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Heineken Cup | The Epic Journey

The Epic Journey

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Season 2008-09

The old guard of Toulouse and Munster - both of whom reached 100 games in the tournament - and Leicester Tigers and London Wasps came up against the rising power of European club rugby as LEINSTER RUGBY finally emerged from the shadows to cast aside their bridesmaid tag and win their first Heineken Cup crown. Twice semi-finalists, and five times qualifiers out of their pool, they clawed their way into the final at Murrayfield on Saturday, 23 May 2009.

Beaten twice in the pool stages, they won 6-5 at Harlequins in the infamous 'Bloodgate' quarter-final before turning on the style to beat arch-rivals Munster at Croke Park in another ground-breaking European fixture. The reigning champions could do little or nothing to halt Leinster as they romped to a 25-6 win in front of a world record crowd for a club game of 82,208.

Meanwhile, the Tigers won their pool despite losing to both the Ospreys and Perpignan away from home. They held off a battling Bath side in the quarter-finals before heading to the Millennium Stadium to faceCardiff Blues who had won seven in a row. What happened next was a first for the tournament as the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

The Tigers led 26-12 in the second half before tries from Tom James and Jamie Roberts got the Blues back to 26-26 to take the game into extra-time. There were no more points in the game and so for the first time the result was determined by penalty kicks.

The first seven kicks were all successful, giving the Blues a 4-3 lead, before Johne Murphy missed for the Tigers. That gave Tom James a chance to win the shoot-out for the Blues, but he missed. New Zealand international Scott Hamilton was next up for Tigers, he made it 4-4 to send the contest into sudden death. Both teams successfully converted two more kicks before Wales legend Martyn Williams hooked his attempt wide. That miss allowed Tigers No 8 Jordan Crane to step up and kick his side into the final after the most dramatic finish in the tournament's history.

A full-house of more than 66,000 at Murrayfield took the tournament's gates through the one million mark for the first time and two of the biggest names in the world game, Australian back row Rocky Elsom and Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll, inspired Leinster to a 19-16 win as they become the third Irish club to be crowned champions of Europe.

ERC TV | The Final
Most Tries
Leinster RugbyBrian O'Driscoll5
Most Points
Cardiff BluesBen Blair99
Pool Tables | Heineken Cup
2008-2009 - Heineken Cup
How the Final was won
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