On this day in 2011: Johnny Sexton seals Leinster comeback in Heineken Cup final

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Exactly a decade ago, Johnny Sexton starred in a piece of Heineken Cup history at the Millennium Stadium as Leinster completed a stunning comeback to snatch the trophy from Northampton’s grasp.

The Irish side were cut adrift at half-time, 22-6 down and with precious little hope of dragging the Saints back, but dominated the second period to run out 33-22 winners.

Ireland fly-half Sexton was the central figure in the dramatic turnaround, personally responsible for 28 points thanks to two tries, four penalties and three conversions.

Leinster’s Richard Strauss runs into the tackle of Northampton’s Phil Dowson during the Heineken Cup final in Cardiff
Leinster’s Richard Strauss runs into the tackle of Northampton’s Phil Dowson during the Heineken Cup final in Cardiff (David Davies/PA)

In doing so he fell just two points short of Diego Dominguez’s record points tally from the 2001 final.

For Leinster it was the second European crown in three years, with their third and fourth still to come in 2012 and 2018.

Northampton, captained by future England skipper Dylan Hartley, were left distraught after finishing the season empty-handed. Just seven days earlier they had been dreaming of landing the double only to be beaten by Leicester in the Premiership semi-finals.

Brian O’Driscoll later credited Sexton with an inspirational team talk during the interval, but the man himself was happy to downplay his oratory.

Brian O’Driscoll and Johnny Sexton
Brian O’Driscoll credited his Ireland team-mate Johnny Sexton with an inspirational team talk (Niall Carson/PA)

“I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to sport and I just said that we see in sport that teams can come back like Liverpool (in the 2005 Champions League final) a few years ago,” he said.

“Stuff like this happens. We had to believe and we took our chances.”

One year on, Leinster found a much simpler way to retain the cup, hammering Ulster 42-14 at Twickenham.

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