Leinster v Exeter Chiefs

Leinster look to seal vital back-to-back victories over Exeter at Aviva Stadium, follow LIVE here

Patrick Madden Sat, Dec 16
LIVE: Leinster v Exeter Chiefs

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Leinster's Champions Cup clash with Exeter at the Aviva Stadium.

    It's first blood to the Irish, with all three provinces so far unbeaten in their double headers with English opposition.

    Leinster delivered a display of power and composure at Sandy Park last weekend, grinding down the Premiership champions as they emerged 18-8 winners.

    A repeat in Dublin this afternoon would effectively seal their place in the quarter-finals, and it would be the first time they have won their opening four pool matches since 2004/5.

    It's a Christmas cracker, and 40,000+ are exprected to be at the Aviva to witness it.

    We'll be bringing you all the action throughout the afternoon - here's to a good one.

    Come on!!!

  • TEAMS:

    Leinster: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (c); Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Sean O’Brien, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Dan Leavy, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Jordan Larmour.

    Exeter: Lachlan Turner; Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ian Whitten, Olly Woodburn; Gareth Steenson (c), Nic White; Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Francis, Mitch Lees, Sam Skinner, Don Armand, Matt Kvesic, Sam Simmonds. Replacements: Jack Yeandle, Alec Hepburn, Harry Williams, Jonny Hill, Tom Waldrom, Will Chudley, Sam Hill, James Short.
    Referee: Pascal Gauzère (Fra).

  • Some reading before kick off at 3.15?

    You can read Gerry Thornley's match preview HERE.

    And he has looked at Leinster's thriving youth system, which is keeping all of the provinces plied with quality Irish talent. You can read that HERE.

  • As it stands, Leinster are sitting pretty at the top of Pool Three with three wins out of three. Exeter and Montpellier are tied in second place on eight points, trailing the province's 14. The French side are 36-26 up at the death against Glasgow, so a win for Exeter today is imperative if they want to make it into the knockouts.
  • 2,500 travelling fans at the Aviva today according to Exeter. Not quite the 10,000 which was rumoured but a decent effort nontheless.
  • Ulster got the ball rolling last night with a resounding 52-24 win over Harlequins at Ravenhill. John O'Sullivan was our man in Belfast, you can read his report HERE.
  • FT: Montpellier 36 Glasgow 26
  • 15 mins 'til kick off!
  • Leinster still sitting proudly on top of the pool despite that Montpellier win. Dominance can be asserted this afternoon.
  • Here come the teams! Plenty of seats to be filled.
  • Johnny Sexton get us underway!
  • 1 min: Good claim from Woodburn from the kick off. Exeter penalty, it's sent for a good touch. Early platform for the visitors in Leinster territory.
  • 2 min: Good ball for Exeter and they move it right. Lovely ball back inside to Kvesic and he nearly muscles his way over under the posts.
  • Great start for the visitors and a signel of intent. They recycle the ball well under the posts, White finding Skinner on a short ball and he crashes over.

    Converted by Steenson.


  • 4 min: Sexton is off for a HIA - not the best start for Leinster.
  • 5 min: Exeter enjoying early possession and retaining the ball well. They kick and Leinster look to play their way out - Ross Byrne is on at 10 in Sexton's absence. The hosts work it well and Nacewa has space on the left, he chips ahead but it doesn't bounce kindly and Exeter recover.
  • 7 min: Booming hit from Byrne and Leinster turn the ball over deep inside the Exeter half. Good rumble through the middle from Conan before the move breaks down.

    Yikes - Byrne got his head on the wrong side when he made that tackle on White and he's in serious trouble on the deck. He's walking off but looks unlikely he'll be able to play on - Nacewa will move from the wing to outhalf. Pretty desperate opening seven minutes.

  • 8 min: Exeter line out on their own five-metre but they secure the ball well and clear it well up to the 10. Good exit strategy from the visitors.
  • 9 min: Chudley is on for White who's in the blood bin. He box kicks poorly but Woodburn chases well and secures it ahead of McFadden. Exeter possession on halfway.
  • 11 min: Good passage of play from Exeter but the ball goes loose in midfield and Fardy pounces, the visitors then conceding a penalty on their 10.  

