Racing 92 co-head coach Laurent Labit believes his side’s 40-minute powerplay that destroyed Munster’s European dream will not be good enough to defeat Champions Cup final opponents Leinster in Bilbao in three weeks.
Europe’s two best sides are on a collision course after comprehensive semi-final performances to see off quality opposition, Leinster swatting aside Scarlets at Aviva Stadium on Saturday before Racing put Munster to the sword with three tries in the first 21 minutes in Bordeaux yesterday.
“Of course we’re proud, we’re very proud,” said Labit, who shares the head coaching duties with Laurent Travers. “When you’re a coach you look at the match and after 40 minutes it was like a piece of cake that we had prepared.
“We had 40 minutes of very high-level rugby where we played as we had decided. We had a strong start and blocked Munster’s mindset, the forwards and the collision game.
“What we needed was to keep the ball and we scored three tries, all three in situations we had planned and identified. It was a great 40 minutes at that level. We want to win a title and we saw Leinster yesterday, so we will have to do the same for 80 minutes against Leinster, because 40 won’t be enough.”
Labit, whose team lost its first European final to Saracens in Lyon in 2016, will be coming face to face once more with his former fly-half Johnny Sexton, who steered Leinster to 38-16 victory on Saturday.
“Of course, it’s going to be a great challenge. We saw it two years ago against Saracens, you don’t get the European title by chance. We have to do something exceptional to win it. Leinster will be a formidable opponent, they have three-quarters of the Irish team.
"We know Johnny Sexton well, we know him very well. Leinster are very powerful and physical but they always have different ways to win games. They love to create with the way they play but we showed today that we also have force and we can set up our game.
“We did great in the first half in terms of strategy and the attacking game. We will have to do more if we want to be European champions.
“We saw the last 20 minutes were rough and it will be difficult because it will be 80 minutes at that level. We will have to be more coherent as a team. The maturity has grown and we know what a final is all about. We lost to Saracens but we know now.”
With Leinster having already qualified for the PRO14 semi-finals as winners of Conference B, Leo Cullen’s side have to play just one game before heading to Bilbao in three weeks, next weekend’s final league game against Connacht in Galway.
Racing, meanwhile, must return to Bordeaux next week to resume their push for the Top14 play-offs and then play Agen seven days later.
“It’s a huge challenge and now for us as coaches, we’ve got two competitions to deal with,” Labit said. “We have the Top 14 and now the final in the Champions Cup in three weeks. We will have to manage the squad because they’re bruising matches. Every player is important, we used 23 players today.
They will have an opportunity in the next games. We have to prepare for the final league game against Agen. It’s difficult but it is an exciting challenge too.”
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