This seems to be a pattern for me this season, bitching about a performance in which a team I support won a game. Sadly, it is once again necessary.
Yes, yes, of COURSE I’m happy Les Bleus won this match. And seeing as how they had gone the last few encounters without crossing their opponent’s line at all, then yes, yes, of COURSE I’m happy they were able to do it in this match.
But let’s have some perspective here. Leinster are the Magners League champions. They have the biggest season-ticket uptake in the competition. They are expected to play like they want to win it all. And considering this is a Six Nations off-week, having names like Dempsey, Horgan, d’Arcy, Contepomi and Elsom to call on surely gives you an edge over your competition.
The moment that sticks in my craw about this contest came in the 62nd minute. We had just scored our third try which virtually put the result beyond doubt, and we were awarded a penalty just inside the Scarlets’ half.
Sure, the infringement was dead centre and thus well within Contepomi’s kicking range.
But wasn’t that a perfect opportunity to make a statement to the incredibly vocal travelling Leinster supporters at Pairc y Scarlets that their heroes had every intention of leaving with the bonus point?
Instead, they played the percentages, took the three-pointer and killed the momentum the try had afforded them. If anything, it took the home side off the back foot and had them chasing their own bonus point, even though they weren’t quite good enough to do so.
And once again, the clock ran down to zero and what could have been a five point haul was only a four, and what happens in the next couple of hours? Our friends down south run in four tries themselves to pull even further away from us in the table.
OK – I’ve made my point about the negative…here’s some things I liked, and to start I’m going to say four words you would probably be surprised to see on my blog.
WELL DONE JONNY SEXTON.
His offload to Jennings for the third Leinster try could quite possibly be included in a poll for Pass of the Season, since he slipped it to the flanker with a couple of opponents in the way.
I was also impressed with this rookie scrum half O’Donoghue…the occasion didn’t seem to phase him at all and to be perfectly honest, we didn’t miss Whittaker one iota on the night.
And what a try our opener was. Will you ever see such impressive end-to-end passing rugby. And as for Nacewa’s little feint to dive which deceived the defender and allowed him to score under the posts…I wonder if ANY coach in the northern hemisphere would advise their backs to try that?
I hope I haven’t come across as too much of a kill-joy with this post, but the fact is, I set high standards for the Leinster squad for this season and I write this blog to illustrate how close I feel they come to meeting them. Over in Wales yesterday evening, they came close but no cigar.