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A disappointed Jonathan Sexton after Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final 22-17 defeat to Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Ramsey Cardy

A disappointed Jonathan Sexton after Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final 22-17 defeat to Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Ramsey Cardy

A disappointed Jonathan Sexton after Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final 22-17 defeat to Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Ramsey Cardy

Leinster's hopes of delivering the perfect season died a slow, painful death at the hands of Saracens at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Beaten by the same opposition in the final of Heineken Champions Cup last season, Leinster's winning run since then has come to a halt in the quarter-final.

The home side did well to battle back into the contest having been 22-3 down at the break, and might have gone a step further had man-of-the-match Michel Rhodes been carded for a high shot that flattened Johnny Sexton.

Leo Cullen was circumspect on whether Rhodes should have been carded.

"Potentially," he said. "They (the officials) had a good look at it. They made their call, so we just have to get on with it."

Saracens rode their luck at that point, but they deserved to despite trailing 2-1 on the try count. For Mark McCall's side it was classic cup rugby: one piece at a time. They had the wind in the first half and used it to perfection.

"I just thought we got a little bit spooked pretty much from the kick-off," Cullen added. "We don't quite deal with it and Saracens score. We struggled to get ourselves into the game and we played right into their hands in many ways.

"It comes back to that mentality that we know they have - 3, 6, 9, 12 (points). And we handed them those opportunities. On those long ones, Elliot Daly did well to slot them over from 50-metres-plus. They're all things we were aware of coming into the match but we couldn't quite deal with it.

"Saracens, you go through their team and they have a hell of a lot of top-level experience and they probably managed the big occasion better. It's a big occasion, I know there's not a crowd here but it's still a big occasion."

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