253 : HCC final & 22/23 season wrap




Kevin Kelehan

The true impact of James Ryan on this team is now fully understood. Better team over 80 minutes won, without Ryan we had no answer to Skelton, ref had a good game. This was the 2011 final won for a second star by a team dead and buried after the first quarter. Jack Conan was again superb.

Andrew Bailey

Hugely disappointing. 17 points up and we stoped playing. Signs of panic Kicked so much ball away. Hard to see how this team progresses .Winning by 40 points each week is no preparation

Christy O’Connor

Sometimes teams need to win ugly and grind a result, Leinster need to learn how to do this. No point taking a big lead and not knowing how to defend it

James Griffin (Munster fan)

Hard luck Leinster folks. That was some start but LaR ground their way back in and then strangled Leinster with their power. I think they were helped in that by James Ryan’s absence (physicality and leadership), kicks out on the full, a blocked attempted clearance, some needless penalties / cards, and some wayward long kicking back to them. The slowdown in tempo from Q2 onwards helped LaR but hindered Leinster. Can’t understand why there wasn’t a drop goal attempt at the end; a try wasn’t needed at that stage.

Aidan O’Leary

We missed Sexton the leader as much as the player today.




252 : Harpin’ Preview Show – Champions’ Cup Final


Leinster : 15. Hugo Keenan 14. Jimmy O’Brien 13. Garry Ringrose 12. Robbie Henshaw 11. James Lowe 10. Ross Byrne 9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter 2. Dan Sheehan 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Ross Molony 5. James Ryan > CAPTAIN 6. Caelan Doris 7. Josh van der Flier 8. Jack Conan

16. Rónan Kelleher 17. Cian Healy 18. Michael Ala’alatoa 19. Jason Jenkins 20. Ryan Baird 21. Luke McGrath 22. Ciarán Frawley 23. Charlie Ngatai 

Stade Rochelais : 15 B Dulin 14 D Leyds 13 UJ Seuteni 12 J Danty 11 R Rhule 10 A Hastoy 9 T Kerr Barlow

1 R Wardi 2 P Bourgarit 3 U Atonio 4 R Sazy 5 W Skelton 6 P Boudehent 7 L Botia 8 G Alldritt (c)

16 Q Lespiaucq Brettes 17 J Sclavi 18 G Henri Colombe 19 T Lavault, 20 R Bourdeau 21 U Dillane 22 T Berjon 23 J Favre

Heineken Champions Cup 2022/23


Sat May 20 KO 4:45pm

Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Ref: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

AR1: Karl Dickson (England)

AR2: Christophe Ridley (England)

TMO: Tom Foley (England)

Live on: RTÉ2, BT Sport 2, ITV1

247 : Leinster v Toulouse wrap





Mark Jackson

Too disciplined

Too ruthless

Too good …next

Andrew Bailey

Great performance undoubtedly helped by Toulouse indiscipline. Extraordinary tactical failure to have the best scrum half in world along with Ntamack playing out of position for 60 minutes

Craig Grehan

A good win. Flattered by 2 yellow cards.

But, 2nd yellow proves without the “weight” toulouse didn’t seem that strong. (Except dupont)

Gavin Hegarty

Ok so just watched it back and have had time to digest it.

4 tries while they were at 14, but the first two were forward tried and it was Ramos in the bin. Can’t help but feel they kinda imploded and suffered by their lack of back subs but we dominated and beat them at their own game.

I was worried about ngatai, just hadn’t seen enough of him, but he was fantastic.

My 6 year old has watched Conan’s second try on repeat this morning, a dummy of sheer cheeky beauty, it’ll be done many times in the garden today.

Does jack willis’ header to Sheehan count as a try assist?

Byrne was class today, faultless from the tee, this run of high pressure games and form bodes extremely well for the RWC.



