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Leinster get Champions Cup campaign off to ideal start with bonus point win

Leinster got their Heineken Champions Cup campaign underway in good fashion with an away bonus po...

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

19:16 12 Dec 2020



Leinster got their Heineken Champions Cup campaign underway in good fashion with an away bonus point victory over Montpellier.

In a new format that will see an emphasis being placed on winning bonus points, Leo Cullen's men knew that they had to go out and put a big score on the French club.

They were dealt a blow before kickoff, though, as Johnny Sexton had to withdraw from the bench due to further issues with the dead leg that troubled him in Ireland's Autumn Nations Cup final against Scotland last week.

He was replaced on the bench by Harry Byrne, younger brother of Ross Byrne who started in the 10 jersey.

The boys in blue got off to a strong start, scoring through Josh van der Flier in the first five minutes of the game.

Van der Flier was the benefactor of some slick hands from the Leinster backline, which opened up space for him out wide to score in the corner.

The older Byrne missed the conversion, before having a second shot from the tee just four minutes later. He took the visitors to eight points ahead in the first 10 minutes of their Champions Cup campaign.

While Montpellier got the penalty back 10 minutes later, through the boot of Benoit Pailllaugue, Ciaran Frawley extended the lead for the visitors with a try on the stroke of half an hour played.

Luke McGrath put in the kick for Rhys Ruddock to collect, before offloading to Frawley who scored in the left hand corner. Byrne would miss his second conversion of the match, leaving Leinster 10 points ahead.

The visitors got the third of their required four tries for a bonus point with five minutes left in the half, as Dave Kearney capitalised off of some creativity from Byrne that he was lacking in the national jersey.

From a Caealan Doris turnover, Byrne got the ball and noticed the empty space in front of the winger. He put in a dinky chip for Kearney to chase, who regathered and scored unchallenged.

Byrne would score his first conversion on the night, taking the visitors' half time total to 20 points. The only other points of the half would go to the boot of Pailllaugue, who scored two penalties to keep Montpellier 11 points behind heading into the break.

The second half was a much closer contest for much of the half, with the first points coming in the 68th minute. Harry Byrne got his first points of this year's Champions Cup through a penalty to keep Leinster out of touch.

Leinster finally got their bonus point with just 10 minutes left in the game through the efforts of Dan Leavy.

Just five metres out from the Montpellier line, Leavy picked the ball up from the base of the ruck and powered his way over for the much needed bonus point score. Byrne missed his first conversion attempt on the night, and the visitors remained 19 points ahead.

Montpellier eventually scored their first try of the game with just three minutes left, as an error on defence from Robbie Henshaw allowed Gabriel Ngandebe to score for the hosts. Pailllaugue would draw them closer to the losing bonus point with the conversion.

Their hoped of a losing bonus point were dashed moments later, though, Jimmy O'Brien scored for Leinster in his debut in the final minute.

Byrne would get the final say of the match with the conversion to confirm Leinster's bonus point start to the Champions Cup campaign with a 35-14 victory.

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Read more about

Autumn Nations Cup Benoit Pailllaugue Dave Kearney Harry Byrne Heineken Champions Cup Ireland Johnny Sexton Josh Van Der Flier Leinster Montpellier Rhys Ruddock Ross Brne Scotland

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