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Rugby: Leinster defeat injury-hit Racing 92 to claim fourth European title

Gabriel Bouys, AFP | Racing 92's French fly-half Remi Tales reacts as Leinster's players celebrate after the 2018 European Champions Cup final rugby union match between Racing 92 and Leinster at the San Mames Stadium in Bilbao on May 12, 2018.

Leinster equalled Toulouse's record of four European Champions Cup titles when they eked out a 15-12 win over injury-ravaged Racing 92 in the final on Saturday.

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Flyhalf Johnny Sexton kicked three penalties and Isa Nacewa slotted two as the Irish province added to their 2009, 2011 and 2012 triumphs in the continent's most prestigious club competition.

Racing, who were never behind until Nacewa's last penalty, replied with four penalties by stand-in scrumhalf Teddy Iribaren after suffering a major setback before kickoff when former New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter was ruled out injured.

"It's frustrating because we were really close," Racing centre Henry Chavancy said after his team's second final defeat in three years.

"We failed. They did what they had to do to win the game. They deserved to win," Racing coach Laurent Travers said.

Racing came close to forcing extra time after the buzzer when stand-in flyhalf Remi Tales's drop goal flew just wide.

Racing, also missing first-choice scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud, suffered a major blow when Carter, named on the replacements bench, was ruled out an hour before kickoff due to a hamstring injury.

Starting flyhalf Pat Lambie sustained a knee injury in the second minute, so French international Tales, who did not feature on the team list in the morning, had to deputise.

Racing went ahead with an Iribaren penalty but Sexton levelled.

They traded a couple more penalties before the interval after the French side defended aggressively, disrupting Leinster's usually well-oiled machine.

The normally free-flowing Irish side, who had scored 31 tries in eight games in the competition, were being kept at bay.

Racing took command in the second half as they went through the phases and were rewarded with an early penalty converted by Iribaren.

But Sexton responded with a penalty and Iribaren's fourth penalty was cancelled out by Nacewa's boot.

Another Racing offside infringement was sanctioned by Wayne Barnes and winger Nacewa coolly slotted home the winning kick one minute from time.

(REUTERS)

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