Higgs thought it was going to be tighter before the match then how it ended up. Ngatai  made a huge impact in the first half. Plenty of tired legs at the end of the match

JOC IMO, the really soul-crushing moment came when Ryan yoinked the lineout steal. Absolute confidence-shattering stuff.  “yay, I stole a critical Leinster lineout” “Nope” <yoink>  <Heavyweight pack shoved backwards over own line>


  1. England hang on to take the win | Scrum Queens [Alison Donnelly]
  2. Ireland fade in second half and fall to first wooden spoon since 2004 (the42.ie) [Lewis Stuart]
  3. Scarlets 17-35 Glasgow: Dwayne Peel’s side run out of steam as injuries take toll in bruising Euro semi-final – Wales Online [Steffan Thomas]
  4. European Professional Club Rugby | 14-man Toulon too good for Benetton (epcrugby.com)
  5. O’Gara’s La Rochelle set up blockbuster Leinster final (rte.ie)




LEI 41-22 TLS

LAR 47-28 EXE



SCA 17-35 GLA

TLN 23-0 BEN


Fri May 19 : Glasgow Warriors v Toulon

Sat May 20 : Leinster v La Rochelle




246 : Harpin’ Preview Show – Leinster v Toulouse

Leinster : 15. Hugo Keenan 14. Jordan Larmour 13. Garry Ringrose 12. Charlie Ngatai 11. Jimmy O’Brien 10. Ross Byrne 9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter 2. Dan Sheehan 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Ross Molony 5. James Ryan (c) 6. Caelan Doris 7. Josh van der Flier 8. Jack Conan

16. John McKee 17. Cian Healy 18. Michael Ala’alatoa 19. Jason Jenkins 20. Ryan Baird 21. Luke McGrath 22. Harry Byrne 23. Ciarán Frawley. 

Toulouse : 15 T Ramos 14 JC Mailla 13 PL Barassi 12 P Ahki 11 M Lebel 10 R Ntamack 9 A Dupont

1 C Baille 2 P Mauvaka 3 D Aldegheri 4 R Arnold 5 E Meafou 6 J Willis 7 T Flament 8 F Cros

16 J Marchand 17 R Neti 18 D Ainu’u 19 A Roumat 20 R Elstadt 21 A Placines 22 P Graou 23 A Retière

Heineken Champions Cup 2022/23


Sat Apr 29 KO 3pm

Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Ref: Wayne Barnes (England) 

AR1: Luke Pearce (England) 

AR2: Adam Leal (England) 

TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

Live on: RTÉ2, BT Sport 3

Click here for our latest “Throwback Thursday” article when we looked back to Leinster v Toulouse 2019

Throwback Thursday : LEIvTLS (2019 HCC semifinal)

I know we played Toulouse just last season but for our latest TT I thought it best to go back a bit further to 2019 when we met them in the final four having already played them home and away in the pool phase.


Defeat by 17 in Edinburgh. Narrow 3-point win over a determined Ulster side at the Aviva.  Failure to win at the RDS for two successive Saturdays.

That’s not exactly the kind of run we Leinster fans have gotten used to over the years, and coming as it did right after Ireland’s disappointment in Cardiff to round out the Six Nations, we’d be forgiven for having our expectation levels set at ‘apprehensive’ going into this Easter Sunday battle with our fellow four-star bearers. 

But if our experience under the Cullen/Lancaster ticket has taught us anything, it’s that they know how to dig deep and find our A game when a big occasion demands it of them.  And there was a hint of that in the run I mention above because on the one day the result actually meant something to Leinster’s season, we managed to find a way to win. 

But with all due respect to our northern cousins, this semifinal was a step up again.  Three of our titles have been won since Toulouse earned their fourth, yet this season they were starting to show that kind of form again, as we saw ourselves back in October, and the entire Top 14 has seen throughout the domestic campaign. 

It was pretty clear that if there was even a hint of the lack of accuracy on Sunday that we had shown in recent weeks, we would be punished. And while we have been welcoming a host of our ‘elite’ squad members back to the first team lately, it was essential that they hit the ground running. 

What a curious opening spell it was. For the first ten minutes we had only about three phases of possession, while our guests had built series of 6, 8 and 9 – yet thanks to our stringent defence, we came out of it with the scores level at 3-3. 

Then came the game’s first major unforced error, when Toulouse’s full back Thomas Ramos put his restart over our end line giving us a scrum at halfway. 

We had an earlier put in but it resulted in a free kick which Conan tapped quickly, so after twelve whole minutes we finally found ourselves in an attacking situation, or to put it another way, we had an opportunity to show the rest of Europe just how able we were to put the previous four weeks behind us. 

What followed gave everyone the answer and then some.  10 well-thought out phases, with carries accompanied by good clear-outs, gain-lines broken regularly, offloads timed to perfection especially by Cian Healy, and eventually James Lowe, who probably wouldn’t have featured had Jamison Gibson-Park been fit, showed his usual mix of pace, strength and determination to get the ball down. 

