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Saracens (11) 23 - 25 (12) Leinster Rugby
Wembley Stadium, London
Saturday, 16 October 2010, 17:45

Without a win on the road this season and without talisman Brian O'Driscoll, the majority of Leinster fans travelled to Wembley more in hope than in expectation. The London venue became the 91st to hold a Heineken Cup game and with an impressive attendance of 45,892, you can understand why Saracens moved the match to the home of English soccer. The main talking point pre-match however was the red posts, which seemed to blend in with the seats behind.

Jonny Sexton resumed his normal kicking duties, and it was he who opened the scoring with a 47 metre penalty in the seventh minute, with a little help from the crossbar. Saracens then missed a chance to go level, and when they were awarded another penalty out-half Derick Hougaard elected to go for touch. Their bravery was rewarded, as it lead to the opening try, which saw Andy Goode go over on the right after selling the onrushing Leinster defence a dummy pass. Hougaard failed to add the extras, but made up for it minutes later adding another penalty to increase Saracens advantage to 8 - 3.

Leinster came back at Saracens and prop Cian Healy was only denied a try by the TMO who judged that he had failed to ground the ball. The team kept up the pressure on Saracens though and two Jonny Sexton penalties put them back into the lead. Some further Leinster ill discipline however gave Hougaard another shot at goal, which he duly converted, before Sexton scored the last points of the half with another penalty to give Leinster the most slender of advantages at half time.

The Leinster out half continued his 100% accuracy with the boot in the second half, when he extended Leinsters lead shortly after the break with another penalty. Shortly after that, Saracens lost out half Haggaard to a suspected Achilles injury, while Leinsters centre Luke Fitzgerald, also left the field of play with an injury. It was now that Leinster sparked into action.  A fantastic move from within their own half started by Jonny Sexton sent Isa Nacewa galloping up the touch line past Strettle before some fine hands from Fergus McFadden allowed Sexton to cross the line.  He nailed the touchline conversion to bring his personal tally for the day to 22.

The home team weren't about to let the occasion pass though and two Goode penalties which coincided with the sin-binning of Strauss for repeated team infringements at the breakdown, gave the London outfit the hope of at least a losing bonus point. Both teams then shared penalties to leave Leinster with a five-point advantage going into the last fifteen minutes.

A scrum infringement however gave Goode another opportunity, which he duly took, leaving only 2 points between the sides with six minutes remaining. The ensuing 6 minutes saw Leinster withstand thirty phases of attack, with nearly all of the action taking place between the two ten metre lines, before a knock on signalled the final whistle and a huge victory for Leinster in the context of the group. The final phases showed that there is life after McQuilkin. Leinster will now look to take this form into the next round of Magners League games. After a slow start to the season things are starting to come together nicely.

Match Statistics
(11) 23 - 25 (12)
Leinster Rugby
Tries Goode


Penalties Hougaard (2)
Goode (4)

Sexton (6)


Teams Alex Goode
15 Robert Kearney
David Strettle
14 Shane Horgan
Adam Powell
13 Luke Fitzgerald
Brad Barritt 12 Gordon D'Arcy
Chris Wyles 11 Isa Nacewa
Derick Hougaard 10 Jonathan Sexton
Richard Wigglesworth 9 Eoin Reddan

Deon Carstens 1 Cian Healy
Schalk Brits 2 Richardt Strauss
Carlos Nieto 3 Mike Ross
Steve Borthwick (C)
4 Nathan Hines
Mouritz Botha 5 Devin Toner
Jacques Burger 6 Sean O'Brien
Andy Saull 7 Shane Jennings
Ernst Joubert 8 Jamie Heaslip (C)

Replacements Jamie George 16 Jason Harris-Wright (for Jennings, 66-71)
Matt Parr 17 Heinke van der Merwe (for Healy, 60)
Richard Skuse 18 Simon Shawe (for Ross, 76)
Hayden Smith 19 Leo Cullen (for Toner, 69)
Kelly Brown 20 Dominic Ryan
Neil de Kock 21 Isaac Boss (for Reddan, 57)
Kameli Ratuvou 22 Fergus McFadden (for Fitzgerald, 47)
Noah Cato 23 Eoin O'Malley
Not Considered
due to Injury

Stan Wright,
Kevin McLaughlin,
Shaun Berne,
Ed O'Donoghue,
John Fogarty,
Brian O'Driscoll
Officials Referee: Christophe Berdos (FFR),
Assistant Referees: Cedric Marchat (FFR), Jean-Luc Rebollal (FFR)

by Stephen Devine, © 2011-08-23