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Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Saturday, 21 May 2011 19:13 UK

Heineken Cup final as it happened


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By Mark Orlovac

1910: Time to go. That was some match. It was an honour to have been a part of it. Didn't I say Leinster by 15 points before the match?!! That wasn't how I expected it to pan out, though. Thank you very much for all of your messages, hope you enjoyed it. Keep an eye on the BBC website for all of the reaction from Cardiff. Take care of yourselves.

billymacca74 on Twitter: "Wasn't the world supposed to have just ended . . . or was it just applicable to the Northampton Saints rugby team!"

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Rory in Leeds via text: "Jonathon Sexton: future Ireland captain? Fantastic performance and BOD saying how he inspired him, I think so."

1904: So Northampton go from the possibility of a domestic/European double to ending the season empty handed in the space of seven days. Some wag on Twitter has made the comparison to my beloved Arsenal. Harsh. Leinster's double is still very much on, though.

Golfer Rory McIlroy on Twitter: "There's no glory for Northampton but they were brilliant in 1st half. Played their part in an awesome final."

1859: The lights go out at the Millennium Stadium, with the spotlights shining on the stage where the Leinster players now gather to receive the Heineken Cup trophy. The champagne is now out. This party may go on for a bit. That's only a guess.

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Simon Weller in Northampton via text: "Typical Saints, when it comes to finals they can only play one half."

1855: We now have contrasting images of Leinster players fans and players going bananas while the men in green would rather be somewhere else, walking around the Millennium Stadium in a complete daze. Mallinder gets his team in a huddle and gives a passionate speech. Would love to know what he said.

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Pete in London via text: "This is a big mental hit for a fairly sizeable chunk of the England squad after the Six Nations. Hope we don't meet the Irish in NZ."

Leinster fly-half and man-of-the-match Jonny Sexton: "We struggled first half to get any type of platform. We were shell shocked and we needed leaders at half-time. I said at the break that comebacks happen in finals and used the example of Liverpool in the Champions League. I knew we could come back from the deficit."

Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll: "We had some choice words at half time, Sexton was phenomenal in the dressing room, he was a man possessed, he is was inspirational in the break. We knew we had it in us. We have played well in patches throughout the season and the second-half performance was immense."

CiaraRF on Twitter: "What a performance from Sexton on the biggest stage. Absolutely world class."

ysl807 on Twitter: "WHAT a match! Congratulations to both teams for a BRILLIANT game of rugby."

1847: Leinster's players celebrate like it's... er... 2011. Congratulations on a second Heineken Cup triumph. That comeback will live long in the memory. Northampton's players slump to the floor. There's some tears as well. Desperate moments.

Full time
FULL-TIME: Leinster 33-22 Northampton

80 mins: Leinster kick the ball out. It's all over.

80 mins: The scrum isn't completed yet. As soon as it is and the ball is out of play, the whistle will go.

79 mins: Northampton try to make something happen inside their own 22. The ball is taken into contact and the ball is knocked on. One minute to go. Sexton is named man-of-the-match. Not really a surprise there. What a second-half performance.

78 mins: This game is as good as over. Loads of subs, doesn't seem to matter now. Sexton comes off and he receives a rapturous reception. There's a pause as stricken bodies receive treatment before a Leinster scrum in Northampton's half.

75 mins: Ball just in Leinster's half. Northampton stringing a few passes together. But Joe Ansbro makes a horlicks of a pass and Leinster regain possession. Nacewa grubbers the ball down the line and it finds touch. Intelligent. Saints are playing with 14 at the minute, Ashton is a passenger.

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Anon via text: "Saints fan here. We have just collapsed. Can't help but wonder if they thought the trophy was already won."

MattBlackstock on Twitter: "I know Leinster are a class team but the Northampton collapse has been embarrassing."

70 mins: Wonderful break from Foden from deep. That's better. Ashton is outside him and storms forward. The Leinster defence is back, though, and he has to go sideways on the 22. Bang, he gets absolutely wiped out by a wonderful tackle from Nacewa. And Ashton is limping. England manager Martin Johnson's heart rate suddenly increases. That was some hit.

68 mins: Another penalty for Leinster... but this time Sexton misses. That's headline news. Saints subs: Myler off, Shane Geraghty on. Hartley off, Brett Sharman on. Leinster: Fergus McFadden on, D'Arcy off.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Denis Hickie: "This is the greatest comeback since Lazarus. It's unbelievable. This is a super human performance. We could have seen Northampton totally capitulating. I feel sorry for Dylan Hartley now. What can he say? The players wouldn't be listening anyway."