Now we know for sure which Leinster team has turned up.  The only question left that needed answering was could the French outfit raise their game to meet us. 

For me, that had already been answered.  In that first pool meeting in round 2, they threw the kitchen sink at us and prevailed by just one point.  In the return fixture in January, I felt they tried to adjust their game to knock us off our stride and failed badly. 

Here I think they may have been guilty yet again of showing us too much respect.  To be fair, they were without Zach Holmes and Ntamack was carrying a knock, but for me if an out half is good enough for the bench he should be good enough to start. 

Antoine Duponte is a pesky scrum half who can definitely out shine his 10 on occasion and having impressed against Racing in the quarterfinals, there was definitely a case for him to do a job in the playmaker role. 

But while we were setting about finding our best game, they appeared to be hell bent on tinkering with theirs, and if you’re going to do that on a stage like this one, you have to be absolutely sure it’s going to work.  And it didn’t. 

A look at Leinster’s defensive charts might raise an eyebrow as ten of our starters were ‘credited’ with more than one missed tackle.  But as often is the case when crunching these numbers, it doesn’t tell the whole story.  A high percentage of those missed ones were made up for by tackles made by a team mate.  

We were generally hunting in groups of two or three, and often the offloads we would expect from Toulouse weren’t forthcoming.   Conan led with 18 tackles, both our starting locks had 16 and perhaps most crucially our centres had 25 between them, with one or two by Ringrose proving particularly key. 

So attack after attack was being shut down, even when faced by the ridiculous pace and guile of Kolbe, who after a couple of trademark runs made some inroads, grubbered one along the touchline only to be tidied by Jordan Larmour. 

In the ensuing play, we had one of those rare moments on a rugby pitch when you can throw the ball forward to a team-mate and it can legally benefit you. I always thought this was an area that needed tidying up in the laws, but I wasn’t complaining when Larmour ran with the ball from behind his try line before chucking it ahead to James Lowe for him to take the drop out. 

Always full of confidence to try something to catch the opposition napping, Lowe dinked a mini drop kick to himself and retained possession for us, and when the ball eventually went through the backs, Robbie Henshaw spotted a gaping hole in the Toulouse backfield and booted a monster kick to find touch on the far side of the pitch. 

Yoann Huget retrieved the ball and was clearly keen to get keep the tempo moving so he took a quick throw and found Ramos.  Maybe the full back had his overcooked restart on his mind, or maybe he was generally affected by not being trusted with the 10 jersey, but whatever the reason he hesitated and his kick was not only charged down, but pretty much the entire Leinster pack smelled blood in the water and eventually a combination of Fardy, Toner and Ryan wrapped him up in his own 22 to force a scrum. 

So to summarise, from a situation where Toulouse’s danger man was running at us at pace in our 22, just moments later we had won an attacking set piece way down the other end of the park. Now we needed to go for the kill and turn this territory into more points. 

I’m sure Richie Gray has gone over this moment in his mind several times, even after his 10-minute spell on the naughty step.  And I actually think he was making a conscious effort to show Wayne Barnes he had no intention of waving his hand at the ball on the floor of the ruck yet his hand did it anyway.  So to make matters even worse for his team, we now had an extra man into the bargain. 

And with the iron even hotter than the Dublin Easter sun, we struck. Lineout, maul, over the line, Luke McGrath try.  Just like that, we’re up by fourteen in a match I thought for sure would never have a margin of more than seven either way. 

But here’s the thing – while this was definitely a day when we brought our A game, that doesn’t mean we always showed it.  A lineout would go awry here, a carrier would get himself isolated there, and immediately after our second try Devin Toner struggled with the sun in his eyes and knocked on the restart.  Time for Toulouse to have the prime attacking position. 

And the repetition was to continue when a Leinster hand got in the way of a Toulouse attacking move.  While pounding our try line with carry after carry, a pass to their prop Faumuina was swatted at by Robbie Henshaw and Barnes rightly flashed his yellow once more. 

Was that a penalty try?  There was certainly a case for it.  Had the prop taken the ball his run would have gotten him over the line.  That said, had he taken the ball then Scott Fardy and Johnny Sexton were in position to get under him.  Call me biased if you want but I’m not sure that was a certain try. 

But whatever about that debate, there was definitely a big game error from the French outfit when they sent the kicking tee onto the pitch before properly taking in the situation.  

