Home Rugby Johnny Sexton Explains Why Leinster Didn’t Kick Ball Out At Halftime

Johnny Sexton Explains Why Leinster Didn’t Kick Ball Out At Halftime

Sean McMahon reporting from St James Park, Newcastle. 

With a 10-3 lead after a bruising opening 40 minutes, Leinster were in an ideal position as they looked to enter the halftime break seven points to the good.

In a final which was always going to be decided by the finest of margins, Leinster’s decision to keep the ball alive when the match clock had ticked past 40 minutes seemed unusual and in hindsight, it proved to be a costly decision.

Luke McGrath box-kicked the ball and Leinster were eventually penalised at the ruck which gave Saracens an opportunity to move up the pitch where they eventually scored through Sean Maitland.

Leinster

A potential 10-3 lead at halftime turned into a draw which was a huge psychological boost to the English side.

Johnny Sexton was quizzed on the decision not to kick the ball dead and this is what he had to say in the post-match press conference.

“Our thinking at the time was to kick the ball on Billy Vunipola, who was standing on the 22, and try to win the ball over his head and try to get a two-score lead before half-time,” Sexton said.

Johnny Sexton

“Obviously, we kicked the ball as close to their 22, you don’t want to concede a penalty and be defending a 22 lineout. Your decisions are as good as they are in hindsight.

“We made a ballsy decision when we were 3-0 up to go for a scrum and not take three points. It’s a great decision because we scored. It’s not a good decision to box kick it when you cough up a 10-3 lead.

“That period just before half-time and that period just after half-time where we had maybe two or three chances to score, that’s how it felt when we were in their 22 pounding away at their line, when we got so close to their line a couple of times and didn’t take advantage of the overlap or we coughed up a couple of offloads or a turnover on the deck.

“That 20 minute period before and after half-time was crucial in the end.”

About Sean McMahon

Sean is Head of Pundit Arena Rugby. Contact him on Twitter here: