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James Lowe's frank admission after Champions Cup close shave

By PA
James Lowe of Leinster celebrates after scoring his side's first try during the Investec Champions Cup semi-final match between Leinster and Northampton Saints at Croke Park in Dublin. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

James Lowe admitted Leinster had gone close to suffering an almighty upset after reaching the Investec Champions Cup final with a 20-17 victory over Northampton at Croke Park.

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Lowe ran in a hat-trick of tries to help the four-time European champions into a 20-3 lead but Saints finally shook off the stage fright that had afflicted them for the first hour to touch down through George Hendy and Tom Seabrook.

Leinster clung on to book a place in the final where they will face either Toulouse or Harlequins, leaving Northampton to reflect on what might have been had they shown greater belief right from the start.

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Sharks coach John Plumtree gives his view of a nailbiting one-point win over Clermont Auvergne in a Challenge Cup semifinal

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Sharks coach John Plumtree gives his view of a nailbiting one-point win over Clermont Auvergne in a Challenge Cup semifinal

“Something almost horrific happened!” Ireland wing Lowe told TNT Sports.

“We were able to build a score but we know Northampton are a amazing attacking side and we gave them too many opportunities.

“I don’t think we kicked well, me personally anyway, and we let their boys run riot. Credit to them, they pushed us until the end and we were pretty fortunate.

“It’s such a special place Croke Park, the history that comes along with it is second to none and there’s not another stadium like it in the world.

“To be given the opportunity and privilege to play a club match here… we put in a performance we’re happy with but there are things we have got to tidy up if we want to go the whole way in this competition.

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“But we’ll kick on and we’ve not got a final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium!

“I’m looking forward to a pint, I’m not going to lie. We worked bloody hard to get ourselves into the driving seat and hopefully we’ll do better in the final than we have done in the last couple of years.”

Northampton boss Phil Down was disappointed that Saints were unable to give the best account of themselves amid a high error count.

“I’m incredibly proud of the effort the lads put in, especially in defence. There’s frustration that we went close despite making so many mistakes,” Dowson said.

“Fair play, Leinster are a good side and we pushed them close. We were way better in the second half and that was reflected on the scoreboard.”

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