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Leinster's top 10 Heineken Cup ties

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Brian O'Driscoll at the centre of celebrations after winning their first Heineken Cup in 2009

Brian O'Driscoll at the centre of celebrations after winning their first Heineken Cup in 2009

Jonathan Sexton celebrates Gordon D'Arcy's try in front of Ronan O'Gara in the 2009 semi-final

Jonathan Sexton celebrates Gordon D'Arcy's try in front of Ronan O'Gara in the 2009 semi-final

Sean O'Brien on the charge against Clermont in 2012

Sean O'Brien on the charge against Clermont in 2012

Felipe Contepomi celebrates his try against Bath in 2006

Felipe Contepomi celebrates his try against Bath in 2006

Jonathan Sexton celebrates his try against Northampton during the 2011 final

Jonathan Sexton celebrates his try against Northampton during the 2011 final

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Brian O'Driscoll at the centre of celebrations after winning their first Heineken Cup in 2009

1 - Leinster 19 Leicester Tigers 16, 2009 final, Murrayfield, Edinburgh. The day that a Leinster team that promised so much finally came of age. Trailing 16-9 early in the second half and with Stan Wright in the sin bin, Leinster produced a stunning comeback that was led by a young Johnny Sexton.

Felipe Contepomi was forced to miss the game after he tore his cruciate knee ligaments in the semi-final win against Munster, thus denying him the send-off that his Leinster career deserved.

Sexton took his place and grabbed his opportunity with both hands. A monstrous drop-goal from the half-way line eased his nerves and a collector's item drop-goal from Brian O'Driscoll had Leinster 9-3 up early on.

But a Ben Woods converted try and a Julien Dupuy penalty swung the momentum back in the Tigers' favour as they scored 10 unanswered points with Wright in the bin.

Rocky Elsom was terrific throughout but it was Jamie Heaslip who sparked a brilliant comeback when he powered over for a try which Sexton converted to level the scores at 16-16.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, Sexton held his nerve to land the match-winning penalty to claim Leinster's first ever Heineken Cup title.

 

2 - LEINSTER 33 NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 22, 2011 FINAL, MILLENNIUM STADIUM, CARDIFF

A game that will live long in the memory of every Leinster fan but also rugby fans across Europe – this one had everything.

Trailing 22-6 at the break, Leinster produced another stunning second-half comeback to shock Northampton at the Millennium Stadium. Joe Schmidt's side scored a remarkable 27 points in the second period while keeping Northampton scoreless.

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First-half tries from Phil Dowson, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley had put Northampton within sight of what would have been a major upset but Leinster roared back to record the greatest comeback in Heineken Cup final history.

If Leinster's first final appearance two years previously had marked Johnny Sexton's coming of age, then this one was when he announced himself as a world star.

A total of 28 points, including two tries, guided Leinster to their second Heineken Cup in three years as they blitzed a Northampton side that simply could not live with the attacking threat of Sexton and Co.

Nathan Hines fittingly signed off his Leinster career with a second-half try as Leinster, remarkably, ran out comfortable winners.

 

3 - LEINSTER 42 ULSTER 14, 2012 FINAL, TWICKENHAM, LONDON

Leinster's first two Heineken Cup finals were (at times) nervy affairs, but this was a faultless performance that saw them become the first side to win three Heineken Cups in four years.

Not only that but the 28-point winning margin was the biggest in the competition's history for a final. Ulster were no match for a Leinster side who were a class above in every department.

First-half tries from Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy had put Leinster into a 14-6 lead at the break and any hopes of an unlikely Ulster comeback were quelled shortly after the restart when they conceded a penalty try.

Leinster's dominance was summed up when two of their replacements – Heinke van der Merwe and Sean Cronin – crossed the whitewash as the Blues set another record by becoming the first team to score five tries in a Heineken Cup final, as well as being only the second team to successfully defend the cup.

 

4 - LEINSTER 25 MUNSTER 6, 2009 SEMI-FINAL, CROKE PARK, DUBLIN

Driven by the hurt of the semi-final defeat to their old rivals three years previously, Leinster exacted sweet revenge on Munster by dethroning the reigning champions in front of a then world-record club rugby crowd of 82,206.

A first-half Gordon D'Arcy try helped Leinster into an 11-6 lead at the break and with Ronan O'Gara having a rare off day, the Blues sensed blood and pummelled Munster into submission.

Leinster had to overcome a couple of obstacles in the process, though.

Cian Healy was sin-binned for a late tackle on Ian Dowling, while Contepomi's time in a blue jersey was prematurely ended with that serious knee injury.

But Leinster remained focused on the task at hand in what was a cauldron of noise inside Croke Park. As he had been all season, Elsom was outstanding and he asked questions of Munster's defence throughout.

Isa Nacewa's last-ditch tackle on Doug Howlett was perhaps the turning point – minutes later he set up Luke Fitzgerald for a try. Sexton converted for a 12-point lead and the icing on the cake was provided by Brian O'Driscoll, who intercepted a wayward O'Gara pass before sprinting 70 metres under the posts.

 

5 - TOULOUSE 35 LEINSTER 41, 2006 QUARTER-FINAL, STADE MUNICIPAL, TOULOUSE

Not many people gave Leinster a prayer when they travelled to take on Toulouse, the reigning champions, in front of a passionate home crowd but the Blues turned in a four-try display that sent shockwaves around European rugby.

Twenty-one points from the boot of Contepomi guided Leinster to one of the greatest scalps in the competition's history as they saw off a star-studded Toulouse side.

