Sexton reflects on Champions Cup heartbreak with 'big regret'

By Peter Thompson 12 May 2019 2
Sexton reflects on Champions Cup heartbreak with 'big regret'

Johnny Sexton reflected on the European Champions Cup final with "big regret" after Saracens dethroned Leinster with a 20-10 victory at St James' Park on Saturday.

Sarries roared back from 10-0 down in a ferocious decider in Newcastle to regain a trophy they won in 2016 and 2017.

It was sweet revenge for the Premiership champions, who were beaten by the Irish province at the quarter-final stage last season. 

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

"It's a big regret and you'd love to go and play the match again, but you don't," said the World Rugby Player of the Year.

"You never want that to happen in a final, you want to have no regrets.

"And we'll look back at some key moments, especially at the start of the second half, when I just felt we had the upper hand and we didn't quite capitalise on it."

The Ireland fly-half is confident Leo Cullen's side will put the agony behind them, with a Pro14 title still up for grabs.

"I don't think it’s arrogant or over-confident to say that we've been the two best sides in Europe," said the British and Irish Lions playmaker.

"We met at a quarter-final stage last year, obviously we had home advantage that day. Neutral venue [for the Champions Cup final], and they just got the upper hand.

"So we feel we're close to the top. You don't get to a final if you're not near the top. We’ll just take lots of learnings from it, and I think we'll bounce back."

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Peter Thompson