Had they considered that it was now 14 v 14 surely a kick to the corner was the way to go, yet they had to make do with just the three points, and despite the clock reaching 46 before the halftime whistle blew (thanks to a James Lowe try that was rightly disallowed for a block by Conan), there was to be no further score in the half. 

Notice how long it took me to mention the name of Sexton?  And even then it was in a defensive context?  That might seem odd seeing how he was named man of the match, but that doesn’t mean I think he was unworthy.  It was one of his more understated performances all round, but it was still one that was in stark contrast to the distinctly-less-than-assured outing by his opposite number. 

This put the French coaches into one of those halftime quandries…do we leave things as they are and hope they work out or do we make a switch and admit we were wrong?  Well they went for the former and the decision got exactly what it deserved when Duponte threw a pass straight into touch on 48m.  Whatever out half prowess he had displayed before, he just couldn’t find it on this day. 

And from there, Leinster’s ability to work their way to a crucial score kicked in once more.  From the lineout following the Duponte error we stretched their defence through 6 phases before Sexton slipped through an immaculate grubber that sat up perfectly in the 22 forcing Kolbe to play it. 

Now on an average day, even deep in his own corner, you wouldn’t bet against the Springbok dancing his way down to the other end of the pitch in a matter of seconds, but further proof the writing was on the wall for Toulouse came when that man Ramos mucked things up again by colliding with his team mate and forcing him into touch – suddenly it’s a lineout to Leinster within sight of the try line. 

A penalty advantage and a bunch of phases later, this time it was Scott Fardy crashing over, and with nerves of steel his captain Sexton slotted over the crucial extras meaning the visitors now needed three scores to catch up with us. 

NOW they make the switch, bringing on Ntamack and moving Duponte back to 9.  Gate locked, horse bolted? 

Well they did manage to switch on their famed offloading game and it was having an effect, with series of 13 then 11 phases getting them deep into our 22 before Médard, another who surely could/should have started, dinked one over our defensive line only for Garry Ringrose to make a last gasp lunge for the ball and force a simultaneous touch down. 

All they could take from the visit was another three points and such was the order of the day.  Sexton added another penalty minutes later to restore the lead and was immediately replaced by Ross Byrne, who got his own name on the score sheet with a penalty with minutes to go. 

The final fifteen minutes were way more comfortable than anyone could have imagined going into the match.  Ironically the last touch of the game went to young Hugh O’Sullivan, on for Luke McGrath in the closing stages, and possibly thanks to the form of James Lowe, set to take part in a European final in a few weeks. 

So after a run of disappointing results, Leinster certainly found a way to produce the goods when it mattered.  But despite the impressive display, it was clear at times that we had another level to reach for as well, and with Saracens awaiting for us in Newcastle, we will have to find it. 

Thankfully we don’t have any season-defining rugby in the meantime – our trip to Belfast next weekend won’t affect either side while our guaranteed first place finish sees us idle the following week. 

Meanwhile, Saracens will have two tough Premiership battles against teams with playoff intentions; first they return to the scene of their European semifinal triumph to face Wasps, then they get a chance to make up ground on league leaders Exeter.

I guess you could make arguments both ways on which is the better way to prepare for a major final but this I know – Leinster have proven time and time again that they can shift into the required gear regardless of what has gone before.  

There will be no assumptions made by fans ahead of kickoff in Newcastle, but there will most certainly be an abundance of belief.  Bring it on.  JLP

241 : Leinster v Leicester Tigers wrap





Andrew Potts Leicester had a very limited game plan and the missed time pass often undid them .They also looked flat footed at times with so many runners going at defenders.

Nice to put 50 on them but some serious teams ahead.

Kevin Kelehan Ruthless demolition job from the point they were down to 14. Watch out Toulouse!

