Sean Cronin: ’We might have the favourites’ tag and a home quarter-final, but that’s no guarantee’

Sean Cronin: ’We might have the favourites’ tag and a home quarter-final, but that’s no guarantee’
Leinster’s Sean Cronin celebrates his try with Jamison Gibson-Park. Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin believes their top seeding in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals is no guarantee they will sail through the knockout stages.

The Ireland front-rower scored the decisive try to seal the 23-14 triumph over Montpellier that made it six wins from six matches in their Pool Three campaign.

The three-time European champions will therefore host one of the second-placed teams in the competition but Cronin does not think they can take success for granted.

He said: "We might have the favourites’ tag but there will be eight quality teams in the quarter-finals with past winners in there too.

"Whoever we get it will be a real challenge and that’s why it’s good to get a home quarter-final, but that’s no guarantee either. We’re looking forward to it, it will be a huge occasion."

Leinster made an ideal start when Ross Byrne touched down in the corner after a James Lowe break.

But Montpellier fought back through their powerful driving maul. First Bismarck Du Plessis was shunted over the try-line before Yacouba Camara finished off a neat move at the back of a lineout.

Leinster came out fighting at the start of the second half and built pressure thanks to a number of close-range carries around the ruck.

Leo Cullen’s men stayed patient and found Robbie Henshaw in space, who scored to put Leinster back on top.

They then gave their hosts a taste of their own medicine when Cronin crashed over at the back of a powerful maul.

Cronin added: "It was a big focus for us to get the win because we’ve struggled coming over to France in recent years.

"We wanted to prove we are moving forward as a squad and do it for the support, it was great to see the blue flags flying.

"They are a quality side and we needed to match them up front, in the scrum and in the maul. We conceded a couple of maul tries but scored one as well so it was nip and tuck. It’s hard to come here and get a result but we’re really pleased with it."

Isa Nacewa captained the side from inside centre and feels the biggest challenge lies ahead despite overcoming the French side.

He said: "The pool stages are so difficult to get out of and we set little goals that got us there.

"We’ve done our job so far but face a massive job to go even further. We’re just glad to get out of here with the win, that’s as far as we will look."

Louis Picamoles believes Montpellier came up against a formidable team.

The French back rower said: "I think we came across the best team in Europe right now. I’m proud of the team on the state of mind and commitment.

"We played a very good first period but we made too many mistakes in the second. They quickly took the advantage to score and when we had the ball, we went too quickly.

"This was one of our best games against a very strong team. Even if we hoped much better, Leinster deserved their victory."

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