Sunday, September 06, 2009

Scarlets-18 Leinster-16



I think this weekend has woken Irish rugby fans to a new reality…our provinces AREN’T going to win every game they play after all.

Last season, I tended to criticise Leinster even when they had won a game so I think it’s high time I found a silver lining in a defeat, and this match gives me the perfect opportunity.

And I don’t need to “harp on” about the fact that our Lions players were missing either.

There were 3 keys to this defeat. One was the sending off of Thomas that never was. Another was Stan Wright’s inexcusable yellow card when we had a two-man advantage. Finally we had Fogarty’s dire lineout throwing in the second half.

Even with all of that, given a different rub of the green both Nacewa and Jennings would have had tries and I’d be writing about a victory and who knows even a bonus point in this column.

So how about I focus on the many positives to be taken from this display?

In the forwards, Kevin McLaughlin was clearly pumped up by wearing the Leinster number 6 jersey, and from the very first minute made you wonder if Rocky had left some his mojo behind as a parting gift.

Cian Healy seems to have toned down his disciplinary issues and was a powerhouse in the front row which surely must attract Declan Kidney’s attention.

But it was in the backline where I was most impressed.

Chris Keane barely put a foot wrong at 9, and showed that we have an embarrassment of riches there since with Reddan out I personally would have handed the start to Paul O’Donoghue.

Johnny Sexton was the man I was looking for to lead the line, and with 4 kicks outta 4, kicking in play that needs fine tuning but was stilll good and can only get better, and good aggression in the tackle, he didn’t disappoint me at all.

Shaune Berne was solid at 12, but what about Fergus McFadden alongside him? How many times did he carry the ball into a tackle only to pump his legs for another 2-3 meters? You have to ask yourself if there’s a way you can drop him when Messrs O’Driscoll and D’Arcy come back!!!

And finally Isa Nacewa was mercurial under the high ball, so much so you’d swear he had a 15 on his back.

Altogether the backs looked like they had a few early season cobwebs, but you could tell that once they’re gone they’ll raise hell for opposing defences in the weeks to come.

So as you can see, I’m not too put out by this result. We need the Magners League to be competitive, so at the start of a new season you can’t expect to go on the road for your opener and take easy points.

I didn’t see a single thing in this match that told me we won’t be more than capable of stuffing this lot in both our clashes in December.

Roll-on the RDS next Saturday!!!

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