La Rochelle lifted their first ever European Champions Cup after Arthur Retiere's late try stole a dramatic 24-21 win over Leinster at Stade Velodrome.

Despite scoring the first try in Marseille through Raymond Rhule, La Rochelle trailed for much of the match as Jonny Sexton's boot dominated for Leinster on Saturday.

He had 18 points before Pierre Bourgarit powered over for La Rochelle to tee up a nervy finish as last year's runners-up piled on the pressure.

The French side's indiscipline almost put the game beyond them, with Thomas Lavault sent to the sin bin and Ross Byrne – on for the injured Sexton with 16 minutes remaining – kicking another three points, but Retiere's last-gasp response swung the final in their favour.

Leinster, chasing a record-equalling fifth title, ultimately paid for their failure to score a try – not that it appeared to matter as Sexton converted two straightforward penalties to edge them ahead.

Rhule then bundled over in the left corner after Dillyn Leyds' offload, before another Sexton penalty put Leinster back on top, and he profited again before the break when La Rochelle were punished for more sloppiness.

West reduced the arrears with three points after the interval, but Sexton responded with a further two penalties to take Leinster out of reach of a converted La Rochelle try.

That lead was cut after 61 minutes, however, as Bourgarit crossed following a maul and West's conversion made it a one-point game.

Sexton limped off in the aftermath of that try, but La Rochelle's momentum appeared to be halted when Lavault was yellow-carded for tripping Jamison Gibson-Park, allowing replacement Byrne to dispatch the subsequent kick.

And yet there was still time, with a prolonged period of La Rochelle pressure ending in Retiere breaking through to claim Champions Cup glory for his side at the second time of asking.

James Lowe scored a try in each half as magnificent Leinster reached the European Champions Cup final with a 40-17 defeat of holders Toulouse at a raucous Aviva Stadium.

Leinster will face La Rochelle or Racing 92 at the Stade Velodrome on May 28 after a hugely impressive win over the Top 14 side in Dublin on Saturday.

Johnny Sexton pulled the strings and scored 15 points in an influential display as Leo Cullen's side, who scored four tries, kept themselves in the hunt to match Toulouse's record tally of being crowned European champions for a fifth time in Marseille. 

Fly-half Sexton's penalty put Leinster in front, but Antoine Dupont raced from deep in his own half to go under the posts to punish Jamison Gibson-Park for a poor grubber kick.

Sexton doubled his tally with the boot and Leinster were rewarded for piling on the pressure with two tries in the space of five minutes, Lowe finishing from close range before Josh van der Flier crashed over after they lost Tadhg Furlong to injury only 16 minutes in.

It was five successful kicks out of five for Sexton when he added another penalty after one from Thomas Ramos at the other end, before Emmanuel Meafou was sin-binned late in the first half.

Leinster failed to increase their 23-10 lead while Meafou was off the field, but Lowe was left with a simple finish after he was picked out by the excellent Sexton, who expertly added the extras.

Selevasio Tolofua gave defiant Toulouse hope when he bundled himself over in the right corner and Ramos converted with 15 minutes to go, but Ross Byrne was on target with a penalty and converted a late Hugo Keenan try as Cullen's men marched into the final.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has been ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a twisted ankle and knee in the famous 29-20 victory over New Zealand on Saturday.

The Leinster fly-half will miss the final match of the Autumn Nations Series campaign against Argentina on Sunday and faces at least four weeks on the sidelines.

Joey Carbery came on to replace Sexton with 15 minutes to go at the Aviva Stadium and sent three penalties sailing through the posts to consign the All Blacks to defeat.

Sexton will remain with squad, while Connacht number 10 Jack Carty has been called up in the absence of the skipper.

Andy Farrell will also be able to call upon Munster back rower Gavin Coombes against the Pumas after he recovered from illness.

Ireland beat Argentina 28-17 when the two nations last met in Dublin three years ago.

Tadhg Furlong has signed a new Irish Rugby Football Union contract until the end of the 2021-22 season.

The Ireland and Leinster prop had been linked with a move overseas but has decided to stay in his homeland.

Furlong has won 49 caps since making his Ireland debut in 2015 and was last week selected for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa, having also played in three Tests against New Zealand four years ago.

The 28-year-old lifted the European Rugby Champions Cup with Leinster in 2018 and has won five PRO12/14 titles, but a defeat to La Rochelle ended Leo Cullen's side's bid for European glory this year.

Furlong said: "Happy to sign on for one more year. There has been some tough days of late but I believe the squads we have in both Leinster and Ireland are able to compete for trophies in the future.

"I look forward to hopefully playing at a packed out RDS or Aviva Stadium in the months ahead."

David Nucifora, IRFU performance director, said: "Tadhg was a long time out of the game but showed upon his return in January what a positive influence he can be for both Ireland and Leinster.

"He has grown as a senior voice in the Ireland squad and his recent performances reminded everyone why he is rated as one of the best tightheads in world rugby."

 

La Rochelle earned a convincing 32-23 victory over Leinster at Stade Marcel Deflandre to reach their first European Champions Cup final.

The French side, who had never previously made it as far as the last four, will now face fellow Top 14 club Toulouse at Twickenham on May 22.

Leinster have won the competition on four previous occasions and started Sunday's contest brightly through Tadhg Furlong's eighth-minute try.

The hosts were a man short at that point after Wiaan Liebenberg was sin-binned for an offside infringement, but they hit back thanks to a penalty and drop goal from Ihaia West.

West was successful from a couple more kicks before half-time, but only after Ross Byrne had added six points from the boot for Leinster in a tightly-contested opening period that ended with the visitors ahead by one.

That kicking battle ensued in the early stages of the second period when Byrne responded to West edging La Rochelle in front for the first time in the contest.

Leinster were a point to the good at that point but lost James Lowe to a yellow card for not rolling away in what proved to be a pivotal moment in an entertaining clash.

West split the sticks once more to restore his side's advantage and Gregory Alldritt found a way over the line 15 minutes from time, which West inevitably added to with the extras.

La Rochelle pushed for another try to seal the win and they found it as Will Skelton broke away from the driving maul to start the celebrations.

Byrne had the final say in terms of the scoring by finding a gap and dotting down late on, but La Rochelle comfortably held on to set up an all-French final at Twickenham.

Johnny Sexton will continue to strut his stuff for Ireland and Leinster after signing a one-year contract extension to the end of the 2021-22 season.

The 35-year-old laid to rest speculation over his immediate future as he agreed a longer deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Tuesday.

Sexton, the 2018 World Player of the Year, is Ireland's captain and talisman, with the fly-half in no rush to hang up his boots. 

"I am really enjoying my rugby and I want to keep learning and adding value to both the Ireland and Leinster environments," he said. 

"I am enjoying the challenge of captaincy and the added responsibility that it brings. My appetite for success is the same as it ever was and the ambitions of both the Ireland and Leinster squads match my own."

Sexton's impressive list of honours includes three Six Nations titles with his country, for whom he was won 97 caps, and four European Cups with Leinster. 

Ireland's 2021 Six Nations campaign started with back-to-back loss against Wales and France before Saturday's thrashing of Italy.

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