinning kick from Rob Kearney deep into the Scarlets half bobbles out of play and gives Leinster the chance to put some pressure on.  (Leinster 0 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:40
    10 mins: From the maul Gareth Davies goes to clear but Scott Fardy blocks it down. Davies recovers and eventually does clear but that was good work from Leinster.  (Leinster 0 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:41

    TRY FOR LEINSTER!

    LEINSTER 5 SCARLETS 3

  • 15:43
    11 mins: What a try that was! A lightning quick attack through the middle sliced through Scarlets' defence and allowed Sexton to find McFadden. He sprinted down the line but was brought down. The ball was recycled to James Ryan who drove for the line and managed to scuttle across. From a tight angle on the right wing, Sexton converts.  (Leinster 7 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:46
    14 mins: Leinster have really got going now and are battering the Scarlets defence. Henshaw has come back into the team like a man who never had any dislocated shoulder. Leinster are within five metres of the line again...  (Leinster 7 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:48
    15 mins: Dan Leavy eventually dives across the line but it will be no try after a knock-on from Cian Healy. Scarlets have a scrum five metres from thir tryline.  (Leinster 7 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:51
    18 mins: Scarlets are really struggling to cope with the relentless Leinster attack now. A penalty goes the way of the home team and Sexton slots it over from close range.  (Leinster 10 Scarlets 3)
  • 15:54
    21 mins: Scarlets finally get some respite in the form of a forage into the Leinster half which results in a penalty. Halfpenny makes no mistake and the Welsh draw within four points.  (Leinster 10 Scarlets 6)
  • 15:58
    25 mins: Leinster are absolutely ruthless and relentless. Sexton tries one of his trademark crossfield kicks to the corner which leaves Steff Evans scurrying back to the tryline, pursued by McFadden. The pressure of the Leinster man was enough to make Evans fumble and Leinster get the put-in to a scrum.  (Leinster 10 Scarlets 6)
  • 16:00
    26 mins: Leinster work the scrum well and Fardy drives for the line but he'd held up by three Scarlets bodies. The Welsh side are really struggling to deal with all of this pressure but they are still only four points behind.  (Leinster 10 Scarlets 6)
  • 16:01

    TRY FOR LEINSTER!

    LEINSTER 15 SCARLETS 6

  • 16:02
    28 mins: The pressure was always going to tell and tell it did with Leinster working a virtually identical move the second time around. Fardy's drive didn't quite get over the line but Healy backed him up and managed to roll his way over underneath the posts. Sexton converts.  (Leinster 17 Scarlets 6)
  • 16:07
    32 mins: Scarlets are pushing their way back into this a little bit. After some good attacking play they earn another penalty and Halfpenny slots it over. They're eight behind but are managing to keep the scoreboard ticking.  (Leinster 17 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:12
    36 mins: Scarlets are really making a game of this now and have stymied Leinster's attack. A good attack of their own down the left looks to open up space for Aaron Shingler but he fumbles at the vital moment.  (Leinster 17 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:14
    39 mins: Leinster pushing towards the tryline again...  (Leinster 17 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:15

    TRY FOR LEINSTER!

    LEINSTER 22 SCARLETS 9

  • 16:17

    40 mins: There's been that feeling throughout that, no matter what Scarlets do, Leinster will answer back fairly quick and answer back they do. A maul on the left leaves oceans of space out on the right wing for McFadden who is found by Sexton and he dives over. However, he has injured himself in the process and may not reappear for the second half.

    Sexton, whose kicking has been exemplary all day, slots over from a tight angle once again.  (Leinster 24 Scarlets 9)

  • 16:18
    HALF TIME: LEINSTER 24 SCARLETS 9
  • 16:24

    That's been a fairly dominant half from Leinster and they have one foot in Bilbao already. While Scarlets have made the most of the rare attacks they've had, they simply cannot cope with the relentless Leinster drives forward.  

    The Irish side are full value for their lead and it's hard to see them losing it from here.