From Leicester Tigers page… 

Gaz Coley Great effort.  Irish Rugby has ticked all the boxes and are seeing the rewards. We gave a brave spiritated effort but the floors are deeper than today’s result.  English Rugby have got it so very wrong 



Zohar Lee the amount of yards JOB made, he was quicksilver

Higgs Leinster hit their groove in the third quarter and stretched the lead to 31 points despite being down a man for 10 minutes


  1. Munster, Ulster and Connacht must pick themselves up quickly after European exits (the42.ie) [Ciarán Kennedy]
  2. Inside the boot room: How Leinster Rugby builds the next generation – The Currency :The Currency [Brett Igoe]
  3. Sharks torn apart in Toulouse (sarugbymag.co.za) 
  4. Exeter dominate Stormers to reach Champions Cup semi-finals | Champions Cup | The Guardian [Robert Kitson]
  5. Stade Rochelais too strong for Sarries | Rugby365




TLS 54-20 SHA

EXE 42-17 STO

LAR 24-10 SAR


LEIN V TLS – Aviva Stadium Sat Apr 29

LAR V EXE – Bordeaux Sun Apr 30




Weekend of Apr 29/30




240 : Harpin’ Preview Show – #LEINvLEIC

Leinster : 15. Hugo Keenan 14. Jimmy O’Brien 13. Garry Ringrose 12. Robbie Henshaw 11. James Lowe 10. Ross Byrne 9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter 2. Dan Sheehan 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Ross Molony 5. James Ryan > CAPTAIN 6. Ryan Baird 7. Caelan Doris 8. Jack Conan

16. John McKee 17. Cian Healy 18. Michael Ala’alatoa 19. Jason Jenkins 20. Scott Penny 21. Luke McGrath 22. Harry Byrne 23. Ciarán Frawley 

Leicester : 15 Mike Brown 14 Anthony Watson 13 Harry Potter 12 Dan Kelly 11 Freddie Steward 10 Handré Pollard 9 Jack van Poortvliet

1 James Cronin 2 Julián Montoya (c) 3 Joe Heyes 4 George Martin 5 Cameron Henderson 6 Hanro Liebenberg 7 Tommy Reffell 8 Jasper Wiese

16 Charlie Clare 17 Tom West 18 Dan Cole 19 Eli Snyman 20 Olly Cracknell 21 Sam Wolstenholme 22 Charlie Atkinson 23 Jimmy Gopperth

Heineken Champions Cup 2022/23


Fri Apr 7 KO 8pm

Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Live on: RTÉ2, BT Sport 1

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (GEO) 

AR1: Pierre Brousset (FRA) 

AR2: Tual Trainini (FRA) 

TMO: Eric Gauzins (FRA)

Throwback Thursday : Last year’s QF v Leicester Tigers

For our latest Throwback Thursday we’re only going back a year to the 2021/22 Champions Cup quarterfinal at Welford Road, and the fact that they played us this recently is one of many reasons why they cannot be taken for granted on Good Friday.


As we all know, bonus points don’t matter a damn in knockout rugby. All you want to do is have at least one more point than the other lot at full time.

But that isn’t the only margin that can be significant in these matches. 8 and 15 are also ones to be aware of because they give you a cushion that makes your opposition need two or three scores to claw you back.

This means that if you can get yourself ahead on the scoreboard early enough, there’s no need to go hell for leather for the rest of the match, especially when you know victory will give you just a week to prepare to go again, this time against the reigning champions no less. Obviously you have to be wary of switching off altogether, but with a “smart” approach you can definitely do all you can to shepherd the lead home.

On Saturday at Welford Road, while there may not have been too many “You Tube moments” to savour, what you did see was Leinster wringing out every last drop of extra European experience they had over their hosts to first build a three score lead and then gradually see it through to the final whistle.

Naturally we needed a bit of luck along the way, every winning team does, but on a day when fans are bound to be nervous whether their team are favourites or not (even if they predicted a win in their own preview) the boys in blue made their return to Leo Cullen’s stomping ground look perhaps not “easy” or “comfortable”, but definitely controlled.

So let’s go through the eighty minutes and see how things transpired, though as you can see, events from elsewhere made that a bit difficult…


Here’s the thing. Virtually every time I writeup Leinster & Ireland matches for these pages, I take minute by minute notes as it’s being played, before one, sometimes two rewatches on the way to doing the writeup. This one time, being unable to travel, I chose to accept an invitation to a friend’s place to enjoy the action with a few beers as nature intended for the typical fan.

And since the “warmup” quarterfinal at the Aviva Stadium went the way it did forcing the first 15 minutes at Welford Road onto another channel, it meant I was unable to find a recording of the full match which in turn meant my recollection of the first quarter is a little sketchy to say the least.

