Rugby It’s substance over style as Leinster grind way to victory

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Rugby Lyon 6 Leinster 13

Rugby Leinster's Jonathan Sexton is tackled by Lyon's Julien Puricelli (left) and Carl Fearns. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Jonathan Sexton is tackled by Lyon’s Julien Puricelli (left) and Carl Fearns. Photo: 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.

They might have made life easier for themselves at times and will need to get better as the tournament progresses, but they’ll take the four points. 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.

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Rugby Leinster's James Ryan makes a break. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster’s James Ryan makes a break. Photo: Sportsfile

“When we really, really needed to dig in we have that gear which is pleasing,” Leinster’s head coach, Leo Cullen, said. “It’s just about getting the job done at the moment, isn’t it?

“On we got to the next one, it’s such a big block of games. It’s an amazing block of games for all the teams. Glasgow away next week, then Northampton away. A couple of big weeks on the road for us.

“I see Northampton had a good win themselves, which makes things tight. It’s the haves and the have-nots at the moment, but one of those teams could win two games and keep alive within the pool. Northampton are a team we know well. They’re a team we’ve had plenty of battles with in the past.”

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.

Rugby Lyon's Jonathan Wisniewski tackles Leinster's Garry Ringrose. Photo: Sportsfile

Lyon’s Jonathan Wisniewski tackles Leinster’s Garry Ringrose. Photo: Sportsfile

He hit the post when trying to double that lead, while a big change 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

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