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Dublin: 6°C Friday 4 December 2020
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Breakdown 'chaos', Leinster rust and looming semi-final on Sexton's mind after restart

The new law interpretations made reopening night a frustrating one for the Leinster captain.

Sexton greets the officials post-match.
Sexton greets the officials post-match.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A RAFT OF new breakdown interpretations made for a chaotic reopening night from Johnny Sexton’s point of view.

Penalty counts in many competitions have skewed upwards as teams try to get to grips with newly-implemented methods from World Rugby to tidy up the breakdown.

For Sexton, the ruck proved to be a frustration throughout Saturday night’s tight 27-25 win over Munster.

Indeed, he seemed to stop himself turning the post-match virtual press conference from a PG to a 15s cert after his side conceded 17 of the game’s 26 penalties.

“Obviously the breakdown was an absolute… it was chaos,” said the Leinster captain.

“We couldn’t seem to get any flow into our game. We got some momentum back in terms of the result. To start with a win is very important. That’s about it really. Not too much to talk about. Stop-start affair.”

What should we expect with the renewed focus on the breakdown laws?

Sexton helped guide Leinster well enough in the ‘start’ sections to bring them into a 24-13 lead, but their 22-match winning streak was put in grave danger by a Munster fightback ignited after Devin Toner was sin-binned. The veteran second row, however, came up with a brilliant late intercept to end Munster’s last attack.

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“First game in six months, probably only my fourth in nine months,” said the out-half when asked to rate his own performance.

“Plenty of rust. I tried to train hard over lockdown, but it’s tough at times when you’re on your own to do all the skill work, but you do what you have to do.
But it was a lot of rust on show tonight. We need to be better individually and better going forward.

“There were some glimpses of great play, mixed in with a bit of rust, mediocrity. We expected that. We talked about bouncing back from mistakes because we knew there were going to be mistakes – conditions were tricky as well with the wind and a bit of grease.

“There were moments of great play, but it wasn’t consistent enough.”

The rust and the ruck should see some improvements when players get into their second game back next weekend. No promise on the weather, but with Leinster long-since secure in their place in the Pro14 semi-final Sexton allowed his focus to shift a little further ahead. To the semi-finals, which will likely see many of tonight’s clashes repeated.

 ”We know we got a semi-final to look forward to, probably against the same opposition we played tonight.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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