Heineken Cup - O'Driscoll lauds Sexton inspiration

Sun, 22 May 13:03:00 2011

Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll revealed some "inspirational" words from man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton helped the Irish province turn the Heineken Cup final on its head as they beat Northampton 33-22 in Cardiff.

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The Saints had looked well on their way to European glory when they secured a 22-6 interval lead. The Premiership side ran in three tries through Phil Dowson, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley, but Leinster produced an almost flawless second-half performance as the superb Sexton ran in two tries and kicked 12 points, with Nathan Hines grabbing a third score, to clinch a remarkable win.

O'Driscoll told Sky Sports 1: "We had some choice words at half-time. We knew if we could hold on to the ball we had them in trouble. There were some inspirational words from Jonathan at half-time which picked us up, he was a man possessed. He said this game would be remembered if we came back and we will remember this for a long time."

He added: "We knew we had that (second-half display) in us. We played against a tough opposition but we knew if we held on to the ball we knew we could create chances."

But the Ireland legend was at a loss to explain how his men had been so poor during the first stanza.

"We coughed up so much ball, but that was the difference. In the second half we held on to it and the passes stuck as well," he said.

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder felt his side's fatigue after their bruising Premiership semi-final loss at Leicester had been a factor in their defeat, especially as Leinster had been able to withdraw some key players during their more comfortable Magners League semi win over Ulster.

"We were tired, you could tell at half-time," he said. "It was just a case of telling the lads to dig in for just 40 more minutes but the long season took its toll in the end.

"It was a full on game, it was very fast and credit to all the players involved.

"But we will come back stronger. We have always improved and we have said, in the huddle at the end, let's see if we can win it next time."

PA Sport

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