Saturday wrap: Leinster crowned kings of Europe

Charlie Talbot-Smith
13 May 2018

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Isa Nacewa was Leinster’s departing hero with two late penalties to lift them to a stunning fourth Champions Cup crown in Bilbao.

Despite only leading for two of the 80 minutes against an injury-ravaged Racing 92, the Guinness PRO14 side emerged victorious at the San Mames.

They now join Toulouse as the only two European sides to have won Europe’s top title four times.

  • Dan Carter injured in pre-match buildup and Pat Lambie limps off after only three minutes
  • Teddy Iribaren stars for Racing with all of their points from the kicking tee
  • Three Jonathan Sexton penalties keep Leinster in touch
  • Two Isa Nacewa kicks then give the province the lead in the closing stages
  • Lock James Ryan named man of the match
  • Leone Nakarawa – formerly of Glasgow Warriors and a Guinness PRO14 champion – named European player of the year
  • Nacewa will retire at the end of the season, but not before Leinster go for a Guinness PRO14 and European double

What they said

Jonathan Sexton, Leinster fly-half, who has now won four European titles:

“We did it the hard way, I don’t know what to say. We couldn’t get going at all during the game,” he said.

“They came out and slowed us down at the ruck and that’s the way to beat us. But we did it the hard way and I can’t believe we’re champions again.

“We’ve got a big game next week, trying to get to another final. There’s still work to complete a dream season.

“These young guys are very hungry and it’s up to us old lads to stay hungry as well.”

The retiring Isa Nacewa: “It’s a special day for the province, a lot went into this campaign that probably goes unnoticed.

“To do it on the biggest stage in a different way to win the game is pretty special. It’s good to be in a good shape as a club going forward.”

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster: “It means a huge amount to me obviously but a huge amount to my family and friends.

“They are the ones who all stood by me in the tough times and never once wavered.

“That was nice to have my wife and my son here and my daughter Sophie at home, this was for them really.”

Former Munster lock Donnacha Ryan, now of Racing 92

“It’s obviously disappointing, but credit to Leinster, they haven’t lost a game all season, and they’re obviously champions,” he said.

“I thought we had a bit of control with 10 minutes to go, but there was a lack of communication in defence. Credit to Leinster, they kept coming. Ball retention was very good, we just needed to be a bit more technical.”

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