Leinster got the game’s only two actual touchdowns, overall we played the better rugby, but you just can’t give up 19 points of penalties in Swansea and expect a good result.
We even had over twenty minutes at the end to get back into it during which time the Welsh outfit played more like a visiting team clinging on for a win, but sadly it was infringements from our own more senior players (Leo & Jennings both holding on after the tackle & Shaggy forward pass) which held us back.
And having just thrown away an attacking lineout and been awarded a penalty of our own not far outside the Osprey 22, although it was the conventional option to kick for extra territory, I thought we had shown plenty of ability to gain ground across the 80 minutes to avoid risking another poor Harris-Wright dart and go for the scrum to pummel the opposition line to the final whistle.
But it wasn’t to be and I suppose to come out of a such a ridiculously-scheduled fixture with an away bonus point and two tries thanks to Isa magic can be considered a silver lining.
The first was the perfect case of making something out of nothing. Up the point when he was tragically stretchered off Andrew Conway had continued to show he has star quality for the future and it was his line break which got us down into their 22. A series of phases which included a very dodgy reverse pass from Boss was rescued by Nacewa’s improbable lob over his own shoulder for Conway to swivel and touch down.
Then in the second half it was Ian Madigan’s turn to impress with a line break and after some phases our super full back chipped a ball through which he was able to scoop up himself, after Conway over-ran it, to touch down in a fashion very similar to BODs score against the All Blacks the week before.
That gave us a 15-12 lead, and normally you could count on the Leinster defence to bring that scoreline home but a combination of senseless penalties and a bizarre series of events led to what turned out to be the final score of the evening.
Ed O’Donoghue got sent to the bin on 56 minutes. But I contend Jon Lacey only did so in an attempt for consistency having yellowed Duncan Jones for a similar offence early in the first half, that being deliberately lying down on the ball in the ruck. Both were extremely harsh calls if you ask me.
Then the resulting penalty & phases led to a spear-tackle by Jason Harris-Wright. Now HE should have gone to the bin, but Lacey seemed to bottle it by claiming not to have seen his number. So he stayed on the park and the next kick to touch put the Ospreys on our line, the only time they really had the chance to exert such pressure all day.
Now normally, the referee lets a goal-line defence commit one foul and issues a warning before whipping out the card. And since we were already down one man, many officials may have even given us a second chance. But since Lacey had just told Leo Cullen he would card the next transgression, when Ian Madigan fooled around with ruck ball on the deck, he had to go.
After all that, with a scrum on our line and two men down, a try was inevitable. By the way – even as a Leinster fan, I have no complaints about the penalty try itself, or indeed Madigan’s card. That’s how those sequences are meant to go, and it’s just a shame the refs in the Wales v South Africa and Ireland v New Zealand matches didn’t do likewise under similar conditions.
Overall we couldn’t use the ball when we had it, and on top of that we added to our injury count from the Ireland squad - poor Andrew Conway will probably miss out on a chance to fill the void.
And though there were some impressive showings from the youngsters like O’Malley and Madigan, I continue to be worried about Jason Harris-Wright. Not his fault like I said last week, Fogarty’s retirement has thrust him into to the fore ahead of schedule, but if we suffer an injury to Richardt Strauss any time soon I fear our chances of silverware will suffer too.
Doesn’t bode well for our chances in Llanelli next week. I have a feeling the Scarlets will feature a lot more returning internationals than we will, and it will take an extraordinary effort to come out on top.
PS. Pionós is Irish for “Penalties”…Once more, I have to ask: of the three, count em THREE radio stations, NewsTalk, Spin 103.8 & 98FM that are happy to appear on the Leinster rugby site’s sponsor page, could ONE of them manage to provide commentary of our matches? Nothing against the Gaeilge on TG4 but to have an English-language option would be nice - Munster radio seem to manage it courtesy of Limerick Live95, Connacht manage it courtesy of GalwayBay FM, why can’t we??? If they’re looking for a commentator I’ll do it for a reasonable rate!