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Sexton's teeing up glorious season

AS if last weekend couldn't get any more dramatic for Jonathan Sexton, a little known Florida native called Gerry Lester Watson's steady climb up the leaderboard in Augusta had him on the edge of his seat until the small hours of Sunday night.

Sport, you see, can be a fairytale and in the midst of Bubba's glory, it reinforced that notion: to live is to dream.

Though Sexton privately hoped that an Irishman such as Pádraig Harrington may get the chance to wear the green jacket, it wasn't to be on this occasion. However, something in the wild swing of the unconventional left-hander triggered something in Sexton.

Himself a keen and single-handicap golfer, he looked at the playing style and subsequent emotion overload and reflected on the magic of the craft.

"I don't know if you can pinpoint any one thing but Bubba is just unconventional," Sexton reflected.

"Sometimes with golfers and other sportsmen or women they can be quite rigid and robotic almost in how they play or carry themselves. But I was delighted he won and you could see how much it meant to him when he sank that putt on the play-off hole.

"I have to say I feared the worst for him at one point because he had a bit of a meltdown in another tournament a few weeks back, but he showed a lot of guts and resolve to dig deep and come good."

The underdog is a funny thing. Tonight's opponents Edinburgh weren't given much of a chance to topple Toulouse on Saturday afternoon in Murrayfield, but that they did. Now three PRO12 teams are amongst the top four sides left in the Heineken Cup; another feather in the league's cap.



psychological

With fresh faces expected to enter the fray tonight, Sexton stresses that the psychological approach won't change.

"There's always pressure to win your games and Edinburgh haven't just become a good side overnight. They have one of the best back-row units in Europe. They are very talented at half-back and at centre and then in Tim Visser out wide they have a lethal finisher who also scored two tries against us earlier this year.

"I know that Scotland didn't have a successful Six Nations, but they came extremely close in a few matches -- especially against France -- and that experience stood to Edinburgh last weekend. They learned from their mistakes that day and I wasn't surprised that they won.

"We have big tests coming up but Joe (Schmidt) is a 'one-game-at-a-time coach'. We want to win and try to cement our place at the top of the table."



unleashed

Reflect on Sexton's words and cast your mind back to the 12th minute of the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues in the Aviva Stadium, Sexton's dummy pass found Rob Kearney who unleashed Isa Nacewa.

But the play which will inevitably cement itself in hearts and minds was the wonderfully timed and weighted pass to Luke Fitzgerald 24 minutes later, which culminated in Brian O'Driscoll's try.

Sexton smiles knowingly. It is rare that a move as clinically executed as that simply happens.

He recounts the move. "It was a nice move and of course you do take a level of satisfaction when moves like that go right for the team. And that was the key point about the move itself. It wouldn't have happened had Straussy (Richardt Strauss) not found Leo (Cullen) and had Jamie (Heaslip) not taken Redser's (Eoin Reddan) pass.

"Luckily the ball came my way perfectly so it was just a case of finding Luke (Fitzgerald) because he had run a beautiful inside line at pace. And when Luke found Drico (Brian O'Driscoll) it was a nice end to a real 'team' try.

"I think you could see from the delight on the lads' faces how much it meant.

"We do a lot of work with Joe and Richie (Murphy) who looks after the skills and kicking side of things and the attention to detail by the coaches is really precise. We will practice maybe running different support lines at training and when you're focused on getting it right, more often than not it will come off."

Small details build momentum and can sometimes make dreams become reality. Bubba would have been proud.


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