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It's the most winderful time of the year; RUGBY UNION CHAMPIONS CUP LEINSTER v EXETER CHIEFS POOL 3, AVIVA STADIUM 3.15PM ISA LOVES STYLE BUT POINTS WILL BE BEST PRESENT.

Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY

BY MICHAEL SCULLY ISA NACEWA insists style doesn't really matter at the Aviva Stadium today - just the points on offer.

The hugely experienced Leinster captain is confident his team will not get hung up on putting on a show for over 40,000 home supporters as the Blues return to Lansdowne Road in their final game before Christmas.

theiA vv After last week's important victory at Sandy Park, more vital Champions Cup points are up for grabs against Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs and that is the sole focus for Nacewa. "Winning is the priority but in fairness we do like to play at E so W the Aviva," acknowledged the 35-year-old.

"We know the fans turn up to enjoy good rugby, it's definitely a place we like to impose our game.

"But winning definitely comes first - and whatever it looks like, it looks like.

"Fingers crossed the conditions stay nice, it's fresh and cold, the Aviva looks like a hard track. It's a good track to run on.

"The game is huge. These back-to-back fixtures are always unique. It's always an enjoyable time of the year.

"We try to get better week in and week out. There are definitely areas we can improve upon from last week.

"We're just going to try and be better. We look forward to playing in front of our home fans at this time of the year and hope there's 40,000-plus at the Aviva.

"It's a special place for us but we have our minds on the job. We need to."

Leinster took satisfaction from showing they could roll the sleeves up last Sunday to secure a hard-fought win at a ground that had become a fortress to their opponents.

The ability to play a pickand-go game to unlock the Chiefs' defence was crucial for the province.

"Where do I rank it? Winning away at Exeter in 2013 was a big challenge and that's up there with this," pointed out Nacewa.

"It's a big mental challenge, turning around so quickly, while having a long lead-in last weekend was a huge mental challenge in itself. And then after the win and the away game it is about getting the body right, turning the page quickly.

"It's a mental challenge to recover well, get back on the horse and go again.

"The quicker we do that the better. It's been a good week.

The extra night away gave people a few extra hours sleep, we enjoyed each other's company.

"Then we got back to Dublin and started grinding again."

Head coach Leo Cullen (left) wants more of the same from his players as Leinster try to take full control of their pool with final games against Montpellier and Glasgow still to come. "We wouldn't gone out with the intention play we did, that's the way the game unfolds sometimes," said Cullen.

"You end up in front and you are trying to keep your nose in front by managing possession. We have a fast track and Exeter will try to play - we need to be ready for whatever way they play.

"They're very powerful as well. The set-piece battle is very important. There were a couple of big moments last week. Exeter haven't altered their plan drastically over the last couple of seasons, they just got better and better at doing it - and teams struggle to stop it."

LEINSTER: R Kearney; F McFadden, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, I Nacewa (c); J Sexton, L McGrath; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Toner, S Fardy, S O'Brien, J van der Flier, J Conan.

EXETER CHIEFS: L Turner; J Nowell, H Slade, I Whitten, O Woodburn; G Steenson (capt), N White; B Moon, L Cowan-Dickie, T Francis, M Lees, S Skinner, D Armand, M Kvesic, S Simmonds.

Pl W D L F A BPPTS Leinster..............3 3 0 0 76 43 2 14 Exeter.................3 2 0 1 59 57 0 8 Montpellier.........3 1 0 2 70 73 4 8 Glasgow..............3 0 0 3 55 87 1 1 POOL 3 TABLE

CAPTION(S):

SKY'S THE LIMIT Leinster captain on to a high ball yesterday Isa Nacewa hangs during runout

PAT'S THE WAY McCloskey is congratulated by team-mate Alan O'Connor

FIRST OF MANY Stuart McCloskey gets it all going with opening Ulster try last night

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 16, 2017
Words:729
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