Leinster were grinding out the Toulouse defence, who were titleholders before Irish big Johnathan Sexton passed the ball off to Irish full-back James Lillee, who saw the full-back run unopposed. Leinster played a quick scrum-play, looking to wear down title-holders Toulouse’s strong pack. Leinster’s pressure was told in the 15th minute, with an inside pass by Ireland great Jonathan Sexton freeing up Lowe, who powered home from the tight range. This third score for Leinster came off clever play in the lineout, with impressive Van der Flier breaking free of the maul fake and popping the inside pass to Lowe, who powered forward and delivered the ball back nimbly onto a winger.
It did not take long for this Leinster side to get their full benefit, with Ross Molony linking passes brilliantly, their captain-in-chief unleashing Garry Ringrose with a blistering break, and then the outside centre played a great long ball to Lowe down the left. The Leinster full-back was dancing around the last three defenders to get their second. An early barrage from Leinster Rugby had Toulouse Rugby reeling, Matty Lebel doing well to deny Jimmy OBrien a try, then skipper Jonathan Sexton kicked over the spot-kick.
If it was a reminder of the risks Toulouse posed, it was additionally a wake-up name for Leinster, who responded with efforts from Lowe and Van der Vlaer before the break, and another two penalties for Johnny Sexton after opening the scoring off a tee pitch. A maul at the lineout gave Leinster Rugby momentum, Robbie Henshaw carried heavily, while an inside pass by captain Jonathan Sexton saw James Lowe tap in for seven points down the short side.
Leinster, moving the ball quickly, had a healthy 23-10 advantage at half-time after try-scoring from Irish full-backs James Lowe and Josh van der Flier. In contrast, Irish big man Jonathan Sexton made all five of his try-scoring attempts over the opening 40 minutes. In Toulouse’s defence, and as identified by Johnny Sexton, Toulouse had played a full 100 minutes against Leinster, coming home again and then back into Dublin, so perhaps there was no real surprise when, on occasion, a gas-guzzler was flicked. The relentless pace with which Leinster Rugby played left Toulouse Rugby, one week after their heroics against penalties here in Dublin, struggling to cover the leaks while also losing lock Emmanuel Meafou to the sin bin.
Everything Leinster accomplished was done with breakneck speed. The pace was the cornerstone of their game, whether it was carrying, harries, or breakdown work. At ruck time, the players’ ability to get through support and clear the ruck or take a pop pass rendered defence nearly impossible. They were frequently generating sub-two second ruck retention, which was astounding given that they were up against five starting French Grand Slammers.