    Nacewa will go for goal - great kick.


  • 12 min: Sexton's race is run and he won't be reappearing. All hands to the pump now for Leinster.
  • 13 min: Exeter looking dangerous and working the ball well until Woodburn makes his first mistake and knocks on inside the Leinster 22. The hosts need to try and engineer some territory and possession.
  • 14 min: Sturdy scrum form Leinster and they move it left where Henshaw muscles his way out of the 22. The hosts kick and Exeter have possession on halfway, Conan making a great hit.
  • 15 min: Lovely offload from Slade to Nowell and Exeter are in the ascendancy. Exeter nearly get in on the outside but Larmour does well to intercept before conceding a penalty. Leinster defence being stretched all over the place here.
  • 16 min: Exeter go for the lineout but Cowan-Dickie overshoots.
  • 17 min: A surprising but very welcome return for Byrne. Leinster have been poor in the air so far, not competing at all - an overcooked kick allows Woodburn to field with ease.
  • 18 min: Cian Healy is a very stupid and very lucky boy. He's led with a forearm into Cowan-Dickie on the fringes of a ruck and it gets sent to the TMO. In theory it should be a red, but he escapes with a yellow.  
  • 19 min: Jack McGrath on while Healy is on the naughty step. There are worse replacements. He's involved early as Leinster scrummage well and release Henshaw down the middle. But then Luke McGrath comes under big pressure from Simmonds and his kick goes high and backwards, Exeter winning it and setting up camp inside the home 10-metre.
  • 21 min: Exeter have had ownership of the ball thus far and they are retaining it well inside the Leinster hald, patiently building up to and past 15 phases.  
  • 22 min: Disciplined passage of play and they bide their time before suckernig Cronin into conceding a penalty - which is sent into touch on the 22. The visitors smelling blood.
  • 23 min: Huge play from Toner, winning the Exeter lineout. But his good work is wasted by Luke McGrath's poor clearance, which Woodburn claims excellently.
  • 24 min: Poor pass form Steenson to Woodburn who seizes on the loose ball but then gets pinged for holding on. Sorely needed opportunity for Leinster to get some territory.
  • 27 min: Exeter lineout on the Leinster 10 and they get good ball, moving it left. Kvesic tries to sell McFadden a dummy but he doesn't buy it and snots the Exeter seven. Cronin is then up quickly on Armand and gets stepped, falling off the tackle and coming off worse. This has been brutal so far.
  • 28 min: Scrum penalty for Exeter. Healy comes back from the bin as Steenson points to the posts.

    Penalty is on the Leinster 10, slightly to the left. Good strike.


  • 30 min: Great work from Kvesic, tackling Healy then locking onto the ball, earning his side a penalty which is kicked into the corner.
  • Leinster really under the cosh. Good lineout ball to Armand and Exeter set the maul, hooker Cowan-Dickie emerging with the ball at the bottom of the pile.

    Steenson converts. And Fardy is sent to the sinbin.


  • 34 min: Finally some possession for Leinster, but Exeter's defensive line is good and they keep them at bay on the 10-metre.
  • 35 min: Patient from Leinster - up to 20 phases. Still good linespeed from the visitors though. O'Brien and Cronin make good yards. Byrne sees space in behind Woodburn and sends a kick over him and into touch. Probably kicked too early there.
  • 38 min: Kearney holds up Steenson in the tackle and earns Leinster a penalty. Great work. Nacewa slots a crucial kick. The hosts really needed that.


  • 40 min: Leinster win a scrum and they're going to try and sneak a score before half time. Patient build-up then Cronin makes a brilliant break on the left wing - the hosts up to the Chiefs 22.
  • 43 min: Leinster have a penalty coming, Byrne tries to stab a kick over the top - waste of possession. Nacewa nails the kick.


