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Exeter fell agonisingly short on their Heineken Cup debut, losing 9-6 in Dublin to defending champions Leinster and Jonathan Sexton's three penalty kicks.
Sexton missed his first penalty kick at goal for the 2009, 2011 and 2012 winners in the swirling wind but soon rectified the mistake by slotting his second attempt.
Exeter's Ulsterman Gareth Steenson did likewise in missing his first chance of levelling the scores, he also missed penalty No 2 but his third, just before half-time at a packed RDS, tied the game at 3-3.
Sexton stroked his second successful kick soon after the restart and it looked like the Irish kingpins would drive home the advantage.
But it was the never-say-die Chiefs, led by Irishman Tom Hayes, who were displaying the most threat and attacking verve and when Steenson scored his second penalty of the match a massive shock looked achievable.
Sexton won an enthralling cup-tie though, after replacement prop Ben Moon's moment of offside madness gifted the Ireland No 10 his match-winning three-pointer, with eight minutes to go.
Leinster blindside Kevin McLaughlin was then penalised for not rolling away from at a ruck to give the Premiership side a sniff of a draw but, with Steenson off, Argentina replacement Ignacio Mieres was wayward from 48 metres with the last kick of the game.The relief around the RDS was palpable. With Clermont and Scarlets also in Pool 5, the champions desperately needed to hang on for four points from this game.
Exeter's consolation is a bonus point and confirmation after their excellent two seasons in the Premiership that they really do belong at the game's top table.Heineken Cup. Click here to bet.
|Saturday 18th May|
|17:00||Clermont Auvergne vs Toulon|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stuart Barnes with skysports.com