Monday, May 23, 2011
Its been called one of the greatest European cup finals weve seen, and it probably wasnt far off as Leinster came back from the dead to pull off an inspired Heineken Cup tournament win over Northampton Saints in Cardiff on Saturday.
Down 22-6 after a first half onslaught, Leinster came back to win the match 33-22 in sensational fashion. Scoring 27 unanswered points in a second half blitz, the Irish side were inspired by young Jonny Sexton, whos halftime teamtalk will no doubt become a thing of rugby folklore.
After the match, Brian ODriscoll revealed that it was the flyhalf that sparked the teams unbelievable comeback. "Besides what Jonny produced in the second half, some of his words at half-time really struck a chord.
"He was a man possessed. He said this game would be remembered if we came back. You could see he had the bit between his teeth and he was ready for it."
Sexton told his teammates that stranger things have happened in sport, that fairytales do exist and that they only needed to think back to Liverpools 3-0 down recovery in the 2005 Champions League Final to see that the impossible is indeed, possible.
"We were shell-shocked and we needed half-time. We regrouped," Sexton explained. "I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to sport and I said we see in sport that teams can come back, like Liverpool a few years ago. Stuff like that happens. We had to believe it."
Leinster came out pumped up, determined to turn things around, while Northampton were spent, having demolished their opposing pack in the first half with a one-sided scrumming performance, the likes of which are very rarely seen at this level.
With their powerhouse Soane Tonga'uiha seemingly struggling with a sore shoulder, and hooker Dylan Hartley having taken a knock to the head when scoring his first half try, the Leinster forwards looked rejuvenated, turning things on their head.
"It doesnt matter how well you play for 40. If you dont come out in the second half then the opposition will punish you," said Saints fullback Ben Foden.
"All credit to Leinster. They are the best side in Europe for a reason. I thought they were outstanding and they showed tremendous character to pick themselves up."
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