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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018

Talking points after Leinster scalp English champions Chiefs

It was a sensational Sunday night in Devon for Leo Cullen’s men.

Leinster’s 100% success rate in the Champions Cup  continued today against English champions Exeter in Devon. You can find our match report from Sandy Park here, or read on for some immediate reaction.

The pool’s biggest fish

The end of Exeter’s seven-game winning streak, not to mention a year-long unbeaten home record, leaves Leinster in complete command of pool 3, sitting a full six points clear of both Exeter and Montpellier.

In this competition though, that sort of buffer isn’t so much room to manoeuvre as it is a call to drive the advantage home in the chase of a home quarter-final.

Leinster haven’t for one second looked ready to ease off the pedal in this competition this season, but if they were to suffer a mental lapse that six-point chasm wouldn’t be long closing. The clear and present danger remain the Chiefs, who will bring a bruised pride to the Aviva Stadium next weekend.

Not a Sunday driver in sight

The Chiefs may have only been able to boast three players (not including Lion Jack Nowell) in Eddie Jones’ England squad last month, but they never worry much about that in these parts. It’s matches like this one, played at a ferocious intensity from start to finish, that gives rise to the cliche that Champions Cup matches come close to Test match standards.

Tadhg Furlong with Don Armand Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

This was not a night for the feint-hearted, enormous efforts were demanded of both teams to withstand sets of phases that almost routinely ticked up over 20. It was fitting that Conan’s try came from the game’s defining trait, an epic 44-phase onslaught from the eastern province that eventually yielded fruit.

Provinces ride out the storm

The December back-to-backs are always an important fulcrum when it comes to determining the outcome of Champions Cup pools, and over a weekend of bitterly cold and some damn near blizzard conditions all four provinces pulled the all-weather gear on to get the job done.

Mike Brown Harlequins' Mike Brown during the defeat to Ulster. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Coaches will point to historic results as proof that dominance can be easily tilted in the space of seven days, and they’re right, but bonus point wins for Munster and Connacht along with incredibly impressive displays in England by Ulster and Leinster leaves three provinces sitting pretty at the top of their respective pools – and even Ulster have reason to be cheerful as they get tucked into La Rochelle’s slip-stream.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Leinster grind out crucial Champions Cup victory in Exeter epic

As it happened: Exeter Chiefs v Leinster, Champions Cup

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Sean Farrell

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