Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton said Sean Maitland's try in the final play of the first half represented a major turning point in today's Heineken Champions Cup final in St James's Park. 

The reigning champions were leading 10-3 but passed up the chance to boot the ball into touch with the clock past 40 minutes, ultimately conceding a penalty from which Saracens created an equalising score. 

Sexton defended the decision to pursue another score before half-time, and said any recrimination was based on hindsight, though he acknowledged it was a critical moment in the game. 

"Obviously, just before half-time is a big turning point," he told RTÉ Sport after the game. 

"I don't blame the decision and what we did. It's all outcome based and it's all in hindsight.  

"We're thinking attack them, put the ball on Billy, win it, get a penalty and go in with a two score lead. We concede a penalty and we're 10-10 at half-time. Huge moment.

"But we bounced back really well, we had lots of periods of pressure on them and we didn't take them. We threw some 50:50 passes in their 22 and we're normally really ruthless there and that cost us. They took their chances. 

"It's the end of that first period, start of that second period where the game swung. We just have to look at how we can do things better. 

"It's going to very small margins. One stick of a pass in their 22 and it could have been very different (outcome). We're one metre out from there line and we go to shift it and we don't quite get the offload and it's a massive turning point in the game."

Leinster still have the opportunity of silverware this season with a Pro 14 semi-final against Munster fast approaching next weekend. 

Sexton admitted it would be a different feeling, entering into a domestic semi-final, having just lost a European Cup decider but stressed the desire to repay their fans' loyalty. 

"It's going to be a different sort of feeling to last year. We went into that Munster game (in 2018) on a high. We probably didn't do what was right in terms of our preparation on the Sunday (last year) and some on the Monday but that's not going to be an issue this year. We have to recover from this.

"And we've got to bounce back in the RDS in front of our home supporters. A lot of them are here today and we're gutted for them. They turned out in force and I think we did them proud. It's small margins in this competition."