The Amlin Challenge Cup might not be the trophy that everyone wants to win but a year on from their Heineken Cup triumph, Leinster showed they still have a voracious appetite for silverware after comfortably seeing off Stade Français.
Just as Chelsea’s victory in the Europa League this week now means the Londoners achieved the unique feat of holding two major honours simultaneously, the Irishmen in blue can now claim the same. Despite the absence of captain Brian O’Driscoll, who signed a new one-year deal to carry on next season, Leinster raced into an early lead when Isa Nacewa’s break allowed Ian Madigan to touch down, with Jonny Sexton adding the extras.
Rob Kearney almost sealed a breakaway try soon after but a partisan home crowd at the RDS Arena didn’t have to wait long for the second score.A clever kick from Isaac Boss was gathered by Andrew Conway, whose offload was perfect for Sean Cronin to race clear.
Stade Français have plenty of European pedigree themselves but had already fallen at the final hurdles three times – in the Heineken Cup in 2001 and 2005 and in this competition in 2011. Yet they never really looked like finding a way back into things, even after Jérome Porical had cut the deficit with a penalty.
Kearney and Nacewa combined after another up and under from Sexton for the former to cross five minutes before the break, with Porical’s second penalty trimming their lead to 21-6. A couple of Sexton penalties in the second half put Leinster out of sight before a brief fightback from the French side but in truth there was only ever one team in it, with Cian Healy’s late try rounding off a comfortable victory.