Leinster capped an outstanding year for Irish rugby by claiming a first Heineken Cup with a 19-16 win over English champions Leicester at Murrayfield.
|Leinster came from behind to beat Leicester at the final in Scotland [AFP]
Stand-in fly half Jonny Sexton proved the difference as he showed no nerves in slotting over a 30-metre penalty with 10 minutes remaining to split the two evenly matched teams.
Leinster's success in becoming the third Irish province to lift the trophy after Ulster and Munster, followed a first grand slam for Ireland in 61 years in March and the selection of a national record 14 players in the original British and Irish Lions squad.
The result was tough on Leicester who were aiming for a record equalling third triumph in the competition and had recovered after a surprisingly sluggish start to lead by seven points in the second half.
Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll gave Leinster a seventh minute lead when he dropped a goal from in front of the posts after early pressure, but Leicester's French scrum half Julien Dupuy replied with a penalty two minutes later.
Sexton, proving an able replacement for the injured Argentine international Felipe Contepomi, looked assured with his kicking and rifled a drop goal over from halfway after 18 minutes to regain the lead.
Leinster's confidence grew with Sexton adding a penalty to extend their lead to 9-3 as they dominated territory and possession.
But canny Leicester, eight times English champions, forced Leinster onto the back foot after a clean break by England centre Dan Hipkiss and tighthead prop Stan Wright was shown a yellow card in the 33rd minute for desperately tackling fly half Sam Vesty without the ball.
"We gave away a lot of points when we were down to 14 men and they really capitalised on that period of the game but the boys showed great spirit coming back into it," Leinster captain and former Leicester man Leo Cullen told Sky Sports.
Dupuy kicked the resulting penalty at the start of what proved to be a costly 10 minutes for the Irish side.
Leicester made the most of their numerical advantage and after heavy pressure on the Leinster line flanker Ben Woods crashed through two tackles to score the game's opening try a minute before half time.
Dupuy converted and against the run of play Leicester went in 13-9 in front.
More indiscipline at the start of the second half cost Leinster when prop Cian Healy needlessly gave away a penalty at a ruck and Dupuy slotted over his third penalty, the 13th point Leicester had scored in Wright's absence.
But when Leinster were restored to 15 men they began working through the phases and number eight Jamie Heaslip stretched over from the back of a ruck in the 50th minute after Australian Rocky Elsom and O'Driscoll had gone close.
Leicester then gave away a penalty and petulant back chat resulted in referee Nigel Owens penalising them a further 10 metres.
Although Sexton could not convert, he made amends with another penalty, the decisive kick, 10 minutes from time.