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Sexton out to exile errors

Hard edge and focus. There has been a steel to Leinster's preparations this week which belies the healthy lead which they currently possess at the top of Pool 6.

Nothing has relented in terms of the squad's preparation and the pursuit of a home quarter-final.

Talk to Jonathan Sexton about hard facts and his intent is evident.

The 24-year-old out-half seamlessly returned to action in last weekend's 27-10 victory over Brive, but experience has taught him never to take things like selection for granted.

Had tomorrow's evening contest assumed the roles of either a first round game, a meaningless sixth round dead rubber where neither side had a chance to progress or, indeed, a cup final, the Dubliner maintains that nothing would alter Leinster's focus.

The drive to push, coupled with professional pride, he insists, has generated from within all week and despite the five- point buffer, nothing has been proved.

"There's always so much at stake whenever you play in Europe that we're not allowing our five-point lead to distract us," he said ahead of tomorrow's trip to the English capital.

"We're fortunate that results went our way last weekend, but we can only play against what's in front of us and, in that respect, we are pleased with having bagged three successive bonus-point victories.

"Wins in Europe, be it at home or away, are always hard fought, but you want to win every game you play in.

"We need to get out of our pool in as strong a position as possible, both in terms of our mental well-being coming into the break for the Six Nations and in terms of our ranking.

"So, even though things went well for us last weekend, we want to stay in control of our fate and prove that we have earned the right to make it into the quarter-finals."


With a huge following expected to descend on London, Sexton -- who also reached the half century appearance mark last weekend -- is conscious of the efforts the Leinster supporters and players' families continue to make to back the team at home and away.

Coming off the back of a dramatic victory at home last weekend, the Ireland international knows that Leinster will need to be more clinical in the fundamentals to overcome a London Irish side who will be determined to make amends for their defeat by the Scarlets.

"On the Monday before the Brive game we set out as a group to win the game first and foremost.

"You always know that the best scenario from any game is five points, but there's never talk of that.

"We were delighted to achieve the win and Brian's (O'Driscoll) try was the icing on the cake, but afterwards we knew that we weren't as clinical as we would have liked.

"It felt good to be back and as the game went on you could feel the sharpness returning, which I suppose is to be expected after missing out over the last few weeks.

"This week the focus was on our attention to detail and we need to put right those errors in our game. We really want this win.

"We lost the game at home to London Irish and that hurt us and we were immediately on the back foot. They bullied us and were more clinical at the breakdown and physically we didn't match them.

"They're a huge, physical team and in Bob Casey and Nick Kennedy they have two of the best lineout operators in England. Delon Armitage is very dangerous at the breakdown and (Seilala) Mapusua is a very strong runner out wide.

"They beat us last time despite the fact that we were going well, having beaten Munster 30-0 the week before, so form won't count for much this week.

"It's about how well we prepare and our intent to win the game."

So is this week a case of retribution?

"Revenge? I'm not so sure because that might imply that we needed a defeat to motivate us for this week and that has not been the case.

"We approach every game in the same manner and we always want to perform to the best of our abilities and set new and improved standards every time we play."