What I do remember is that on our first bout of possession it looked for a moment that the Tigers had really done their homework on the Sexton wraparound move when George Ford got in the way, meaning a pass went straight to Chris Ashton, leaving me feeling that this could be a long afternoon. But thankfully the officials spotted they came from an offside position, meaning Sexton was able to calmly put us into the lead by three points.

The next twelve minutes or so are a bit of a blur, partly because it has been a couple of days but mostly because I had been drinking since kickoff in the Munster match, but to be fair the recording I did get begins just as they are showing highlights of Josh van der Flier’s try so I’m happy to harp on that with or without context!!!

As ever, we badly needed our lineouts to perform, especially in the opposition 22, and this one from the just-returned Rónan Kelleher to Jack Conan was a thing of beauty, thrown with just the right pace and caught just at the top of its arc and as our hosts might have expected us to set up a maul, instead it was Josh van der Flier who took it and charged towards the line.

Maybe I have said the whole “he’s been working on his carrying” line is getting a bit old, but when he can charge through first one, then two tackles at the line to still be able to reach out and get the ball down, maybe it’s a phrase we should keep on using if only for good luck.

Next I have to apologise to skipper Sexton for having little faith in his kick off the boot after he struck it; I thought it would drift left but instead it held its line and went just inside the upright which meant that after just 15 minutes we had already established a two-score lead.

The match had its first bit of controversy shortly after the restart when James Lowe’s booming exit kick was taken by Ford to be sent back in our direction. The home fans were convinced Ford had been hit late by Hugo Keenan. For me, well, it could have been given though HK was slowing himself down when contact was made. Anyway, there was further pain for the Tigers in that they were themselves pinged instead, for being offside ahead of the kicker.

Now we’re back with the attacking lineout again, only it’s outside their 22. This time it’s Molony taking the confident dart and it’s sent straight to the backs where Robbie Henshaw seeks out contact and pumps his legs until we’re well into their 22 on the front foot.

From here there’s further strong carries by Furlong, Conan, Doris among others, each time with Jamison Gibson-Park directing the traffic like he has been doing in both blue and green all season. Eventually on the 12th phase Conan has two latchers as he drags it to within inches of the line right under the posts as the referee signals a penalty advantage.

But the advantage won’t be needed as just like back at the start of the move, JGP fires a miss pass to Henshaw only this time, his momentum is getting him over the line for try number two, after which a conversion hands us that coveted 15+ point cushion.

Long, long way to go of course, but still a lead any team would have gladly taken if offered at kickoff.


This was a quarter that had just the one score, but it was still eventful nonetheless as it was more about Leicester’s inability to get the duck egg off the scoreboard.

As you can see below in our latest TikTok video, their failure to score was partly down to being unable to get their plans to crack our defence to work, and partly down to not having a plan at all when one was needed…


Harpin TikTok 5 – Solving Leinster’s D #rugby

♬ original sound – Harpinonrugby.com

When it comes to the controlled confidence I’m saying Leinster displayed on the day, most of that was shown on defence, and when your performance without the ball is at that level it can effect other areas of the game, like decision making for both sides.

But it wasn’t all about our actual defensive tackling cordon when it came to keeping the home side out – on an attacking lineout in our 22, an area where the Tigers have been known to succeed with a rolling maul or two in their day, James Ryan made sure nobody had forgotten him since he was forced onto the sidelines by snaffling the dart and we were able to clear.

And shortly after that last play in the video when the home side let the transition opportunity pass and instead put up a routine high ball, there was Jamison Gibson-Park burrowing his way to a jackled penalty in their half, offering his captain and fellow halfback the chance to push our lead even further to 20, one he duly took.

Finally for this half, if there was ever to be evidence the rugby gods were on our side, it was when Keenan was forced into touch in his own 22 a teeny tiny fraction of a second after the clock went red to end the half, denying them one last chance, although the way our defence was looking we could well have snuffed out that danger too.

My halftime tweet showed my own confidence was beginning to match Leinster’s.


Only a fool would’ve been surprised by a Leicester fightback after the break. Steve Borthwick hasn’t assembled this team and gotten them to the top of the Premiership without knowing how to make the right changes at halftime when things aren’t going so well.

And in many ways they seemed to be doing what they were doing towards the end of the first half, only better and more focused. We were really on the back foot during this period and it could have gone several different ways.

For one lineout they threw to the front again, only instead of sending it back to the thrower, this also became a maul, one which had enough traction to get all the way to the line. Even here our defence was holding out around the breakdown except when it was sent wide at just the right moment, George Ford found just the right miss pass to Ashton and he was over in the corner.

