The Irish international landed a 45m penalty two minutes from time to secure a 19-16 win on Saturday night for Racing Metro in a bad-tempered affair which saw Montpellier hooker Charles Geli red-carded on the stroke of half-time after another brawl.
Sexton, constantly targeted for late hits, kept his nerve throughout and landed all four of his kicks, in contrast to a Montpellier side who fluffed four from eight, with France international Francois Trinh-Duc the biggest culprit.
Sexton levelled the match seven minutes from time with a penalty from 25m and was then relieved to see the winner clear the crossbar from just inside halfway to seal an invaluable win.
“I had obviously played 78 or 79 minutes at that stage and the heart-rate was up so I was just trying to get into a routine. The wind was picking up a little bit now and again. Even though it’s quite an enclosed stadium, the corners are open so it can be quite blustery.
“I think Francois Trinh-Duc was a little unlucky with a couple of his, he hit down the middle and at the last minute the wind maybe took it. I just work my hardest all week and sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t, it’s the fickle nature of being a rugby player,” said Sexton.
The win gives the big-spending Paris side a morale boost at the outset of the campaign and Sexton, with coach Ronan O’Gara also settling into his second season at Racing, wants them to build on it.
“We needed it because we have to play Bordeaux away next week, then we’ve got Toulon at home and then we go away to Clermont.
“There our first four fixtures, three away against arguably teams that are going to finish in the top half of the table so to pick up a win away from home was fantastic but we’ve got to go again now next week. If we get a good result now next week we’re in a really good position,” added Sexton.
Elsewhere, Bernard Jackman’s tenure as Grenoble head coach got off to an encouraging start when they picked up a bonus point in a 30-26 loss away to Clermont Auvergne, where former Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes made a winning start in his new role with Joe Schmidt’s former side.
Former Connacht and Leinster lock Damien Browne suffered heartbreak in Toulouse where English international Toby Flood scored all his side’s points, including a last-minute penalty, to deny Oyonnax a famous win in a 20-19 encounter.