Sunday 25 August 2019

Leinster's Sean Cronin plays down Champions Cup favourites tag after sealing top seeding

Sean Cronin of Leinster celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's third try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 6 match between Montpellier and Leinster at the Altrad Stadium in Montpellier, France. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Sean Cronin of Leinster celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's third try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 6 match between Montpellier and Leinster at the Altrad Stadium in Montpellier, France. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin believes their top seeding in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals is no guarantee they will sail through the knockout stages.

The Ireland front-rower scored the decisive try to seal the 23-14 triumph over Montpellier that made it six wins from six matches in their Pool Three campaign.

The three-time European champions will therefore host one of the second-placed teams in the competition but Cronin does not think they can take success for granted.

He said: "We might have the favourites' tag but there will be eight quality teams in the quarter-finals with past winners in there too.

"Whoever we get it will be a real challenge and that's why it's good to get a home quarter-final, but that's no guarantee either. We're looking forward to it, it will be a huge occasion."

Leinster made an ideal start when Ross Byrne touched down in the corner after a James Lowe break.

But Montpellier fought back through their powerful driving maul. First Bismarck Du Plessis was shunted over the try-line before Yacouba Camara finished off a neat move at the back of a lineout.

Leinster came out fighting at the start of the second half and built pressure thanks to a number of close-range carries around the ruck.

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Leo Cullen's men stayed patient and found Robbie Henshaw in space, who scored to put Leinster back on top.

They then gave their hosts a taste of their own medicine when Cronin crashed over at the back of a powerful maul.

Cronin added: "It was a big focus for us to get the win because we've struggled coming over to France in recent years.

"We wanted to prove we are moving forward as a squad and do it for the support, it was great to see the blue flags flying.

"They are a quality side and we needed to match them up front, in the scrum and in the maul. We conceded a couple of maul tries but scored one as well so it was nip and tuck. It's hard to come here and get a result but we're really pleased with it."

Isa Nacewa captained the side from inside centre and feels the biggest challenge lies ahead despite overcoming the French side.

He said: "The pool stages are so difficult to get out of and we set little goals that got us there.

"We've done our job so far but face a massive job to go even further. We're just glad to get out of here with the win, that's as far as we will look."

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