Rugby Deegan try the difference as dogged Leinster leave Lyon with crucial win

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Rugby Lyon 6 Leinster 13

Rugby Johnny Sexton led Leinster to a narrow 13-6 win in Lyon. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton led Leinster to a narrow 13-6 win in Lyon. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

This was the grittier side of Leinster on a dirty day in Lyon.

The Top 14 leaders may have no pedigree in this tournament, but they threw the kitchen sink at the four-time champions who needed a performance full of character to emerge with the four points they needed.

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It sets up the pre-Christmas back-to-back games against Pool 1’s other unbeaten side, Northampton Saints, who squeezed past Benetton earlier in the day.

It was a tight and taut affair from the off. Lyon out-half Jonathan Wisniewski missed an early drop-goal attempt, so it was his former Racing 92 team-mate Johnny Sexton who opened the scoring with a penalty after Hendrik Roodt went high on Garry Ringrose. He hit the post when trying to double that lead, while a big chance went a-begging when Robbie Henshaw ignored the screams of James Lowe on his shoulder and butchered a three-man overlap.

With the home side dominating possession and territory, Leinster were forced to defend and Scott Fardy came up with a big turnover, deep in his own ’22, after the scrum coughed up a penalty. And it was Leinster’s rear-guard that got them their all-important first try, with Josh van der Flier charging Wisniewski down and collecting the ball before feeding James Ryan. Virgile Bruni caught the second-row, but Tadhg Furlong and Max Deegan moved the ball wide to Rob Kearney who carried to the 5m line. After a couple of forward carries, No 8 Deegan picked and went through Mickael Ivaldi with support from Rhys Ruddock to score

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