Champions Cup – Van Der Flier Inspired Leinster Rugby Win Over Sale Sharks


Leinster Rugby secured a 37-27 win over the Sale Sharks in Round 2 of the Champions Cup after trailing 11-13 at the halftime break.

Van de Flier scored Leinster Rugby’s first try in the Pool 4 clash and also made their second, finished by scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park, while centre Robbie Henshaw, flanker Ryan Baird and replacement prop Cian Healy crossed as well.

Sale Sharks rotated heavily from their Round 1 win against Stade Francais Paris, but they came out flying and deservedly led by two points at the break.

Fly-half Robert du Preez was at the heart of the visiting side’s performance in the first 40, notching two penalties and converting centre Connor Doherty’s try which he had made with an incisive grubber kick.

Leinster Rugby’s fly-half Ciaran Frawley kicked two penalties of his own but couldn’t convert the home side’s only try of the half which came via van der Flier in the closing stages.

Sale Sharks were down to 14 men at that point after prop James Harper was shown a yellow, and the hosts had also played with 14 for a while after Henshaw was sent to the bin in just the 3rd minute.

The visitors remained one man down at the start of the second period and Leinster Rugby took advantage once more, with Van der Flier slicing through the Sale Sharks defence before handing off to Gibson-Park to finish, Frawley missing the extras again.

He couldn’t miss the conversion for Leinster Rugby’s third score, Henshaw earning redemption for his early yellow with a well-worked try right under the posts.

The bonus point was secured by flanker Ryan Baird in the 62nd minute, with Frawley adding another two to send the home side out of site.

The youthful Sale Sharks side found renewed attacking energy and pushed for a second try, but Van der Flier denied the visitors when he held the ball up over the line and soon replacement prop Cian Healy added a fifth try for Leinster Rugby, young replacement fly-half Sam Prendergast kicking his first EPCR points with the conversion.

But it was the Sale Sharks who got the final two scores of the game.

They got over for their second after full-back Hugo Keenan was sent to the bin with minutes to spare, hooker Tommy Taylor finishing, before wing Aaron Reed broke away, handing off to replacement Tom Curtis to finish. Du Preez converted both, making the scoreline more respectable.

Sale Sharks will hope to bounce back in January when they play DHL Stormers in Round 3, while Leinster Rugby will continue their search for first place in Pool 4 against Stade Francais Paris.

Leinster Rugby: Tries: Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Robbie Henshaw, Ryan Baird, Cian Healy. Conversions: Ciaran Frawley (2), Sam Prendergast. Penalty: Ciaran Frawley.
Sale Sharks: Tries: Connor Doherty, Tommy Taylor, Tom Curtis. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Robert du Preez (2).

Leinster Rugby: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Ciarán Frawley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 James Ryan, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter. Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Joe McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Ben Murphy, 22 Sam Prendergast, 23 Charlie Ngatai.
Sale Sharks: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Connor Doherty, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Arron Reed, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 Rouban Birch, 7 Sam Dugdale, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Ben Bamber, 3 James Harper, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison. Replacements: 16 Ethan Caine, 17 Tumy Onasanya, 18 Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Nye Thomas, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Joe Carpenter.