Tuesday 20 August 2019

'They took their chances and we didn't take ours' - Johnny Sexton magnanimous after Leinster suffer first European final loss

Jonathan Sexton shakes hands with Leinster head coach Leo Cullen following the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and Saracens at St James' Park in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton shakes hands with Leinster head coach Leo Cullen following the Heineken Champions Cup Final match between Leinster and Saracens at St James' Park in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Leinster captain Johnny Sexton lamented missed opportunities as the Blues surrendered their European crown to Saracens at St James's Park.

A brutal contest in front of a 52,000 crowd ended with Saracens becoming the most successful English club in European Cup history.

And they did it the hard way, wiping out a 10-point deficit through tries by wing Sean Maitland and number eight Billy Vunipola, plus two penalties and two conversions from Owen Farrell.

Prop Tadhg Furlong claimed a first-half touchdown for Leinster, while skipper Johnny Sexton added a conversion and penalty, but hopes of the Irishmen claiming a record fifth European title were dashed.

Saracens proved unstoppable once Maitland touched down following a dominant Leinster opening, ultimately overcoming a yellow card for Maro Itoje to power home and taste Champions Cup glory once again.

Leinster had chances, particularly at the beginning of the second half, but they failed to capitalise on their pressure.

"We conceded just before half-time which was a killer moment," Sexton told Virgin Media Sport.

"We made a ballsy enough play. At a ruck, we could have put it dead and kicked it out. We were thinking, 'lets put pressure on them and get another score.' Like I say, you can never sit back and we've got a chance to put it up and win it in the air.

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"We didn't take it and they scored just before half-time. But it's not the game, we had lots of chances in the second half. That's the way I saw it anyway.

"We started the second half really well and had two or three chances but we didn't take them.

"They were very clinical and they are an excellent side.

"They took their chances and we didn't take ours.

"We coughed the ball up close to their line a few times which we don't normally do."

Sexton sounded a defiant note as Leinster suffered a first European final defeat.

"It's gutting for this group, we're a very close group. We came through some tough times last year to win it and we'll bounce back again."

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