O'Driscoll captained the side and played like a man possessed. He linked brilliantly with the Argentinian playmaker before touching down under the posts.

Leinster took a shock, but well deserved, 19-0 lead into the interval and afterwards showed terrific character to hold out after wave upon wave of Toulouse pressure.

When Cameron Jowitt intercepted a Freddie Michalak pass, the away supporters who travelled in their numbers began to really believe.

And so it came to pass. Further tries from Shane Horgan and a stunning effort from Denis Hickie sent the Leinster players and their fans into dreamland.

Two late Toulouse tries briefly threatened an unlikely comeback but at that stage, Leinster had done enough to seal one of the greatest away victories in their history.

 

6 - MONTFERRAND 20 LEINSTER 23, 2002 POOL STAGE, STADE MARCEL MICHELIN, CLERMONT-FERRAND

Heading into the game, Leinster had never won a Heineken Cup game on French soil.

To add to that, Montferrand had never lost a European game at home, racking up 20 consecutive wins.

But the history books were torn up and flung out the window in the 80th minute when Denis Hickie found himself one-on-one with Sebastian Bozzi. Hickie breezed passed the hapless prop to score in the corner to claim a historic victory.

Afterwards, it was revealed that Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey had paid the Leinster team a visit on the eve of the game.

Those who were involved that day still speak of how inspirational Carey's rallying speech was.

Getting over that hurdle of not winning in France was always a huge factor for teams' mindsets and once Leinster had finally done it, the confidence coursed through their veins.

As the final whistle went, Welsh referee Paul Adams had to be ushered from the field by stewards after being surrounded by Montferrand and their baying supporters.

A job well done in Leinster's case.

 

7 - MILAN 21 LEINSTER 24, 1995 POOL STAGE, STADIO COMUNALE GIURIATI, MILAN

The inaugural season of the Heineken Cup and Leinster's first task was to travel to Italy to take on a Milan outfit who were owned by a certain Silvio Berlusconi.

The arrival of the professional game in Ireland had been greeted by mixed reactions and in front of a crowd of just 600 people, Leinster's nerves were on show from the off.

Argentinian fly-half Diego Dominguez had a rare off day with the boot for Milan – missing seven of his 10 shots at goal.

Leinster led 14-8 at half-time thanks to a Conor O'Shea try but they were pinned back when Milan scored 10 points without reply.

Shortly after the hour mark, Leinster turned the game on its head when winger Niall Woods sprinted from the half-way line to score a truly memorable try.

Dominguez had the chance the level the game in the final minute but in keeping with his wayward afternoon, his kick sailed wide as Leinster won their first ever Heineken Cup game in the most dramatic of circumstances.

 

8 - AGEN 13 LEINSTER 25, 2006 POOL STAGE, STADE ARMANDIE, AGEN

After Leinster won their first away game in France four years earlier their biggest task was to build on that. Although that didn't happen overnight, their performance in Agen highlighted their growing sense of collective maturity.

Despite the scoreline showing Leinster as 12-point winners, the game was a much closer affair. They needed a late Andy Dunne drop-goal before Roan McCormack added an injury-time try to add some gloss.

Earlier in the game, Hickie scored another valuable European try. A piece of Fijian magic from Rupeni Caucaunibuca kept Agen in touch but Leinster were a growing force in European rugby and they showed admirable calmness to see out another hard-fought win on French soil.

 

9 - BATH 23 LEINSTER 35, 2006 POOL STAGE, THE RECREATION GROUND, BATH

Leinster needed a win away in Bath to seal the final quarter-final spot and a five-star performance gave them a bonus-point victory that stunned the home side.

Leinster scored three early tries through Shane Horgan, Felipe Contepomi and Will Green to build a sizeable 21-3 lead that few were expecting prior to kick off.

O'Driscoll turned in another sparkling performance and his second-half try along with Horgan's second of the afternoon put Leinster in complete control.

Contepomi converted all five Leinster tries, including his own, which was a beautifully read intercept from the half-way line.

The Argentinian's class really shone through that afternoon and his awareness to quickly tap a penalty in lieu of taking the three points ended with Horgan dotting down for a try-of-the-season contender.

Bath rallied late on and scored two tries but at that point Michael Cheika's side were long out of sight and on their way to the quarter-finals.

 

10 - CLERMONT AUVERGNE 15 LEINSTER 19 2012 SEMI-FINAL, STADE CHABAN-DELMAS, BORDEAUX

This was a meeting of Europe's two best teams who had built up a thrilling rivalry over the previous few seasons – and it lived up to every expectation.

Joe Schmidt joining Leinster from Clermont added to the occasion and the Kiwi maestro got one over on his old side in front of a heaving crowd in Bordeaux.

Leinster trailed 12-6 at the end of a bruising first half in which Vern Cotter's side threw everything but the kitchen sink at them. But time and time again, Leinster repelled them and after the restart got their just reward.

In what is now a trademark Schmidt move (as seen by Rob Kearney's try against in this season's Six Nations game against England) Leinster breached a Clermont defence that had been watertight all season.

Richardt Strauss combined with Kearney, who fed the onrushing Cian Healy and he stormed his way over the whitewash. Kearney would soon add a terrific drop goal to give his side a cushion that at one stage looked nigh-on impossible.

The final five minutes were epic as Clermont repeatedly threatened to cross for what would have been a match-winning try but outstanding Leinster defence and discipline ensured there was no way through.

To add to the drama, Wesley Fofana knocked on over the line, but Leinster fully deserved their slice of fortune.


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