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Published: 22:14 | 1/4/17

Sexton: Leinster targeted Cipriani in win over Wasps

Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton feels that mistakes from his team made their 32-17 victory over Wasps in the Champions Cup quarter-finals closer than it should have been.

Having led 22-3 at the interval, two second half tries for Wasps reduced the margin to 25-17, before Leinster rallied to romp home.

Speaking post-match, Sexton said: “They capitalised on a couple of our mistakes. Twice we were one yard from their line and we lost the ball and they’re underneath our posts. They’re a very dangerous team, which is why they are where they are [top of the Premiership table].

“We were disappointed with some of our mistakes. Conditions were pretty horrific. The ball was like a bar of soap and there were swirling winds, so that didn’t help. That probably made for a few errors and they capitalised on a few of ours.”

Wasps outhalf Danny Ciprinai endured a difficult afternoon and was substituted for Alapati Leiua on 55 minutes, with Jimmy Gopperth switching from 12 to 10 for the English side, a move which ignited Wasps brief revival. When pressed, Sexton admitted that the Irish province had deliberately targeted Cipriani, a tactic which clearly paid dividends.
“We’ve got a physical backline and we wanted to show that,” said Sexton. “I thought Danny stood up well. A couple of times he turned the ball over, but everyone targets the No 10, and tries to put him off his game. That’s what they tried to do to us. We tried to do that to him.”

Head coach Leo Cullen pointed to his team’s game management ability in the second period as crucial to the victory and also hinted at more to come from his team in the upcoming semi-final against the winner of Sunday’s clash between Clermont and Toulon.

“I thought we managed the field position in that second half, so we were able to play territory,” said Cullen. “We had a lot of possession, but they were able to break out from deep and I thought the guys closed the game out relatively well. It’s important for people to remember it’s their first game back [after the Six Nations] since January. We’ve got a bit of time to work on things over the next couple of weeks.”

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