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'Important win' has put Leinster back in charge of their own title destiny, says Johnny Sexton



Johnny Sexton celebrates after the game with Hugo Keenan

Johnny Sexton celebrates after the game with Hugo Keenan

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Leo Cullen

Leo Cullen

�INPHO/Dan Sheridan


Johnny Sexton celebrates after the game with Hugo Keenan

Leinster's hunt for a fourth successive PRO14 title is back in their own hands, believes Johnny Sexton.

Leo Cullen's side went into Friday's victory over Ulster trailing the northern province by 10 points with two games in hand but their 24-12 win in the RDS, coming as it did via four tries, has cut that deficit to only five.

With only one team from the conference able to progress to this season's final, it is the champions who are back in the box seat despite a first loss of the campaign to Connacht earlier this month.

"It was a very important win for the club," the Irish skipper said.

"We knew how important it was in terms of the league table, obviously there's only a few games left to play and whoever finishes top will go to that final.

"So we wanted to put in a big performance. Getting four tries was an added bonus, and to deny them anything was great as well.

"I suppose it's in our hands now and there's a lot of work to do. We're probably going to lose a few players to the international window and then the rest of the squad are going to have to pick it up.

"We've got a few really tough games to play and during the Six Nations window and we won't know who is available.

"It's always been a squad effort in this club, for a lot of reasons, and it will be no different now."

After that loss to Connacht when last on their home patch, the onus was on Leinster to make a statement but their much-changed side made a slow start.

Trailing 9-5 at half-time despite Ulster having had Marcell Coetzee sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle, their dominance after the turn was pronounced, running in three tries and coughing up only one John Cooney penalty to Ulster.

Sexton admitted there was a degree of rust with Cullen having restored all his big guns for a rare PRO14 outing together.

"We needed to get a game together, for me I haven't (played) for Leinster for a long time apart from 20 minutes last week so it's about getting that continuity," Sexton added.

"You could see we were very rusty, especially in the first-half, and I was very proud of how we gathered ourselves at half-time and had a very good second half performance."

Leo Cullen was equally pleased with his side's second-half improvements that turned the game.

"We looked a little bit disjointed at times in the first-half," added the head coach.

"We responded pretty well at half-time and came out and controlled field position and territory, and possession pretty well for the start of the second-half."

Belfast Telegraph