Cheika chuffed with Leinster efforts
April 1, 2006
Leinster coach Michael Cheika spoke of his pride after holders Toulouse were humbled 41-35 in a remarkable Heineken Cup quarter-final at Le Stadium.
Brian O'Driscoll, Cameron Jowitt, Denis Hickie and Shane Horgan crossed while Felipe Contepomi contributed 20 points with the boot to send the favourites crashing out. Leinster were 20 points ahead with just under 15 minutes of play left and only injury-time tries from Yannick Nyanga and Yannick Jauzion gave Toulouse scoreboard respectability.
"This is a pretty big event for us as a team. Personally I'm very proud of the payers because they've worked hard,'' he said. "In the build up to the match we spoke about trying to get the performance on the day.
"We had a chequered preparation because many of the guys were coming back from the Six Nations. We knew that was the case but I'm very proud of the way they took the extra steps to get themselves ready for this match. They've had some adverse moments when they've dipped in form and I've been uptight with them, but they put in a lot of smart preparation this week.''
Leinster entered half time 19-9 ahead but three quickfire penalties shortly after the interval saw Toulouse trail just 19-18. With the holders and tournament favourites clicking through the gears, the expected home victory appeared on the cards but Leinster hit back with tries from Jowitt, Hickie and Horgan.
The flurry had put them in an unbeatable position but Cheika still feared Toulouse, who fielded an all-France backline, would stage a remarkable comeback.
"We were ahead and needed to focus on ourselves and what we wanted to do with the ball. We needed to challenge their defence and see if we could orchestrate the match,'' he said. "If you worry about Toulouse too much then you'd never sleep because they're so dangerous from every part of the pitch.
"Even when we were winning by 20 points I was still panicking because they have so much firepower. But we couldn't go into our shell - we had to keep believing in ourselves and that's what we did.''
Contepomi ran the show superbly for Leinster and Cheika paid tribute to the Argentina fly-half.
"Felipe was pretty good - we get sick of saying that. He created space for us out wide with some of his runs. He's a superb competitor,'' he said.