Try graphic
65 mins: Leinster 33-22 Northampton Bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. Leinster come forward again and Northampton look as if they are completely spent. They can't hold them back. Nathan Hines dives over from close range for the try while Sexton converts. That's 27 points in 25 minutes. What. A. Game.

65 mins: TRY Leinster

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Matt Dawson: "Northampton have not been given the chance to play. Leinster have swarmed all over them. Leinster had to give everything from the off at the start of the second half and if Northampton end up losing this, they will rue not expecting that."

62 mins: Leinster 26-22 Northampton That's no problem for Sexton. He nails the kick and Leinster lead by four. Northampton look shell shocked.

62 mins: PENALTY Leinster

Yellow card
60 mins: Leinster pile forward again. Northampton can't handle this. As the Irish side threaten the Saints line, Dowson is penalised for preventing a try-scoring opportunity. He's off for 10 minutes.

57 mins: Leinster 23-22 Northampton What a crazy 17 minutes. How have Leinster gone from being out of it at the break to leading by one? Under no pressure, Foden drops the ball on 40m and then the Northampton forwards are marmalised at scrum time. What a change in fortunes. The ref gives a penalty and Sexton fires over the kick. I'm stunned.

57 mins: PENALTY Leinster

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Denis Hickie: "How do you stop this if you are Northampton? I've been in this position and it's a lonely place to be. All of a sudden, Leinster are getting all these little tiny decisions and breaks. What a turnaround."

Try graphic
53 mins: Leinster 20-22 Northampton Amazing. From a ruck there's a tidy backline move and Sexton is on the arc again, he dummies right but goes on his own and scores a second try before nailing the conversion. Where's your money now?

53 mins: TRY Leinster

52 mins: Boos from the Irish, cheers from the English. But it's still Leinster's ball 5m out. Saints can't relax here.

51 mins: The man from Del Monte... he say no.

50 mins: This is all Leinster now. All the momentum is with them and Northampton are desperately hanging on. The ball is fed to the corner, Luke Fiztgerald pops the ball up to centre Gordon D'Arcy who dives over the line. Diggin is underneath him, though. Is it a try? It's gone to the video ref. Tension.

48 mins: This is a different game. No doubt. Leinster have much more intensity now. They break after a quick tap, Diggin sticks his hand out - did he try to intercept it or did he slap it down? The ref gives him the benefit of the doubt and it's just a penalty inside the Leinster half.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Matt Dawson: "The big players in the Leinster dressing room would have said to each other that they haven't delivered and they've come out firing after the break. Northampton have not turned up for this second half."

Try graphic
44 mins: Leinster 13-22 Northampton That all comes from a darting break from O'Driscoll. He doesn't make it to the line but Leinster are patient, the ball goes right and Sexton on the arc finds a gap in the line to touch down. Sexton then has the conversion and it goes in off the left post. Game. On.

44 mins: TRY Leinster

43 mins: Well that just sums up the game so far. Leinster manage a break and move up to the 5m line but the ball is snaffled up by a hungry Saints defence at the breakdown. Brilliant.

42 mins: Leinster enjoying a bit of possession early doors. They have made their way to the Saints 22.

41 mins: Crikey. These half-times are getting shorter and shorter. Sexton gets things started. Would have loved to have been in that Leinster dressing room at the break.

mrkiscool on Twitter: "I'm shocked, as are the 20,000 Leinster fans here. I'm hoping for a Liverpool-like comeback! Still will be a delicious second half."

themarkgodfrey on Twitter: "Not many people know much about Northamptonshire... but the 15 men of Leinster are finding out the hard way today."

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Denis Hickie: "It's like a boxing match and one boxer is getting an absolute pummelling and they couldn't wait for the bell, it's saved them. They have to go in and say to themselves how can we get the scrum going?"

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Toby, with only half an eye on the kids, in Harrogate: "Awesome Northampton! Said Saints by 8 before the start, if Leinster can't get the scrum sorted they could be in massive trouble."

AndrewProctor25 on Twitter: "I'm actually enjoying watching scrummaging. Tonga'uiha is an absolute animal."

1748: Who predicted that then? Certainly not me. Is that Northampton's best 40 minutes of the season? Probably. Absolutely superb.

Half time
HALF-TIME: Leinster 6-22 Northampton

39 mins: Leinster 6-22 Northampton Wow. The try is awarded. I think Hartley is the man with the ball as it touches over the whitewash. Myler's kick hits the post and out to safety.

39 mins: TRY Northampton

38 mins: Mujati and Clark come back on. Mercey off. Saints are back to 15 and they are attacking. They camp on the Leinster line but the men in blue are holding firm. A pile of green bodies fall over the line but is it a try? It's gone to the video ref.