A beautiful strike from out wide by Ford made it seven and there was still a long way to go. Now the confidence was showing in Leicester’s play, with Ford and skipper Genge leading from the front. But for me, the remainder of this quarter was easily the most significant of the match.

On the one hand, you could say we saw out this spell, one in which we barely made it out of our own half with the ball once, because of the strong defence I was harping on earlier. But on the other hand, as the BT graphics people were more than happy to point out, we did ship a lot of penalties in a row.

My own words are coming back to haunt me now – just last week against the Stormers I was complaining that the ref had given the home side a warning without following up on it. Here, if we really did give up that many consecutive sanctions, we probably should have been told the next one would mean a card as well.

That said, there was also the question of what the Tigers were doing with those penalties. Some of them were very much in kickable positions and I reckon getting themselves to double digits would be a huge psychological advantage. Instead they went for the jugular and, well, missed when it mattered.

When Nemani Nadolo came onto the pitch you can hear Ben Kay in the commentary box saying “this might change things”. Well he did crash over the line in trademark fashion at one point in this critical spell only to be held up brilliantly by both Jimmy O’Brien and JVDF.

From there they went back for yet another penalty advantage which was put to touch for yet another lineout, only for there to be yet another brilliant grab by James Ryan to deny them yet another rolling maul.

At other times the blue brick wall was standing firm with phase after phase going nowhere, and high balls sent into the Leicester evening sky being caught well by the likes of Jimmy O’Brien and Hugo Keenan.


Obviously for all our success in thwarting our hosts we really needed something to happen to allow us some time down the other end of the pitch and it finally came on 61m when a big hit by James Lowe on Harry Potter (I really really want to make some wizard references here but I’d say they’ve all been done to death by others covering Leicester by now) and when Henshaw recovered the ball, Gibson-Park’s first instinct was to send it deep into opposition territory, like perhaps Ben Youngs should have done when the boot was on the other foot.

Since JGP went on to earn Player of the Match, (and rightly so, I felt vindicated for singling him out during the week on the Rolling Maul Podcast for Tigers fans) we’ll take it that it was his kick was perfectly placed and it found grass just inside the 22, allowing enough chasers to get there in time for JVDF (another PotM contender, AGAIN) to block Potter’s clearance before Weise just beat his opposite number 8 Conan to get the ball down. However, because he carried over the line first, it meant there was a scrum to Leinster.

Just to recap, since that Ashton try, the Tigers had done all they could to add to their score to no avail. Now moments after our first touch of the ball in their 22 since the break, we had an attacking 5m scrum. And when Jack Conan took it from the base to just under the posts only for their sub scrum half Richard Wigglesworth (no stranger to beating us in Europe of course) to take out the 9 giving us an easy penalty for Ross Byrne, on at this stage for Sexton (was that booing as he left?), to slot the three.

All of which meant that for those still keeping tabs on the numbers I was on about at the start of this article, our 13-point cushion was now pushed to 16, which meant three scores were needed once more, and now there were only fifteen minutes left.

Up to this point, I haven’t really mentioned penalties awarded at scrums. And I’m delighted that I haven’t needed to, given what happened at Twickenham the last time Ellis Genge squared off against Tadhg Furlong, with this same referee Reynal I might add.

Now it’s not like there were absolutely no penalties at all on the day, there were, but they were distributed pretty much evenly. Maybe the French referees heard us all complaining about them making their mind up for the first few scrum and going the same way. Or, maybe that’s just a stupid narrative that isn’t real.

But for those final fifteen minutes it wasn’t just the penalties at scrum which were a feature, it was more the amount of resets – which are naturally going to benefit the team ahead on the scoreboard. I can’t blame the Tigers for thinking this was going to be an area where they could dominate us, but it has to be said the penalties awarded both ways seemed fair, with Michael Ala’alatoa doing well in his cameo for Furlong.

As the clock was in the high seventies, one rolling maul did find its way over the line as their sub hooker Nic Dolly got it down to make the final score look more respectable but even from the kickoff our defence wasn’t letting them off the hook and we practically bullied them in their own 22 until they turned it over only for Ross Byrne to put it dead to call it a day.


Far from a classic but like I said, when it’s our team playing in a one off match, we want wins not classics. And I really don’t think anyone is disputing that the better team won.