  • Given how that half went, Leinster will be satisfied to be trailing by just the eight points at the interval.
  • We're back underway at the Aviva!!!
  • 41 min: Another great take in the air from Turner and Exeter have the ball on the Leinster 10 but a good tackle sees the hosts earn a scrum. Solid set piece and they move it quickly, Kearney joining the attack form 15 and McFadden darting back inside off his right wing.
  • 43 min: Butter fingers from Kearney and Exeter kick up to the Leinster 22.
  • 44 min: Leinster under pressure, Exeter on the ball inside the 22. Nowell works it to Turner who tries to force his way down the outside but is well tackled. Exeter inside the five - they think they've got the ball down, the referee is checking with the TMO.
  • 45 min: Phew - replays show Turner was just in touch after he was tackled. Kearney has been berating the touch judge saying as much. Leinster lose their lineout ball but get away with it as Exeter concede a penalty. Good touch finder and the hosts have escaped for now.
  • 48 min: Leinster on the ball in the Exeter half, building the phases with the visitors on the back foot.  
  • 48 min: Good work from Cowan-Dickie on the floor and that big passage of play from Leinster comes to nothing.
  • 51 min: Slick hands from Exeter under pressure and they engineer some space for Nowell on the right. Slade flips a lovely misspass out to the left wing and Exeter are into the Leinster 22. But just as they are building up a head of steam Simmonds is penalised.
  • 53 min: Lovely move from Leinster, McFadden splitting the heart of the Exeter defence and bursting up to halfway. Exeter get numbers back with Kvesic holding the ball up well, taking the sting out of the attack.  
  • 55 min: Good little pick and go from Furlong gets Leinster some momentum out of nowhere, before Ringrose picks himself and puts the visitors on the back foot.

    Penalty Leinster. Nacewa to go for goal - gets his side back within a score.


  • 58 min: Big scrum from new man Hepburn who earns his side a penalty, which is nudged into touch. Good attacking platform.
  • 59 min: Flat ball from White and Exeter spill it forward in the tackle. Leinster clear to Nowell who skews a poor kick towards touch, but he gets away with it as Nacewa appears to get a hand on it before it goes out of play - but the ref thinks otherwise and awards the lineout to the hosts.
  • 61 min: Exeter under big pressure now as Leinster probe inside the 22, picking and driving inside the five.
  • 62 min: Mammoth passage of play from Leinster and they think they've scored as McFadden forces his way over - but the referee says it's held up.

    Penalty for Leinster though, an easy one for Nacewa inside the 22 and to the right of the sticks, and he makes no mistake.


  • TRY LEINSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Lovely ball slipped to Leavy who breaks the tackle and surges into the 22, offloading to Luke McGrath on his shoulder who scampers through to score.

    Nacewa converts - Leinster lead for the first time.


  • 68 min: This will be a remarkable win for Leinster if they can pull it off. Lovely ball from Slade nearly releases Nowell on the right but he's tackled by Nacewa. Ringrose picks off the offload but is quickly tackled himself.
  • 71 min: The momentum is with Leinster now and they're retaining the ball well on the fringes of the Exeter 22. 70 per cent possession for the hosts since the break.
  • 72 min: Woodburn has been imperious in the air today and he wins another high ball ahead of Van der Flier but he spills it forward on landing.
  • 73 min: Big play from Leinster and they earn a penalty on halfway. The ball is kicked to the corner but Tracy's throw is poor and Exeter emerge with the ball.
  • 75 min: Kearney finds touch on halfway. Platform for Exeter to engineer something.
  • 76 min: Danger for Leinster as Exeter have a man over and sweep the ball wide, Henshaw making a good tackle on the right wing. The hosts need to be disciplined here.
  • 77 min: Exeter retaining the ball well deep inside the Leinster half and they have the advantage. High tackle from Luke McGrath, Exeter penalty. Slade kicks into the corner from an awkward angle.

    This is the game here.

  • 78 min: Penalty Leinster! Exeter win the ball and set the maul but straight away get pinged for crossing. Huge moment.
  • 79 min: Leinster lineout on halfway. Time to play keepball.
  • 79 min: Brilliant carry from Van der Flier, absoolutely munching Steenson.
  • 80 min: Leinster keeping it short and tight. Nearly there.
  • What a win.  

    European champions elect.

  • Right, thanks for joining today! John O'Sullivan's report from the Aviva Stadium is now live.