Thursday 19 April 2018

'He has shown amazing resilience' - Cullen heaps praise on Sexton after masterful performance

7 October 2017; Leinster's Jonathan Sexton, left, and Jamison Gibson-Park following the Guinness PRO14 Round 6 match between Leinster and Munster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
7 October 2017; Leinster's Jonathan Sexton, left, and Jamison Gibson-Park following the Guinness PRO14 Round 6 match between Leinster and Munster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Des Berry

Leinster’s leader Jonathan Sexton led Munster a merry dance to make it five wins out of six in the PRO14 League to move alongside Ulster on 23 points in Conference B.

Sexton’s 44th minute penalty took him past Felipe Contepomi as Leinster’s all-time leading points scorer.

By the end, the Ireland playmaker had picked up 13 points from three penalties and two conversions to depart the scene of Leinster’s latest assault (23-17) on Munster at the Aviva Stadium.

There was also the personal add-on of Man of the Match for the regal form shown by the out-half.

“He has shown amazing resilience and consistency coming back at various stages,” said coach Leo Cullen.

“He has worked hard since he’s come back from the tour in New Zealand and got himself in really good shape.

“It has been good to get him through 65 minutes last week, 75 today. He is going to play a huge part in our season.”

Leinster’s four points took them level on points with Ulster in Conference B, with The Scarlets due to play The Ospreys later this evening.   

Cullen was able to report nothing more serious in injury concerns other than the usual bumps and bruises and a cut above Josh van der Flier’s eye. 

Isa Nacewa and Sean O’Brien are scheduled to run during the week before a decision will be made on their fitness for the first round of The Champions Cup.

This above-average Inter-provincial derby, played before a crowd of 46,374, should have Leinster spot-on for Montpellier next Saturday and Munster at Castres Olympique. 

Both coaches Cullen and Rassie Erasmus withdrew many frontline internationals as the game wore on with British & Irish Lions Robbie Henshaw, CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony playing out the 80 minutes.

Centre Henshaw looked rusty on his first game back, fumbling the ball twice, ahead of taking his frustration out on every carrier close to his vicinity. 

Munster were also able to come away with a relatively healthy group with discipline their main area in need of attention.

“We obviously came here to try and win and so to lose is disappointing,” reacted Erasmus.

“To get a losing bonus is a consolation but the penalty count was crazy, 8-1 at half-time and we only have ourselves to blame.”

It wasn’t all bad news as the Munster three-quarters looked sharper than they have for some time.

“We lost by six points, we lost by three tries to two,” he pointed out.

“We lost 25-14 last year and then went into Europe, this time we have narrowed the margin and that's a positive.

“We've learned a few lessons and I think we're okay."

Munster are sitting second in Conference A eight points behind Glasgow Warriors with The Cheetahs four points back in third.

Online Editors

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