[Update February 12, 2014 : With the Dragons coming to the RDS this Friday, our latest trip into the HoR archives looks back to our first writeup involving the region. This was of course pre-Grand Slam, pre-Heineken Cup victories, pre-Joe Schmidt, and as you can see, pre-my having faith in Johnny Sexton!!!]
For the second week running, a rugby team I support won by a scoreline that flatters to deceive.
First of all, the match itself was a perfect example of why I refer to this competition as the “Meaningless League”.
How are we supposed to take these matches seriously when they are played on the same weekend as crucial internationals? Especially as Ireland AREN’T playing, and their provinces are free to field full strength fifteens?
And so, as I was shivering my twig and berries off, I sat in Section F of the RDS stand and watched the boys in Blue, complete with the likes of O’Driscoll, Dempsey and Horgan, beat the weakest Welsh franchise yet failed to take the bonus point.
Yes, the failure to get the bonus point DOES bother me. Why? Because despite the freezing weather over 15,000 fans showed up on the night, and when we were awarded a penalty at the 22 with over ten minutes remaining, Leinster chose to kick for goal (and miss…) rather than at least display an interest in going the extra mile, and quite frankly, I wasn’t impressed.
Not that there weren’t some highlights on the night. Clearly in man-of-the-match Sean O’Brien and Fergus McFadden we have even more strong players coming through the ranks.
But I’m sure anyone who has read this blog before now won’t be surprised that I still don’t think Jonathan Sexton can cut it at this level, at least not yet.
Look at the facts yet again – for most of the time he was on the pitch, Leinster were losing. Even on our opening try, his pass which sent O’Brien clear looked to be a bit suspect forward.
It seems as though Sexton has his mind made up what he’s going to do even before his scrum half handles the ball, and does it regardless of what transpires as the ball is coming towards him.
All night the Dragons played with a backline flatter than a pancake, and only once do I remember a Leinster back try to exploit the space behind them and that was McFadden.
We continuously tried to run the ball through their strong defence and he didn’t seem to cop on it wasn’t working.
And as if to top it all, we have yet another shoulder injury to Brian O'Driscoll, and hopefully he will recover quickly. Naturally it could be argued that he should have been rested with the Heineken Cup on the horizon, but I for one applaud him and Leinster rugby for at least rewarding the spectators with his presence on the park.
I sincerely hope Cheika chooses to start with David Holwell next weekend as the big boy’s tournament cranks up for another fortnight. JLP