Investec Champions Cup: Leinster 36-22 Leicester – Jamison Gibson-Park scores first-half hat-trick for hosts

Home » Investec Champions Cup: Leinster 36-22 Leicester – Jamison Gibson-Park scores first-half hat-trick for hosts
Investec Champions Cup last 16
Leinster: (22) 36
Tries: Gibson-Park 3, Henshaw, Conan Pen: R Byrne Cons: R Byrne 3, H Byrne
Leicester Tigers: (10) 22
Tries: Pollard, Cronin, Clare Pen: Pollard Cons: Pollard 2

Jamison Gibson-Park scored a first-half hat-trick as Leinster beat Leicester Tigers to set up an Investec Champions Cup quarter-final against La Rochelle.

Handre Pollard scored the opening try before Leinster’s scrum-half responded with three tries in 17 minutes.

Prop James Cronin grabbed a score at the start of the second half to give Leicester hope, but Robbie Henshaw hit back with an intercept try.

Jack Conan raced clear to add another, before Charlie Clare’s late reply.

Leinster will face reigning champions La Rochelle at home in the quarter-finals next weekend in a repeat of the last two finals.

The French side progressed after Stormers fly-half Manie Libbok missed a conversion – with the clock in the red – to ensure the holders stayed alive in the competition thanks to a 22-21 victory in Cape Town.

Leo Cullen’s Leinster have suffered back-to-back final defeats against La Rochelle, but they did clinch a pool-stage victory against Ronan O’Gara’s side in the opening game of this year’s tournament.

Gibson-Park inflicts more pain on Leicester

Leinster had knocked Leicester out of Europe at the quarter-final stage in the past two seasons, inflicting a heavy 55-24 victory in Dublin 12 months ago.

The sides also met during the pool stages in January, with the four-time champions grabbing a late bonus-point win at Welford Road.

The Tigers started fast that day and Pollard’s early score indicated a similar approach in Dublin on Saturday.

But lock Joe McCarthy, who was one of the breakthrough stars of the Six Nations, had other ideas and continued his impressive form when he broke clear, before sending Gibson-Park in to quickly respond.

The scrum-half has been one of Ireland’s standout players since his introduction by Andy Farrell in 2020 thanks to his speed of play and quick thinking.

They were on show for his second try when he linked with hooker Dan Sheehan to catch Leicester down the blind-side, before popping up on another smart support line to run in his hat-trick score after Jamie Osborne’s line break.

Henshaw’s intercept score summed up the Premiership side in the second half as the difference in clinical nature showed, proven when Ollie Hassell-Collins butchered a score for Leicester after a sharp break.

The Irish province will now face La Rochelle for the fifth time in four seasons, and with only one victory over O’Gara’s side and a loss at Aviva Stadium last season, it could prove a more difficult game.

‘We can lift it to another level’

Player of the match Gibson-Park, speaking to TNT Sports: “It was great to be back home in front of our fans. I am lucky to have great players around me to make my job easier.

“I didn’t have to do too much work other than run them [tries] under the sticks.

“It is pretty exciting to now come back here against arguably the best team in the competition [La Rochelle].

“We can lift it to another level next week. We will be confident going into next week.”

Line-ups

Leinster: Keenan; Larmour, Henshaw, Osborne, Lowe; R Byrne, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Molony, McCarthy, Baird, Van der Flier, Doris (capt).

Replacements: Kelleher, Healy, Ala’alatoa, Jenkins, Conan, Murphy, H Byrne, Frawley.

Leicester Tigers: Shillcock; Steward, Kelly, Kata, Hassell-Collins; Pollard, Van Poortvliet; Cronin, Montoya (capt), Cole, Wells, Hatherell, Liebenberg, Cracknell, Wiese.

Replacements: Clare, Van Wyk, Hurd, Carnduff, Ilione, Whiteley, Cokanasiga, Brown.

Sin-bin: James Lowe (46)

Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)

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