Sexton injury leaves Leinster with mountain to climb against Toulouse - Club Rugby - Rugby Union - The Independent

Sexton injury leaves Leinster with mountain to climb against Toulouse

Weekend Preview



Toulouse v Leinster


Leinster know what it is to give the world's most revered club side the run-around in front of their own success-soaked supporters: the Dubliners' victory at Le Stadium in 2006 demands to be counted among the half-dozen finest performances in Heineken Cup history.

Can they manage it a second time in the absence of Jonathan Sexton, their oh-so-subtle and increasingly influential outside-half? It is a mighty tall order.

Sexton's absence from this afternoon's semi-final – he suffered a fractured jaw during the epic victory over Clermont Auvergne in the last eight – means Shaun Berne, nobody's idea of a fool, plays in the pivot position. With the likes of Rob Kearney, Isa Nacewa, Gordon D'Arcy and the peerless Brian O'Driscoll around him, Berne will fancy his chances of breaking down the Toulouse defence. But the Frenchmen have an even better back division at their disposal – Clément Poitrenaud, Vincent Clerc, Cédric Heymans, Florian Fritz and Yannick Jauzion will all be there, with Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and Maxime Médard on the bench – and they start as favourites.

Biarritz v Munster

Direct English interest in the elite tournament is centred on Biarritz, of all teams on God's earth. Iain Balshaw starts at full-back, Ayoola Erinle (last seen on Test duty against the All Blacks last November) has been picked in midfield and Magnus Lund has been recalled to the back-row combination, where he will operate alongside Imanol Harinordoquy, no less.

Munster, denied the services of the injured Paul O'Connell, have a decent knockout record in France, having beaten both Toulouse and Stade Français in the past. "I think we understand how to win these games now," said Ronan O'Gara, their long-serving No 10, this week. But the Irishmen will be seriously wary of the lightning-quick wing Takudzwa Ngwenya tomorrow, and be just a little nervous of the Basques' new outside-half, Karmichael Hunt, a rugby league high-achiever from New Zealand who is killing a little time before launching a career in Australian Rules football. There is also the small matter of the scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili, who can win games on his own. Even games as big as this one.

Wasps v Cardiff Blues

Danny Cipriani, less than brilliant in the Londoners' heavy Premiership defeat by Bath at Twickenham last weekend, has paid the price for his profligacy by being demoted to the bench for this evening's important Amlin Challenge Cup tie at Adams Park. The celebrity outside-half will probably play a part, but not until either David Walder or Mark van Gisbergen is summoned from the field.

The Blues, far from the worst in Europe over recent campaigns, look strong in most departments, especially as the Lions centre Jamie Roberts is fit to join his fellow hotshots Ben Blair, Leigh Halfpenny and Casey Laulala in a useful back division. But the flanker Andy Powell is still nursing a calf injury and the Welshmen will be in all manner of strife if Darren Allinson, the only scrum-half left standing, fails to go the distance.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week