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Holders Leinster edge past Ulster in Champions Cup thriller

Holders Leinster edge past Ulster in Champions Cup thriller

Adam Byrne's try put Leinster ahead in the second half
bbc.comLeinster's pursuit of a fifth European title remains on track but only after they had to dig deep to see off a spirited Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.Tries by Ross Byrne and Adam Byrne helped the defending champions to come from behind and snatch a 21-18 win.Kieran Treadwell's early try gave Ulster the lead but a missed chance for Jacob Stockdale proved costly.
Luke Marshall's try drew the visitors level but Ross Byrne's late penalty was enough to give Leinster the win.The reigning champions will now face Racing 92 or Toulouse in their semi-final in three weeks' time.Ulster will have to count the cost of a demoralising defeat that also saw Ireland captain Rory Best suffer an ankle injury on what could prove to be the final club appearance of his career.
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Byrne shows his mettle
The absence of World Rugby player of the year Johnny Sexton from the Leinster starting team was met with apprehension by their supporters but Ross Byrne proved a capable deputy in the biggest match of his Leinster career.The fly-half had to overcome a nervy start too - a loose pass to Garry Ringrose led to the centre's kick being blocked down and Treadwell diving over for the opening score with just six minutes on the clock.But Byrne showed his class with a superbly-taken try just minutes later - bashing through Robert Baloucoune to score after the Leinster pack had battered at the Ulster line.The Leinster kicker missed a long-range penalty but recovered well to convert a further two kicks and keep pace with counterpart John Cooney, who uncharacteristically missed a straightforward conversion that would have seen Ulster move back in front.It was Byrne's final kick at goal that proved to be the match winner as he slotted a tricky shot through the posts despite clearly being hampered by cramp and he hobbled off to acclaim just moments later.Ulster pushed for another score in the dying seconds but Leinster were able to finish the game in the opposition half and kicked the ball dead barely five seconds into injury time to clinch a thrilling win.
Leinster 'a long way off' their best - Cullen
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen on BT Sport"It was an amazing occasion, We are very thankful but in terms of performance we are a long way off our best."Integrating players back in, we looked like a team that have not played together in a long time. We were pretty disappointed by the way we went."We were edgy from the start. We were charged down in the first few minutes, we rode our luck at times and feel fortunate to advance to the semi-finals."More to follow.Leinster: J Larmour; A Byrne, G Ringrose, R O'Loughlin, D Kearney; R Byrne, L McGrath; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong; S Fardy, J Ryan; R Ruddock (capt), S O'Brien, J Conan.Replacements: J Tracy, E Byrne, A Porter, M Kearney, D Leavy, J Gibson-Park, N Reid, R Kearney.Ulster: M Lowry; R Baloucoune, D Cave, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, R Best (capt), M Moore; I Henderson, K Treadwell; N Timoney, J Murphy, M Coetzee.Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, W Herbst, A O'Connor, S Reidy, D Shanahan, L Marshall, A Kernohan.Referee: Romain Poite (France)
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