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'Leinster are in the same boat' - Luke Fitzgerald urges former team to learn from Ireland's Twickenham nightmare


Garry Ringrose is consoled by Barrett and Alex Lozowski after last year's Champions Cup final

Garry Ringrose is consoled by Barrett and Alex Lozowski after last year's Champions Cup final

Garry Ringrose is consoled by Barrett and Alex Lozowski after last year's Champions Cup final

Luke Fitzgerald has warned his former side Leinster to heed the lessons from Ireland's defeat at the hands of England if they're to triumph over European Champions Saracens when the tournament kicks off again in April. 

The English side have been embroiled in scandal after scandal this season with their punishment for breaching Premiership Rugby's Salary cap resulting in relegation to the Championship next season, meaning the Champions Cup is their own shot at silverware.

Even that looked in doubt until a comeback win in their final group game against Racing 92 before they survived the ultimate sanction after it was revealed that they had fielded Titi Lamositele the day after his work permit had expired.

But after Saracens escaped that transgression with a fine, Fitzgerald saw similarities in their win over Leinster in last May's final to England's domination of Ireland.

"I think Leinster are in the same boat when they come up against Saracens, I really believe that," he told The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Land Rover.

"Last year they looked like they had nothing to change to in the middle of the game even though they were struggling. I thought Saracens beat Leinster very, very, very well last year.

"It was interesting to hear the Leinster guys, they think it was really tight. But I think they got absolutely smashed in the tight exchanges and they were going backwards all day. They lost all the physical battles."

Many observers believed that last season's final swung on two errors made by the then champions. The call to box-kick with the scores at 10-3 coming up to half-time resulting in a turnover and a Saracens try to level matters was compounded by Garry Ringrose's third-quarter decision to step back into traffic with men over and the Saracens defence on the back foot.

However, Fitzgerald believes that the defeat came down to a lot more than that and warned the Pro14 side to be on their guard in advance of this season's quarter-final.

"People will talk about one pass to Gary Ringrose. I thought Saracens could have got two or three other tries in that match fairly easily. I thought there was a gulf in class last year," the ex-Ireland man continued.

"I thought Leinster had that one real opportunity (they didn't take) and I thought they made one mistake from a clearance kick before halftime. I thought Saracens had all the moments.

"I know we're talking about a game last year, but it is interesting because that's what's on the horizon and they're playing very similarly. And I think if you think about it, would you rather have 90% of the moments or 10% of the moments?

"I would say that the team that has 90% of the dominant moments in the game, even if they don't all convert on the day, they should still win most of the time.

"And I thought the English match against Ireland at the weekend was very much that. It was only a 12-point difference, but England had all of the moments."

Online Editors