Late Johnny Sexton penalty leads Leinster to European Rugby Champions Cup title
Johnny Sexton has led Leinster to the European Rugby Champions Cup title after a 15-12 win over Racing 92 in Bilbao.
Neither team scored a try all afternoon, and it came down to a duel between Racing’s Teddy Iribaren and Sexton. Sexton finally triumphed with Leinster’s fifth penalty in the 78th minute.
Iribaren put Racing 92 three points up in the fourth minute after Garry Ringrose was penalised for a high tackle on Virimi Vakatawa. The boot of Sexton levelled the score 10 minutes later though.
Another penalty was converted by Iribaren. This time, the Leinster pack infringed while attempting to stop a maul.
Leinster wasted a good opportunity just before halftime when Isa Nacewa won a penalty. Sexton looked to the corner but decided on the tap-and-go but the ball was quickly turned over by Dan Leavy.
The Irish side did go in at halftime level though when Leone Nakarawa gave away a penalty after failing to intercept a pass. Sexton stepped up to add three more to his tally.
Racing started the second half strongly and got to within 10 metres before a defender was called offside. Iribaren continued his perfect start with a kick from in front of the posts.
The teams continued to trade penalties but Sexton was the first to falter. He took on a kick from the halfway line after Eddy Arous blocked off Luke McGrath, but a horrible slice kept Racing ahead.
He made up for it five minutes later, dissecting the posts after Racing went offside.
Leinster then had a chance to go ahead for the first time in the match but, again, Sexton didn’t have enough juice on his long-ranger and the score stayed level at nine.
A high tackle then gave Racing the chance to take the lead with 17 minutes remaining, but this time Iribaren’s kick fell short.
Racing won a penalty out wide after Leinster impeded on the line-out and Iribaren put Racing in front, but a high tackle gave Leinster the chance to level. This time, Nacewa kicked through from the 22 with Sexton receiving treatment.
Leinster won the match with just two minutes to spare when Sexton put the final kick through, and Racing pushed forward but could only put a drop-goal attempt wide of the posts.