Sexton reflects on Champions Cup heartbreak with 'big regret'

Aubrey Yates
May 16, 2019

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.

There was an extra bonus for Saracens fullback Alex Goode, who, despite being consistently overlooked by England, was named European Player of the Year.

The defending champions travelled to Newcastle seeking history as the first side to claim five European titles, but were swept aside by Saracens who battled back from 10-0 down to clinch a 20-10 victory and claim a third Champions Cup success.

And Leinster struck while Itoje was off as Furlong crashed over from close range after the Irish side opted for an attacking scrum rather than a penalty kick, and Sexton's conversion made it 10-0.

Barritt became only the second captain after current Leinster head coach Leo Cullen to lift European club rugby's showpiece trophy three times, taking him past Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Jonny Wilkinson and Fabien Pelous.

"I think he's been really good, and his team mates have supported him very well". Owen, in particular, just said that at times we'd been a bit tentative.

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"It was nearly like the Maro yellow card released us and allowed us to play our game, and it's just pleasing when you can have a reaction", Saracens skipper Barritt said. I can't speak highly of the leaders around me but more importantly how the team responded to these key messages. They will also contest the Gallagher Premiership semi-final later this month in their pursuit of a league and cup double.

Captain Sexton was left to rue a missed opportunity after Leinster suffered the heartbreak of defeat in a European final for the first time.

Farrell opened Saracens' account by landing a penalty just before the break, and then they hit Leinster by scoring a try on the stroke of half-time. There's lots of learning for us for that game, how you play this type of team which tries to suffocate you and what our version of pressure rugby is against them. When a team's trying to chase the game against them it's so hard because they're so aggressive. Cullen said "I thought the Saracens bench came on and did well".

They overcame a series of setbacks to haul themselves level at halftime and gradually strangled the life out of the normally attack-dominant Irish side with vast physicality and self-belief to triumph 20-10.

"We need to dust ourselves off now, we can talk about so many different parts of the game".

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