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Published: 10:05 | 21/12/15

Leinster lose in France

Leinster’s hopes of progressing in the European Rugby Champions Cup were effectively crushed by a 24-9 defeat to Toulon in southern France.

The Irish side, following reverses to Wasps and Bath, retained a slim chance of qualifying from Pool 5 for the quarter-finals.

However, Sunday’s loss to the current European champions more or less ensures that Leinster will not make the last eight, despite still having three pool games to play.

Two Jonathan Sexton penalties gave Leinster an early advantage, but Steffon Armitage replied by scoring from a catch and drive that was led by Duane Vermeulen, with Eric Escande adding the conversion.

A yellow card for Cian Healy appeared to do little damage to the visitors, with Escande and Sexton trading penalties to leave the home side a point ahead at the interval.

However, a sin-binning for Devin Toner proved more costly, with Escande landing two of his three successful second-half penalties whilst the giant lock was off the field.

Trailing by nine points late on, even a losing bonus point looked unlikely before the hopes of Leo Cullen's men were put to bed, as substitute Tom Denton received a yellow card before Armitage powered over from a line-out.

To avoid their first group-stage exit since the 2012-13 season, Leinster would need to win all three of their remaining pool matches, perhaps picking up winning bonus points in each of those clashes. Even in such a scenario, though, the Irish side would be far from certain to progress to the quarter-finals.

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