  • 16:33

    41 mins: We're back underway at the Aviva!

    Jordan Larmour has replaced Fergus McFadden who was injured in the process of scoring that try.  (Leinster 24 Scarlets 9)

  • 16:35
    42 mins: Sexton goes for another kick through to the corner - this time to Larmour - but Evans gets to it first. However, he carried it over the line meaning Leinster get the scrum. Sexton's kicking has been devastating today.  (Leinster 24 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:38
    45 mins: A Leinster attack almost leads to a try but Beirne manages to turn it over at the vital moment with some excellent work. However, the Scarlets respite is short lived as Leinster come again...  (Leinster 24 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:40
    46 mins: Scarlets manage to clear the pressure after a high tackle from Ryan on Barclay. Leinster just continue to wear them down, however, and it's hard to see how Scarlets can answer back. This game is suiting Larmour more and more by the second as the Welsh side start to tire.  (Leinster 24 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:42
    49 mins: Sexton tries yet another up and under but Rhys Patchell makes a stunning catch. It's cleared but Leinster collect and attack once again. One way traffic.  (Leinster 24 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:44

    TRY FOR LEINSTER!

    LEINSTER 29 SCARLETS 9

  • 16:45
    51 mins: Sexton goes for another up and under to get Larmour away. Patchell caught ut once again but Larmour managed to rip it off him, starting an attack which ended with Fardy barelling over the line to put Leinster even further down the road to Bilbao. Sexton converts.  (Leinster 31 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:54
    59 mins: Leinster are not resting on their laurels at all. They're within five metres of the tryline once again with ball in hand...  (Leinster 31 Scarlets 9)
  • 16:54

    TRY FOR LEINSTER!

    LEINSTER 36 SCARLETS 9

  • 16:56
    60 mins: And this time it's Johnny Sexton! Some quick thinking from the outhalf allowed him to slip through the Scarlets defence from close range and touch down. He maintains his 100 per cent record with the conversion and Leinster are on their way to Bilbao.  (Leinster 38 Scarlets 9)
  • 17:01
    66 mins: Scarlets look well beaten at this stage. After getting within five metres of the Leinster tryline and a possible chance they fumble and lose the lineout. Leinster might try and run this.  (Leinster 38 Scarlets 9)
  • 17:04
  • 17:09
    73 mins: Leinster nearly get in for another try as Nacewa streaks down the left and feeds Kearney but he's pulled down just short of the line by Scott Williams. (Leinster 38 Scarlets 9)
  • 17:10

    TRY FOR LEINSTER!

    LEINSTER 43 SCARLETS 9

  • 17:12
    74 mins: We've gone to the TMO to have a look at whether Fardy came in from the side before pouncing over the line...  (Leinster 43 Scarlets 9)
  • 17:13

    74 mins: No try!

    Fardy is adjudged to have come in from the side and the try is disallowed. Not that it will matter too much at this stage.  (Leinster 38 Scarlets 9)

  • 17:15
    76 mins: Scott Fardy is announced as man of the match.  (Leinster 38 Scarlets 9)
  • 17:18

    TRY FOR SCARLETS!

    LEINSTER 38 SCARLETS 14

  • 17:19
    80 mins: It's too little too late for the Welsh side but it's a sweet try for Tadhg Beirne against his old team. Patchell converts.  (Leinster 38 Scarlets 16)
  • 17:20

    FULL TIME: LEINSTER 38 SCARLETS 16

    LEINSTER ARE IN THE CHAMPIONS CUP FINAL!

  • 17:30

    So that's that. Full speed ahead Bilbao for Leinster and they fully deserve it. From the start they were the better team and Scarlets never really had a chance. The dominant, relentless performance from the forwards was too much for the Welsh side and Leinster will now face either Munster or Racing 92 in the final on May 12th.


    Stay tuned for reports and reaction from the Aviva Stadium as well as a comprehensive travel guide to Bilbao if you're planning on going.


    Thanks for reading, bye!