36 mins: Leinster -6-17 Northampton Silly indiscipline from Northampton. Sexton is taken out off the ball, didn't see who it was I'm afraid, skipper Hartley gets a warning from the ref - a yellow could be shown if that happens again, and Sexton fires over the kick.

36 mins: PENALTY Leinster

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Denis Hickie: "Leinster are well off the pace. I said it would be a one-score game but I am not so sure now."

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Matt Dawson: "You just can't help but think that the likes of Ashton, Lawes, Foden and Hartley have got that Six Nations game that England lost to Ireland in the back of their heads."

31 mins: Leinster 3-17 Northampton Leinster can't handle this. The ball is spread wide from the scrum, Clarke takes it on, then Lee Dickson makes a dash for the line but is brought down. The ball comes left and Foden finds a gap in the defensive line to score the second try. Myler converts from the touchline.

31 mins: TRY Northampton

30 mins: Saints put pressure on the Leinster line. The men in green are enjoying this. Lawes gets the ball but the pass to him is forward and it's another scrum. Leinster won't be looking forward to this... and Saints win it against the head! This is an absolute mauling.

28 mins: Scrum time in the Saints half. Let's see what happens here. Clark goes off. Tom Mercey comes on. My goodness... the seven men of Leinster are battered and the Saints scrum marches forward. They mean business.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Matt Dawson: "There was a little bit of danger but Mujati has played a lot of rugby, big pressure games, and you think he would know what it takes to win these matches. If you want to win a European Cup final you need 15 players on the pitch."

Yellow card
26 mins: Loose play as Leinster come forward. Hang on... someone's in trouble, Mujati is pinged for pulling back Healy off the ball. Yellow card. And that's a 10-minute break for him. That could be a pivotal moment.

23 mins: Big moment for Leinster. The Irish side pile forward from a line-out. Horgan makes the initial break, plays it outside to Heaslip, who then has the vision to pass inside to the supporting O'Driscoll. Forget what I said earlier about a forward getting involved in an attack. The Ireland skipper is odds on to score his side's first try but Ben Foden comes over to make a try-saving tackle. Wonderful.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Denis Hickie: "Leinster cannot afford to not have their scrum at least in parity if they are to launch any sort of attack."

21 mins: This is worrying for Leinster. Their scrum is struggling. Big time. They are penalised at the set-piece after that knock on and Myler fires up a nine iron and the ball just falls over the bar.

21 mins: PENALTY Leinster 3-10 Northampton

18 mins: Now it's Leinster's turn to break. Eoin Reddan breaks on the blind side from a line-out and he gives it to Shane Horgan who is in support. The big winger cuts inside and offloads it to rampaging hooker Richardt Strauss, who coughs it up. Lesson: don't let a forward join in an attack.

16 mins: Again it's very messy at the breakdown when Leinster try to take the ball out of their half. There's bodies flying in everywhere. Someone has to be penalised there... and it's Dylan Hartley. Leinster can clear.

14 mins: It was all a bit scrappy when Wilson was tackled and Calum Clark is penalised for not staying on his feet at the ruck. Sexton steps up to take the penalty from a long way out and he's nailed it.

14 mins: PENALTY Leinster 3-7 Northampton

12 mins: From that scrum, Leinster take the ball on but they knock it forward in a tackle. Now it is Northampton's turn to break, and number eight Roger Wilson breaks from the back of a scrum but he is taken down near the halfway line.

jonhaydnjones on Twitter: "Can a team scrummage like that for 80 mins? I don't think so."

10 mins: Well, well. What a start from the Premiership side. From the kick off, though, Northampton take the ball but there's a forward pass and Leinster have a scrum in Saints territory.

Try graphic
6 mins: Leinster 0-7 Northampton First blood to Northampton. There's another good shove from the Saints pack at the scrum, Diggin takes the ball on down the left and after some nice interplay, blind-side flanker Calum Clark offloads to open-side Phil Dowson, who barges over for the first try. Myler converts from the touchline.

TRY: Leinster 0-5 Northampton

4 mins: Northampton had the shove in the first scrum and we now have a second one, and that's a score draw. Saints come forward but Leinster turn the ball over and they have it in their own 22. Jonny Sexton whacks the ball forward, crikey, that's travelled a mile. It rolls all the way out of the Northampton dead ball area and they now have a scrum in Leinster territory. Moment.

2 mins: This is breathless stuff. The ball is kicked to Saints and they come again. Hartley is on the charge but he is halted by some, er... robust Leinster defence. Bosh. The England hooker knocks on and we have our first break in play.

