Belfast Telegraph

Sexton gets hard and dirty in Leinster win

Lyon 6 Leinster 13

Expressive best: Johnny Sexton starred in Lyon for Leinster
Expressive best: Johnny Sexton starred in Lyon for Leinster

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Timing is everything. Johnny Sexton nailed his when he came out of the line and monstered Carl Fearns with a brilliant second-half tackle.

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Sexton was at his expressive best in Lyon, relishing the challenge of getting down and dirty with his team in tough conditions in France.

After the big hit on the opposition's best ball-carrier, he was blindsided and when referee Luke Pearce summoned the captains for a chat, Lyon skipper Baptiste Couillard cut in to praise the Ireland star's strength.

"It was a good battle. You know what I mean. Sometimes with those games it's just good to dig in and I'm proud of the lads and how we fronted up," Sexton said afterwards.

"Obviously, we gave away a few too many penalties that we have to look at. Lots of work on the accuracy and the discipline will be two massive things on the list for this week.

"Look, I was happy with the defensive side of things. He (Fearns) wasn't happy with me afterwards because he felt I went down easy but I was getting up and I got hit off the ball.

"I'm sure when he looks at the video he'll see that."

Sexton will probably be rested for next week's trip to Glasgow, before returning for the next big away match against Pool 1's other unbeaten side, Northampton Saints.

"The last time we played them was a few years ago," Sexton said of the resurgent English side.

"They sort of are where we were a few years ago when we were not getting the right results and we were struggling for form.

"Then suddenly... it just takes a couple of personnel changes whether coaches, staff or a new signing and you are a brand new team and that's exactly what has happened there.

"They have just gone from being in a relegation battle to top four to now being real contenders in this Champions Cup and they've got... you look at their team and they are littered with guys that are in great form after a World Cup and are real threats.

"To go to Treviso it takes a good side to go there and get five points and put them in a good position. Yeah we've got a big game coming."

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