Thursday 14 November 2019

Last year's agony still leaves bitter taste -- Sexton

Hugh Farrelly

Last year's failures are driving Leinster on as they seek to become the first side to achieve the Heineken Cup and Magners League double -- with out-half Jonathan Sexton stressing that "it can all be taken away from you".

Sexton was superb in Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final victory over Toulouse, kicking eight from eight and oozing control throughout as Leinster defeated the European champions 32-23. However, while Leinster are favourites for the Heineken Cup final against Northampton and second favourites for the Magners League title behind Munster, Sexton has issued a note of caution.

"We are very wary of what happened last season, suddenly it all gets taken away from you," said the 25-year-old.

"We got to the final of the Magners and lost at home to the Ospreys, and that still leaves a bitter taste. Losing away to Toulouse in the (Heineken Cup) semi as well... last season could have been a brilliant season and we finished with nothing.

"We're in that position again now, it's up to us to try and finish it. We've got potentially four games left and if we could win all four it would be something nobody's ever done before. That's what's motivating us."

Sexton says Leinster used the anger in the squad from their recent defeat to Munster in Thomond Park to spur them on in the knockout stages in Europe.

"Definitely. We were fairly angry and that could be a turning point in our season, but we haven't talked too much about the Heineken Cup final yet," he said.

"It has just been drilled into us that it's back to Magners League duty this weekend and everything is about trying to get a home semi-final in that."

Leinster face Glasgow in the RDS on Friday night, knowing that victory will secure a home semi-final. Munster are 14 points ahead at the top of the table and have already guaranteed a home semi-final heading into the final round of regular fixtures.

In other news, Tony McGahan's side have only one representative (Ronan O'Gara) on the Magners League Dream Team of the season -- while Leinster have five in Isa Nacewa, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

Irish Independent

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