1 min: Stephen Myler starts the 16th Heineken Cup for Northampton. Leinster collect and then boot clear. They don't find touch, though, and Saints attack with inside centre James Downey making a half break.

1700: The players are out. What a reception. Flags everywhere. The noise is fantastic. Here we go...

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Toby, looking after the kids in Harrogate, via text: "Northampton by 8. Class outfit of the season."

LittleRedRuby on Twitter: "COME ON YOU SAINTS. That is all."

JKICharlton on Twitter: "Could be feisty in the Heineken cup... Fancy Leinster to take it 22-10 in the end."

1658: And your quiz answer is... drum roll please... England, with 72 players. Second up is France with 71 and in third it's Ireland with 67.

1656: The Millennium Stadium is rammed. The players are about to come out. It's noisy. Very noisy. Get something cold from the fridge and settle down for what could be a classic. Not long now.

1655: Right Bryn, I'm also picking Leinster - but to win by 15.*
* Please note, my predictions are normally very, very bad.

BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer in Cardiff: "OK predictions time... I'll take Leinster by 6-8 points. Is that precise enough? Alright then, Leinster 24-17 Northampton. Any takers?"

1652: There's been a lot of chat about the number of internationals in the Leinster team but Northampton are fairly packed with talent as well. Their back three of Ben Foden, Ashton and Diggin are quick and dangerous while centre Jon Clarke showed his class with a wonderful step for his try in the semi-final win over Perpignan. And we all know about lock Courtney Lawes, right?

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Anon via text: "Missing today's game due to a wedding. I am absolutely gutted but luckily it is at the Gardens so I am putting pressure on the speeches as really don't want to miss kick-off."

Gerkuman on Twitter: "Both the Saints and Leinster have a strong claim to the trophy. I hope Saints win, but if we lose, it's to a worthy opponent."

1648: So Leinster are favourites to pick up their second Heineken Cup trophy but there's no complacency in the squad. No way. How do I know? Well, I'm not going to argue with open-side Sean O'Brien. "We have had a brilliant season so far and we are exactly where we want to be, but we have nothing won yet and we still have it all to do. There is a lot of excitement about the place thinking about what we could possibly do. But if we don't win something, we will just be the same as everyone else - taking early holidays. We know what we have to do. We have to go out and win a trophy, it is as simple as that."

1644: It is worth mentioning that Tonga'uiha, Heaslip, O'Brien and Isa Nacewa are all on the European Player of the Year shortlist, as well as Stade Francais number eight Sergio Parisse. Take a look at Jeremy Guscott's column and he'll tell you who he thinks should win it.

BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer in Cardiff: "Straw poll of one suggest the blue flags of Leinster out-number the green, yellow and black of Northampton fans. Atmos building nicely now.."

1641: Tell you what, I'm looking forward to the first scrum today. I think I'll be able to hear the first engage from here. Soane Tonga'uiha-Dylan Hartley-Brian Mujati versus Cian Healy-Richardt Strauss-Mike Ross. Ouch. It could be some contest and Tonga'uiha is fully aware about how tough it could be. "We've come up against some good teams this season but Leinster are one of the best," he said. "They have some great ball carriers and their pack do their set-piece well. If we do get an edge in the scrum, it will take a long time to come. It's not going to take 40-60 minutes like it's done in the group stages, quarters or semis, Leinster will stick with us pretty much the whole way. If we do get on top of them it won't be until the last five or 10 minutes."

Heineken Cup final teams:
Leinster: Nacewa; Horgan, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; Sexton, Reddan; Healy, Strauss, Ross, Cullen (capt), Hines, McLaughlin, O'Brien, Heaslip.
Replacements: Harris-Wright, Van Der Merwe, Wright, Toner, Jennings, Boss, Madigan, McFadden.

Northampton: Foden; Ashton, Clarke, Downey, Diggin; Myler, Dickson; Tonga'uiha, Hartley (capt), Mujati, Lawes, Day, Clark, Dowson, Wilson.
Replacements: Sharman, Waller, Mercey, Sorenson, Easter, Commins, Geraghty, Ansbro.

Referee: Romain Poite (France).

1636: Team news: Inspirational Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll is passed fit and Leinster are able to pick the same side that beat Toulouse. Their pack contains six, count them, six Ireland internationals including star back rowers Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip. Northampton are also unchanged from their semi-final, with Paul Diggin returning to the left wing. Line-ups to follow.

BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer in Cardiff: "BTM band & choir entertaining crowd with Thin Lizzy's 'Boys are back in town'. That would be BoD, D'Arcy, Fitz, Heaslip. Happy 09 Slam days."

