Johnny Sexton rues missed chances in Leinster's Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens

Johnny Sexton scored a conversion and a penalty apiece in the final
Johnny Sexton scored a conversion and a penalty apiece in the final

Leinster Rugby skipper and Ireland international Johnny Sexton said the missed chances proved costly in their 10-20 defeat in the final of the Heineken Champions Cup against Saracens at St James' Park in Newcastle last weekend.

A try from Tadhg Furlong that was sandwiched between a penalty and a conversion from Sexton on either side meant Leinster got off to a promising start. They built a10 point lead, with putting them in decent odds to win, but the Sarries bounced back through touchdowns from Sean Maitland and Billy Vunipola to lift their third European title in four years.

“Obviously, when you kick the ball towards the Saracens 22, you don’t then want to concede a penalty and find yourself defending a 22-metre line-out," said Sexton.

“Your decisions are as good as they are in hindsight. We made some ballsy decisions out on the park. When we took the scrum instead of three points, it paid off, because we scored a try.

“On the other hand, our decision to kick and cough up a 10-3 lead before half-time was not so good. That period just before and after half-time – where we had two or three chances to score but didn’t take advantage – was crucial in the game.”

Leinster also had a setback in the 58th minute when the game was on the balance with Scott Fardy sin-binned and it allowed Mark McCall's men to stamp their authority in the game.

"When you go down to 14 men against Saracens, it is very difficult and they won the battles which counted," he added.

"I felt the moment just before half-time and the moments after half-time – where we didn’t capitalise on some good try-scoring opportunities – is where I feel this was lost.

“The small margins were won before and after half-time, and there are things in hindsight we would love to change, but we can’t do so.

“It was a ferocious match, it was Test-match stuff, and I am incredibly proud of every one of us. We never backed down, but Saracens did what they do best, even though we weren’t missing tackles. They kept pressing us back and steamrolled up at times.”


European Rugby Champions Cup Points Table