Not often does one picture perfectly sum up how a sporting contest went, so take in the one above from rte.ie because it does just that.
In it you see one of the Ospreys’ several Lions on display, James Hook, trying to break through the Leinster line, only to be thwarted by Messrs D’Arcy & Jennings.
One thing you don’t see in the picture is bums on seats in the stadium. And this was taken before the home “faithful” headed towards the exit with their team only seven points down and plenty of time to score a try.
This performance by the Welsh region, who don’t forget have won this league twice not to mention the Anglo-Welsh Cup once in the past, was so poor, so one-dimensional, that I had to check the internet afterwards to make sure Eddie O’Sullivan hadn’t been drafted onto their coaching staff.
In fact it can safely be said that if Leinster had made even half the mistakes they did on the night (eg Sexton, O’Kelly knockons, Kearney offside ahead of the kicker to name but a few) then I’d be reporting on a cricket score right now and we’d have come away from the Liberty Stadium with a bonus point victory no question.
But I’m not writing this post to rue missed chances. I’d have taken your arm off if you had offered me this scoreline before kickoff in Swansea, so overall I’m more than happy.
Setanta’s so-called “experts” gave the man-of-the-match award to Sexton, but this was an extremely lazy decision if you ask me. Sure, he nailed five kicks, some of them from tough angles and all of them under pressure from the very low yet very unsportingly vocal Osprey crowd.
The TV panel also decried our taking of a drop goal when we did. Were they not watching the same match as I was? We'd been on their line several times to no avail - and that was the one time we needed points on the board. Nacewa was absolutely spot-on in both decision and execution in my book.
But the key to this victory was defence. There wasn’t a single point racked up by the home side that we didn’t gift them, and when we focused on getting men behind the ball, it was the first time this season I was reminded of the stingy defensive Leinster which did so well towards the end of the last one.
In case you don’t recall I call it “The Gandalf defence” as it sends out the clear message : “You shall not pass!!!”
It appears that despite the conspicuous absence of Elsom and Heaslip, we had a 6,7,8 combo on the field who were more than capable of competing in this league’s standard and higher, and it would be from here that I’d take our man-of-the-match, with perhaps Jennings getting the nod even if there were question marks over his captaincy towards the end.
It got to the stage where although I was afraid to say it out loud for fear of cursing the lads, with fifteen minutes to go I was pretty much certain there was no way they were crossing our line.
And considering they finished up with such names as Wyn-Jones, Phillips, Byrne and Williams on the park, all we Leinster fans can hope for is that our own stars aren’t as slow kicking off their season when they (surely!!!) return to the side for the big clash with 100% Edinburgh next weekend.
Meanwhile, having seen similar swathes of empty seats at the Dragons and Scarlets this season, it has to be said something is seriously wrong with Welsh rugby right now. JLP