As always after results like these, you do have some commentators making the usual moans about how Irish provinces are put together and how many internationals we have and how it’s all unfair and blah blah blah but one thing is for sure, you never heard anything like that from Leicester Tigers captain Ellis Genge who to his credit soundly rejected the narrative at the post-match presser.

Back on our side, you have to be happy with the performance – I’ve been saying all season how even though we’re top of the URC our matchday squads for Europe seem to find an extra level when it comes to focus, professionalism, cohesion or whatever other buzzwords you might want to use.

There was also a chance to give a European debut and there’s no doubt Joe McCarthy has earned it with some fine displays in the URC this season. Pretty sure it won’t be long before he’s starting on these occasions.

Finally on the Tigers themselves I can only say it again that European experience was the difference. I can totally see them back competing at this stage again next year, only very liekly as Premiership champions and a much better chance of progressing.


On the Harpin podcast during the week I’ll be chatting to a Leinster fan who travelled to Welford Road about the whole experience and then our attention, naturally will turn to our semifinal date with Toulouse next Saturday at 3pm. Stay tuned to this page as well as any or all of our social media channels to catch our usual features like previews and such. Thanks as ever for sticking with the writeup to the end. JLP

239 : Leinster v Ulster wrap





Paul Smith A game for the forwards and the Leinster pack delivered in spades. It was never going to be a day for free flowing rugby and their dominance in both attack and defence was the winning of the match this evening. Ryan, Baird, and Conan were outstanding and also a mention for Ross Byrne who played some smart rugby and took his points well. Have to be happy to take the win in a game that always had the potential to be a banana skin.

Andrew Potts A wet game but not inspiring. They were good enough for Ulster but it was very low key result.

South Wales Ulster Rugby Supporters Club Leinster deserved the win on the day, but Ulster Rugby didn’t make it easy. Without doubt, Stockdale’s huge kick, chase, collect to Burns & cross field kick for Hume’s try, was the best passage of play, in the whole game 🏉




  1. Antoine Dupont named Six Nations Player of the Championship (rugbyworld.com) [Josh Graham] 
  2. London Irish insist all staff will be paid this month amid concern over finances | London Irish | The Guardian [via PA Media]
  3. Nichola Fryday Gives Emotional Interview After Heavy Loss To France | Balls.ie [Colman Stanley]
  4. Injuries and tries galore as Bok-laden Sharks thump Munster | Rugby365 
  5. Connacht bow out of Challenge Cup with comprehensive defeat to impressive Benetton – Independent.ie [John Fallon]



LEI 16-6 EDI

SHA 50-35 MUN

STO 32-28 HAR

LEI 30-15 ULS

LAR 29-26 GLO

EXE* 33-33 MON [aet]

TLS 33-9 BUL

SAR 35-20 OSP











238 : Harpin Preview Show – #LEIvULS

Leinster : 15. Hugo Keenan 14. Jordan Larmour 13. Jimmy O’Brien 12. Robbie Henshaw 11. James Lowe 10. Ross Byrne 9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Andrew Porter 2. Dan Sheehan 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Ross Molony 5. James Ryan CAPTAIN 6. Ryan Baird 7. Josh van der Flier 8. Jack Conan

16. John McKee 17. Cian Healy 18. Michael Ala’alatoa 19. Jason Jenkins 20. Scott Penny 21. Luke McGrath 22. Harry Byrne 23. Ciarán Frawley

Ulster : 15 Michael Lowry 14 Rob Baloucoune 13 James Hume 12 Stuart McCloskey 11 Jacob Stockdale 10 Billy Burns 9 Nathan Doak

1 Rory Sutherland 2 Rob Herring 3 Tom O’Toole 4 Alan O’Connor (Captain) 5 Kieran Treadwell 6 Dave McCann 7 Nick Timoney 8 Duane Vermeulen

16 Tom Stewart 17 Eric O’Sullivan 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen 19 Harry Sheridan 20 Marcus Rea 21 John Cooney 22 Stewart Moore 23 Ben Moxham

Heineken Champions Cup 2022/23

Round of 16

Sat Apr 1 KO 5:30pm

Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Referee: Luke Pearce (ENG)

AR 1: Dan Jones (ENG)

AR 2: Jamie Leahy (ENG)

TMO: Andrew Jackson (ENG)

Live on: RTÉ2, BT Sport 4