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'As good at 36 as he's ever been': Ireland's star ominous form has rivals on notice

By Sam Smith
Leinster are a side to admire but they are beatable in the URC (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Leinster’s 64-7 beating of Bath at the Rec highlighted the stark differences between the two sides for the second time this season, as the Irish club ran riot running in 10 tries.

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Of the many standout performances, flyhalf Johnny Sexton was exemplary in a world class display that would have put Ireland’s Six Nations rivals on notice ahead of next month’s opener.

Sexton had a hand in many Leinster tries as he orchestrated proceedings with precision with Leinster’s attack firing on all cylinders.

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The first try to wing Jimmy O’Brien in the 15th minute saw Sexton provide a pinpoint wide pass to fullback Hugo Keenan whose quick hands found the free man.

Sexton and Keenan combined again to put right wing Jordan Larmour into a half gap that the 24-year-old took 40-metres to score Leinster’s third of the day under the posts.

After a Robbie Henshaw break into Bath’s 22, Sexton threaded a well-placed grubber kick into the lap of O’Brien for his second try before the halftime break. INto injury time, he laid on another try with a short ball to Ciaran Frawley from short range.

O’Brien had his third after a piece of quick thinking from Sexton, who used a penalty tap to put a cross-field kick in.

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Sexton’s day out had fans praising the 36-year-old as being ‘as good as he’s ever been’, and ‘by far’ the best 10 in Ireland. Ireland’s strategy of managing Sexton’s playing time over the last few years seems to be working to extend his career.

Irish TV pundit Matt Williams had been a skeptic thinking Sexton’s career was at the end over 12 months ago, however said he was ‘very happy’ to eat his words on RTE’s post-match coverage.

“Yes, and I’m very happy to eat my words. He has been superb,” Williams told the panel.

“Just after the 2019 season, after the World Cup, I thought ‘ok, with his age, father time has caught him, like it catches us all’ and Mea Culpa! I’m wrong.

“He has been absolutely brilliant for a guy his age, to keep doing what he is doing, he made some line breaks today, to have the courage to take the ball to the line, knowing you are going to get snotted as you put the ball out.

“He’s extraordinary.”

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