Our event of the day is the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final between Leinster and Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Leinster are the defending tournament champions and will look to overcome their old rivals, Toulouse. The French team have won nine of their last ten Top 14 matches and will look to reach their seventh Champions Cup final. Be sure you don’t miss the exciting rugby on display today. For the third time this season, Leinster and Toulouse line up against one another. Having been drawn together in the group stage, the two teams split their matches and each took a win at home. This semi-final will be their twelfth meeting in the tournament and their third semi-final meeting. The previous meetings at this stage of the competition, in 2010 and 2011, were also split with one win apiece, each achieved on home soil. Leinster, the tournament’s defending champions, made the semifinals after overcoming a half-time deficit against Ulster in the quarterfinals. Down 13-11 at halftime, the defending Pro14 andEuropean champions rallied and held their compatriots to just five points in the second half on their way to a 21-18 victory. The defensive shutdown can be largely credited to James Ryan. Ryan, the 22-year-old lock commanded the second row with 21 carries and 27 tackles as Leinster fought back to continue their title defence.
However, despite this win, Leinster have taken their foot off the pedal in recent weeks. With the Pro14 Conference B title locked up weeks ago and a place in the semifinals of the Pro14 playoffs guaranteed, the team has begun resting their stars. This means that they have won one of their last four matches. That said, Johnny Sexton and his reliable boot, who has been out of action since the end of the Six Nations, is set to return against the French team. Toulouse, on the other hand, have won nine of their last ten, most recently with a thrilling 47 - 44 victory over Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14. In their quarter-final against Racing 92, it was two first-half tries from the young Antoine Dupont that helped them achieve a tight 22-21 victory. This is the 11th semi-final appearance for both teams in the competition. Leinster has made progress to the final four times while their opponents have gone on to make six finals appearances. With the top team in Pro14 and the top team in Top 14 going head-to-head, this is one match you won’t want to miss.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the semifinals of the Fed Cup. France host Romania in Rouen while Australia face Belarus in Brisbane. These semifinals highlight the depth of talent in the WTA, with each of the four teams featuring at least one player who has held a top ten ranking in their career. France has Caroline Garcia while Romania is led by world number two Simona Halep. Meanwhile, Belarus offers the talents of Victoria Azarenka, a former world number one, and the young Aryna Sabalenka while Australia boasts Miami Open winner Ashleigh Barty. Be sure you don’t miss today’s exciting tennis action. Elsewhere, in the NHL, the first round playoff series continue, with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins facing off at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for game six of their series. It’s game four of the NBA playoff series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. On the PGA Tour, the RBC Heritage continues at the Harbour Town Golf Club on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. In county cricket, the Royal London One-Day Cup continues across England.
Whatever, you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by European Rugby Champions Cup; Toulouse
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