Montpellier 16-16 Leinster, Heineken Cup, November 12
Schmidt salutes saviour Sexton
November 12, 2011
Fulgence Ouedraogo's first-half try had put Montpellier in with a fine chance of upsetting Leinster © Getty Images
Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt hailed Jonathan Sexton's composure and focus after he held his nerve superbly well to land the last-gasp penalty which earned the province a 16-16 draw in their Heineken Cup clash with Montpellier at the Stade de la Mosson on Saturday.
The home fans did their utmost to distract Sexton as he lined up his injury-time strike on goal but the Ireland fly-half remained calm and coolly slotted the ball between the posts to salvage a share of the spoils for his side.
"That's typical Johnny," said Schmidt. "I don't think he was rattled by it at all. I think it helps him narrow his focus and get the job done, and he did that superbly."
Leinster had found themselves ten points down with just 25 minutes to play in France, with Fulgence Ouedraogo having claimed a first-half try for the hosts and half-back duo Benoit Paillaugue and Francois Trinh-Duc contributing 11 points between them.
However, Leinster came on strong in the final quarter, Sean Cronin's 66th-minute try sparking a late onslaught which ultimately led to Sexton snatching a draw for the visitors. Even though Leinster had left it late, though, captain Leo Cullen felt his side deserved their two points.
"We created some good opportunities in the first half when we played with a bit of pace," he said. "There were a couple of key moments in the game. We were attacking inside the 22 and turned the ball over and they went down the field and scored a try so that felt like a 14-point turnaround.
"Montpellier competed very well at the breakdown and we weren't accurate enough in that area. At half-time we talked about being more clinical holding onto the ball and eventually we got over towards the end. We had some opportunities out there but so did Montpellier, so it was an even enough match really."
Meanwhile, Montpellier boss Fabien Galthie had no problem with the final scoreline and did not take any issue with the contentious penalty from which Sexton levelled the scores.
"You have to be fair and I think in the last 20 minutes it was attack against defence," he said. "Leinster had possession, they didn't lower their rhythm, they played in a methodical and structured manner. They didn't put us in too much difficulty but they made us retreat and retreat and made us foul. It wasn't stolen."
Meanwhile, Montpellier captain Ouedraogo felt that his side could not have done any more to upset the reigning European champions.
"It's mixed between disappointment and pride," he said of his emotions after the full-time whistle. "Pride because I had the impression that we gave everything, disappointment that we didn't win, but I think at the end we were suffering, and obviously against a team like Leinster we paid dearly. I don't know if we could have done any better."
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