Chiefs’ Euro dream over
BAXTER: WE JUST WENT INTO MELTDOWN MODE TOO EARLY 34
Exeter 22 Leinster STUART LANCASTER’S Leinster ended Exeter’s sixmonth reign as champions of Europe in emphatic fashion last night.
The former England boss watched proudly as his side came from 14 points down at Sandy Park to hand Chiefs their first Champions Cup defeat in 12 games.
It maintained Leinster’s record of never having lost to England’s top club.
Exeter boss Rob Baxter accepted the better side won and said: “The changing room is very quiet, very dejected. We went into meltdown mode a little bit too early. We’ve learned some very tough lessons.
“It’s disappointing but if we want to become really good and consistent in Europe we have to learn from this.”
Star of the show was Ireland fly-half Ross
Byrne, who came off the bench to replace injured Johnny Sexton and kicked 17 points.
It had all looked so easy for Exeter when they raced into a 14-point lead inside the first 10 minutes. A week after gifting Lyon the same early advantage in the previous round and having to dig themselves out of a hole, they were this time on it from the start. Sam Simmonds burst off the back of the first scrum and pulled a pass back for his halfbacks to release Tom O’Flaherty.
Henry Slade then held the Leinster backs spellbound as he danced along the gain line before cutting between the centres and sending O’Flaherty in for his second.
It was going to need something special – then Hugo Keenan powered deep into Chiefs territory, was scragged by Stuart Hogg yet somehow managed to work the scoring pass out to James Lowe. Sexton’s conversion was his last contribution as he took a blow to the head.
Yet rather than it stall their comeback, Byrne came off the style in here different style in different style bench and with his first touch sent Jordan Larmour over.
Now Leinster had the momentum and might have made it count earlier had Jonny Hill (left) been sent off, rather than concede only a penalty, for a borderline dangerous hit on Byrne.
Instead it was Exeter who scored the next try, through Dave Ewers.
But then Larmour spun brilliantly out of a tackle for his second try on the hour.
Byrne kept his composure to kick his side two scores clear and finish the job.
EXETER: Tries: O’Flaherty 2, Ewers Pens: Simmonds Con: Simmonds 2 LEInSTER: Tries: Lowe, Larmour 2 Pens: R Byrne 5; ConS: Sexton, R Byrne