Ronan O'Gara standing in Leinster's way again after La Rochelle destroy Exeter 9 months ago

Ronan O'Gara standing in Leinster's way again after La Rochelle destroy Exeter

STADE ROCHELAIS 47-28 EXETER

Ronan O'Gara and his La Rochelle side are off to their third successive Champions Cup final, after shredding Exeter Chiefs at Matmut Stadium, in Bordeaux.

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Just like Saturday's other Champions Cup final, the underdog started with a big try then got pulled apart for most of the remaining minutes. Sam Simmonds boshed over for an early Exeter try but the reigning champs responded with a Raymond Rhule score.

That was the beginning of the end for a game but limited Exeter side.

By half-time, O'Gara's side were 26-7 to the good, after further tries from UJ Seuteni, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Gregory Alldritt. It was reminiscent to Leinster conceding the first try to Toulouse, on Saturday, and roaring back to lead 27-7, late in the first half.

Ronan O'Gara

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Ronan O'Gara standing in Leinster's way

Exeter Chiefs, who won the Champions Cup back in 2019, would have known how crucial the first score of the second half would be. La Rochelle were well aware, too.

When Antoine Halstoy's excellent kick found Raymond Rhule in oceans of space, it was a second try try for the South African and effectively game over. Pierre Bougarit crashed over after a rolling maul move and, when Halstoy converted, it was 40-7 after 54 minutes.

Exeter showed some spirit to score three more tries but they were merely consolation efforts. Kerr-Barlow added a second try and it was all said and done.

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For the second season in a row, Ronan O'Gara and his La Rochelle side stand in the way of Leinster, Champions Cup glory and that fifth star.

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