BriMcS on Twitter: "Going Leinster 23-9 Northampton. Tries: 2-0."

Biggest game in my players' careers - Mallinder

1633: Despite that Leicester defeat, Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder is not concerned about the possibility of his side being jaded. Here's what he had to say: "We've put what happened against Leicester to bed. If we were in the Premiership final we'd have more than one thing on our mind. But we've now only got one thing on our mind and that's Saturday. We're in good shape. Without doubt it was a physical, intense battle against Leicester. Our defensive performance was outstanding. Watching them train the last couple of days, you wouldn't think it's the end of the season or that they're tired. We're not staggering over the finishing line, instead we're refreshed."

1629: Northampton come into the game on the back of a bruising defeat at the hands of Leicester in the Premiership play-off semi-final. Saints wing Chris Ashton received three stitches after putting his head in the way of Manu Tuilagi's fist. Three times. The England star is fit to play, though. If you haven't seen the incident yet, use a popular internet search engine to take a look. I haven't seen anything like it since Rocky IV.

Opta Sports on Twitter: "Leinster have made 110 tackles per game (ave) in the Heineken Cup this season, more than any other side. Tireless."

1625: To Northampton then, a team that won the Heineken Cup with a 9-8 victory over Munster at Twickenham in 2000 with the likes of Paul Grayson, Pat Lam, Allan Bateman, Federico Mendez and Tim Rodber in the side. And a bit of history could be made today, people. If Saints win in Cardiff, they will become the first team to complete a Heineken Cup campaign unbeaten.

1622: The Irish side are going for a domestic and European double after booking a Magners League play-off final with victory over Ulster last weekend. This has been a pretty impressive first season for new coach Joe Schmidt.

PatchRBR on Twitter: "Hoping Leinster win the Heineken Cup and do us proud."

1616: For one week only, and probably for the last time ever, here's a small feature called Orlo's Heineken Cup final brain teaser. Snappy, isn't it? Here it is. Players from 17 countries have won the Heineken Cup, but which country boasts the greatest number of winners? I'll give you the answer just before kick-off. no prizes, unfortunately, although I could give you a half eaten bar of chocolate that is currently sitting on my desk.

DavidRhysMorgan on Twitter: "Great atmosphere, shame about the 20min queue to get a beer at zero degrees outside the stadium. Saints 25 - Leinster 17."

5LiveRugby on Twitter: "Handful of players out on pitch at Millennium Stad pre ko. @jamieheaslip aka Zinzan giving the drop goals some welly... It's not working."

1611: Leinster are aiming for their second Heineken Cup triumph in three years, after winning it for the first time in 2009. And what a route they've had to get here. Just a bit harder than getting home from west London on a Friday night. They topped a pool that included Clermont Auvergne, Racing Metro and Saracens before beating two-time European champions Leicester in the quarters and last year's champions Toulouse in the last four. Mighty.

tomwaters on Twitter: "Leinster look to have the upper hand going in to the match, but Northampton can always cause an upset, especially with Ashton!"

saintsgb14 on Twitter: "I have no nails left and the match hasn't even started yet! COME ON YOU SAINTS!"

1607: Kick off in Cardiff is at 1700 BST so there is absolutely no excuse for you not to get involved with this live text commentary. Predictions, bets and watching locations are all required. There's Twitter (via hashtag #BBCRugby ), you can message me direct via @markorlovac or text me via 81111 with RUGBYU before your message. I'm waiting. As for your coverage details, as well as little old me here in Shepherd's Bush, there's also live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live.

BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer in Cardiff: "Saints and Leinster fans massing outside Millennium Stadium, 1 hr until kick-off in HC final. Which side will be shouting the roof off?"

1604: Hello you. Keeping well? Thank you for joining me for what should be a titanic game between Leinster and Northampton for the right to be called European champions. There will be no quarter given at the Millennium Stadium this evening. Fact. How's the nerves?

1600: Here we are - the cream of Europe battling it out for the biggest prize in club rugby. The most eagerly awaited Anglo-Irish clash since Jedward and Blue went head-to-head in Eurovision. This is big. Welcome one and all to the Heineken Cup final.

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see also
Leinster 33-22 Northampton
21 May 11 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll passed fit for decider
20 May 11 |  Leinster
Wood to miss Heineken Cup final
19 May 11 |  Northampton
Ashton to undergo knee operation
17 May 11 |  Northampton
Northampton 23-7 Perpignan
01 May 11 |  Rugby Union
Leinster 32-23 Toulouse
02 May 11 |  Rugby Union

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