John Burke reports on Leinster’s outstanding performance and convincing win over title holders Saracens in Champions Cup Quarter Final.
Leinster took one step closer to European glory after a convincing quarter final performance against Saracens in last weekend’s Champions Cup clash.
Leo Cullen’s men had the perfect start when Gary Ringrose ran up the wing from inside the Leinster half to score under the posts with the conversion from Johnny Sexton for an early 7-0 lead.
Saracens held possession for most of the first half but struggled to capitalise with their only points coming from three penalty kicks from Owen Farrell – from poor Leinster errors – followed by a long distance penalty from Marcelo Bosch. However Sexton kept Leinster ahead, slotting two superb penalties in the closing minutes of the half to put the score at 13-12.
Leinster came out all guns blazing in the second-half and set the pace with one of the best tries of the season. Dan Leavy burst through the Saracens defence on a short line off an inside ball from James Ryan, showing serious pace for an open side flanker to run it in under the posts, making the score 23-12 giving Leinster a fantastic lead.
Leinster’s third try was scored by James Lowe burying his way over the line in the corner followed by Johnny Sexton’s touchline conversion to put the score at 30-12.
Saracens salvaged some sort of a comeback to make it a more respectable scoreline after a try from a maul, bulldozing the Leinster pack over the line with fifteen minutes to go. However the score ended as a consolation for the Premiership side.
After the game Leo Cullen praised the men in blue for executing the basics in the post-match press conference: “We started the second half very well, which generally put us in the right areas of the pitch to capitalise and score, we carried well and were good around the ruck”.
Man of the match Dan Leavy was over the moon with the fantastic win, saying “We have been working extremely hard up to this point and it is going to continue. We have to build onto the next game against Scarlet’s which will be another extremely difficult challenge, I can’t fault any of my teammates today though. What a huge performance put in from one to twenty three”.
Leinster are showing as good of form as they ever have and arguably better than they did when they last won the Champions Cup in 2012. The aim for them now is to take on Scarlet’s in the semi final and keep the momentum going. Ultimately the old cliché to “take every game as they come” will be used by the players and management, in the run up to the semi-final, but there will be no doubt now in players and supporters minds that they want to be crowned champions in Bilbao on the 12th of May.