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Leinster Comeback Stuns Saints
Record-breaking turnaround makes Leinster champions
Posted May 24, 2011 by Chris White
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Leinster produced a comeback worthy of Lazarus at the Millennium Stadium to claim their second Heineken Cup victory in three years against a shell-shocked Northampton.
Northampton went in at the break leading 22-6 and in total control of the game, but left the field at full time having lost 33-22, their second defeat in the space of a week, ending the season trophy-less when they were in sight of a league and cup double.
The comeback, the greatest in the history of the Heineken Cup, was lead by Leinster fly half Jonny Sexton, who scored 28 points, consisting of two tries, four penalties and three conversions. Down and out, Leinster had nothing to lose and everything to gain. They needed to score the first points after the break, and Sexton did just that.
The most impressive thing about the comeback was that the Irish side prevented Saints from scoring in the second half. Northampton looked stunned in a second half where Leinster dominated every area of the game. Northampton seemed to drop to their knees almost in front of your eyes. They looked completely out of ideas and needed someone to get hold of the ball, and the game, and no matter what they tried, they were second best. Once Leinster took the lead through a 40-metre Sexton penalty, there was no looking back. Rather than thinking the job was done, Leinster were ruthless. That is what Northampton should have done.
If Saints had come out after the break thinking, ‘lets finish them off’, they would’ve held on to their lead and won the cup. For every bit as good as Leinster were, Northampton were bad. They looked like a side that had spent half time celebrating their second Heineken Cup victory, rather than focusing on finishing off a team that they had on the ropes.
Maybe their first half exploits, added to the performance from the week before against Leicester in the Premiership semi final, had taken the energy out of Northampton and they were out on their feet, but with a trophy at stake and a 16-point half time lead, fatigue is no excuse, you get through on adrenaline, determination and spirit. That is exactly what Leinster showed in the second half. They might as well have lost by 100-points by having a go, and once the points started to flow, the belief grew.
There’s no doubting that Leinster deserved the title, they wanted it more, and Northampton have a lot of work to do before the new season to come back from such a soul-destroying week for the club.