Champions Cup: Five key battles to watch ahead of Leinster v La Rochelle
Four-time winners Leinster take on the 2021 runners-up La Rochelle as the two teams face off in the 2022 Champions Cup in Marseille on Saturday. The Irish province have swept all before them, picking up impressively dominant victories over Leicester and Toulouse in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. Leo Cullen’s men will, however, come up against a team that have found their form. Here are the main battles we think will determine the outcome of the match. Porter’s and Leinster’s set-pieces issues have been well-documented, having struggled in their Champions Cup knockout matches against Leicester Tigers and Toulouse.
The loosehead has admitted he hasn’t been at his best in the scrum over recent weeks and he faces probably the biggest tighthead in the world this weekend. The British and Irish Lion is probably the most underrated number eight in Europe and remains a key cog in a mightily impressive pack, but he now faces probably the best back-row in the world at the moment. Conan will operate in the wider channels, using his pace, footwork and skill-set to try and create space, while Alldritt will play slightly closer to the ruck. La Rochelle are sweating on the availability of Kerr-Barlow, who suffered a broken hand in the semi-final victory over Racing 92. Whoever it is, they will go head-to-head with a man in form in the shape of the excellent Ireland scrum-half Gibson-Park.
Talking of Sexton, his battle with La Rochelle’s primary playmaker is the next duel to look at. Sexton has controlled the game – for both province and country – beautifully this season and it will be a tough job for West to match his brilliance. These two unfortunately didn’t go head-to-head in this year’s Six Nations so this will be a particularly fascinating battle. As for Henshaw, he rarely has a bad game and was comfortably Ireland’s best player in the 2021 Six Nations. READ MORE: Andrew Porter owns up to scrum issues ahead of Champions Cup final
Read full article at planetrugby.com