'The biggest battle of our careers'
REACTION: Fit-again captain Jonathan Sexton told Leinster to prepare for the “biggest battle of our careers” after guiding the Irish province into a European Champions Cup Final against Saracens.
The Ireland flyhalf was in fine form as title-holders Leinster beat Toulouse 30-12 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
Victory means Leinster will have the chance to clinch a tournament-record sixth European crown when they face English champions Saracens, unbeaten in Europe this season, in the May 11 final in Newcastle.
A captain’s display from @JohnnySexton 👨✈️
Not only did the World Player of the Year get 12 crucial points, his man-of-the-match performance helped @leinsterrugby to a second successive final 👏#Heineken #ChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/ZwBGudU2Kt
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 21, 2019
Leinster won the trophy last season and Saracens lifted it the two seasons before that. The final at St James’ Park is also a repeat of last season’s quarterfinal, when Leinster ended Saracens’ bid for a third straight European crown.
Leinster outscored French league leaders Toulouse three tries to none on Sunday, with the visitors having just four penalties to show for their efforts.
Flyhalf Sexton, far from his best as Ireland lost their Six Nations title this season, was playing his first match since facing Wales in Cardiff on March 16. He had been out with a thigh injury.
Encouragingly for Irish hopes at this year’s World Cup in Japan, he looked somewhere near his best both as a goalkicker and in open play.
“During the week I felt like I was cramming for a big exam, I haven’t trained in a few weeks so I had to fit in a lot of work during the week,” Sexton told Virgin Media.
“I probably tried to do a little bit too much during the week but I’m just delighted to be in another Final.
“It’s special, but we don’t play to get to finals, we play to try and win stuff. Hopefully, we can go one step further.”
But if they are to do that, Sexton’s side must beat a Saracens team who enjoyed a commanding 32-16 win over Munster, Leinster’s Irish arch-rivals, on Saturday.
“We saw yesterday how they dominated Munster and we know how tough a side Munster are,” said Sexton. “So we’ll be up against it but we’ll prepare now for the biggest battle of our careers.”