Leinster's man of the match Jonathon Sexton provided the halftime speech that kick-started his team’s Heineken Cup 33-22 final triumph over Northampton in Cardiff on Saturday then did his talking on the pitch.
The Ireland out-half reminded his shell-shocked Leinster teammates of Liverpool’s famous 2005 Champions League final comeback in Istanbul as they chased a 22-6 deficit in an incredible European Cup decider.
Sexton’s words worked wonders as he scored 28 points in total and Leinster ran in 27 unanswered second half points to complete the tournament’s greatest comeback ever and clinch their second Heineken Cup crown in three years.
Sexton grabbed two second half tries for himself and Nathan Hines added a third as the Blues came back from the dead to set themselves up for a unique double when they meet Munster in the Magners League final in Limerick this Saturday.
“I watch a lot of sport and that Liverpool game just stuck in my mind for some reason,” said Sexton afterwards. “I said that we see in sport that teams can come back like Liverpool a few years ago. Stuff like this happens.
“It felt it was gone when they got that third try, that everything we had done to get out of the pool and get to the final was down the drain.
“We were shell-shocked and we needed halftime. We regrouped. We had to believe and we took our chances. We have leaders who stood up in the second half. We did everything in the first half we said we weren’t going to do.
“But when a team gets a score and gets the momentum going it is hard to stop. It was like a snowball effect.”
No side had ever overturned a half-time deficit of more than nine points in a Heineken Cup final, but Sexton refused to concede defeat as Ireland captain and Leinster center Brian O’Driscoll acknowledged.
“There were some inspirational words from Jonathan at halftime which picked us up. He was a man possessed,” said O’Driscoll.
“He said this game would be remembered if we came back and we will remember this for a long time.
“We had some choice words at halftime. We knew if we could hold on to the ball we had them in trouble. We knew we had that second half display in us.
“We played against a tough opposition but we knew if we held on to the ball we knew we could create chances.
“We coughed up so much ball in the first half but that was the difference. In the second half we held on to it and the passes stuck as well.”
Leinster boss Joe Schmidt also credited scrum coach Greg Feek for sorting out the badly beaten Blues scrum at the break.
“The realization at halftime was that we had worked for nine months and we had given it away,” said Schmidt.
“Northampton are a very good team and they took every bit of advantage. We felt we hadn’t really played, hadn’t really looked after the ball.
“The comeback was down to a lot of resolve from the players who showed a heck of a lot of character. We talked about belief before the game, we talked about believing in ourselves and each other. I reiterated I still believed we could do it.
“And Jonny (Sexton) was quick to reiterate that. There was a big following of that. Feek also got the forwards together and we ironed out the scrum. We locked them down really well in the second-half.
“After that it was a case of holding the ball. I spoke about that, Jonny spoke about that. I knew we’d have to score first at half-time. Once that happened we sensed the momentum shift. The players did and the crowd did.”