Hovering across the center of the Sandy Park pitch, savouring the second with a Facetime name to his household, Stuart Lancaster was the final Englishman standing.
For the previous Pink Rose coach, this was a day to recollect. For everybody else related to English rugby, it was a weekend to neglect, because the Premiership’s final challenger tumbled out within the quarter-finals.
Exeter’s European title defence was dropped at a grinding halt. They had been crushed at their very own recreation: out-scrummed and outmuscled as Leinster’s pedigree got here to the fore. On the largest membership stage earlier than the Lions tour, the likes of Henry Slade, Stuart Hogg and Sam Simmonds had been outshone of their duels with Robbie Henshaw, Hugo Keenan and Jack Conan.
Reigning champions Exeter had been knocked out of the Champions Cup by Leinster at Sandy Park
For 10 minutes, Exeter confirmed their true champion high quality. Their title defence seemed in tremendous fettle as they stormed to an early 14-0 lead, constructed upon their trademark construction and physicality.
In a match loaded with worldwide stars, nevertheless, it was little-known Tom O’Flaherty who shone brightest within the early exchanges. The pint-sized participant, who was rejected by the English academy system, ripped via Irish internationals.
Following a strong Simmonds break from the bottom of the scrum, O’Flaherty ran via Keenan and Johnny Sexton to attain a first-phase attempt. Moments later, after 13 phases of attacking play, Slade ghosted previous Rory O’Loughlin to arrange O’Flaherty’s second.
At that second, Leinster might have folded. Lancaster watched on, unfazed, and his gamers confirmed the composure of four-time champions.
One attempt from James Lowe and two from Jordan Larmour noticed the Irish aspect battle again
Exeter’s abrasive model is just like South Africa. Lions coach Warren Gatland might be involved by the best way Sexton was left surrounded by three medics following a crunching hit by Dave Ewers and, after taking part in a job in James Lowe’s attempt, taken off early with a head harm.
His alternative, Ross Byrne, stepped as much as the problem, taking part in a job in Jordan Larmour’s equalising attempt together with his first contact.
Leinster kicked the ball lengthy, inviting the hosts to run it again from deep in their very own territory. Each time they did, the likes of Conan, Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier had been ready to win turnovers. Byrne profited, kicking Leinster to a halftime lead, as Jonny Hill escaped a card for a excessive deal with.
Exeter edged their method again in entrance after the break. Ewers scored from a driving lineout, earlier than Joe Simmonds kicked a penalty. However the comeback was quick lived.
Leinster’s Ross Byrne made an important contribution by kicking 17 factors together with 5 penalties
Chiefs had been unable to rediscover their buildings and, after dropping a lineout on their very own five-metre line, watched Larmour wrestle over.
Errors crept in because the hosts chased the sport, throwing fast lineouts and taking dangers. They had been turned over, threw ahead passes and conceded penalties for poor deal with approach — in distinction to the sensible execution by Henshaw and his blue wall of defenders.
‘That’s what the strain of aspect can do,’ mentioned Exeter coach Rob Baxter.
In the meantime, Steve Borthwick refused to touch upon any hyperlink with him and the Lions tour to South Africa after guiding Leicester to a 39-15 win over Newcastle within the Problem Cup quarter-finals.
The Tigers head coach is rumoured to have rejected an strategy to hitch the teaching employees for the tour and mentioned: “I’m not inquisitive about something aside from what is occurring at Leicester Tigers.’