The Irish province played much of the game without the ball, but their defence was up to the challenge as they repelled their French opponent’s powerful carriers.
Leo Cullen’s men scored the only try of the game through No8 Max Deegan with Ireland ace Johnny Sexton kicking a conversion and two penalties on his second club appearance of the season. Jonathan Wisniewski booted two Lyon penalties as they took a losing bonus point.
Sexton put the four-time European winners ahead from the tee after Lyon were penalised for a high tackle on centre Garry Ringrose in midfield. Sexton had the opportunity to extend the lead after the hosts collapsed a maul from a line-out, but his penalty hit the left upright.
A wayward French pass saw Leinster intercept and lock James Ryan burst away before being brought down inside Lyon’s 22. Cullen’s side refused to panic and recycled the ball for Deegan to score. Sexton converted.
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Visiting wing Jordan Larmour was sent to the sin bin for picking the ball up from Lyon’s side of the ruck after Leinster had lost possession from their own put-in at a scrum. Despite long periods of possession inside Leinster’s 22, the hosts were unable to make their pressure tell.
Last season’s finalists defended admirably despite conceding a couple of penalties under pressure to keep Lyon scoreless in a first half which ended with the clock in the 45th minute. Lyon had two thirds of the possession and territory, but found it difficult to break down a resilient and stubborn Leinster defence which stood strong.
Leinster conceded consecutive penalties for collapsing the maul as Lyon forced their way into the 22 when the game resumed, but once again their defence made a crucial play. Cullen saw his pack force a turnover after the ball was unplayable on the ground.
With so many European clubs in the red, @heagneyl takes a look at whether a European League might eventually become a runner… it's something that one Premiership owner already believes will happen https://t.co/2xXJa3EBan
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 21, 2019
The visitors had to make almost twice as many tackles, but always appeared to be in control when Lyon had the ball in hand. Lyon finally got on the board when Wisniewski slotted a penalty in the 67th minute after Leinster infringed at the lineout.
Sexton thought he had crossed for a game-winning try, but the score was chalked off after Ringrose was penalised for preventing a possible tackle. Referee Luke Pearce was playing a penalty advantage to Leinster, however, and Sexton kicked the penalty goal to extend his side’s lead to ten.
Wiesnewski slotted a late penalty to ensure Lyon took something from the game, but Leinster’s impressive rearguard performance meant that was all they got.
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