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17th Dec 2017

‘That was one of the toughest games I’ve ever played’ – Garry Ringrose on Leinster’s win over Exeter

Jack O'Toole

Johnny Sexton went off with a head injury in the second minute. Ross Byrne smashed heads with Nic White a short while after. Sean Cronin lost his tooth, even with the added aide of a mouthguard.

Leinster’s 22-17 win over Exeter on Saturday in Dublin was a bruising affair and it’s no real surprise that Ringrose hailed the match as one of the toughest games he’s been involved in.

The 22-year-old strolled into the press room at the Aviva Stadium an hour after the game sporting a small shiner just beside his left eye, and he wore the face of man that looked like he had just run the ball 14 times but the smile of a player delighted with his side’s result.

“That was one of the tougher games I’ve been involved in,” said Ringrose.

“They are such a quality side. We knew that going into it but they even proved it, certainly at the start of the game, and right throughout so there’ll be a few sore bodies tomorrow no doubt.”

For the second consecutive week, Leinster managed to contain a side that was averaging 29 points a game before last weekend.

The hosts look like they could have been facing a potential rout after the half hour mark with Scott Fardy in the bin (for pulling down an Exeter maul) and the Chiefs up 17-3 on the scoreboard.

Leinster ultimately rallied and Ringrose highlighted last season’s Champions Cup collapse against Clermont as a learning point for the side in terms of how to deal with on-field adversity.

“It was brilliant for us the fact that Isa [Nacewa] showed such composure in his kicks at goal,” added Ringrose.

“It was really good for the group and we’ve tried to learn from scenarios like say Clermont last year, when we’ve been behind.

“But if we trust each other on the pitch, trust the system, trust what we’ve done in training, hopefully we can get the result in the end.

“When you’ve guys like Isa among the team leading us, he kind of raises the intensity while bringing that calmness and trust among each other.”

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen also praised Nacewa’s leadership and laughed at the notion that the Fijian international nearly retired from the game five years ago.

“He’s a remarkable individual Isa,” said Cullen.

“To think he retired from the game [nearly] five years ago it’s pretty special what the guy is able to do. Step up, kick the goals, lead the team, he’s pretty much doing it all.

“Off the back of a six day turnaround, he’s just had surgery as well, pretty incredible effort from him.”