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Friday, January 07, 2011

Leinster-15 Ospreys-10

THE BIGGAR THEY COME…
 
Time has a meaning of its own down the OarDeeEsh.
 
The stadium clock may count up, it may count down. It may even stand still while a match is progressing. The players may sometimes be fooled by the swirling wind that the half-time whistle has blown when in fact it hasn’t.
 
But last night, when the announcer declared the final score before Nigel Owens had actually blown the full-time whistle, it was more out of a relief that was shared by the 14,876 soaking wet home fans.
 
And it wasn’t just the rain that led to the relief. It was the fact that not for the first time, we had won in Ballsbridge mostly thanks to the ineptitude of the opposing placekicker.
 
If Saracens want to know how to beat us next Saturday, their best bet would be to watch not only DVDs of last May’s Magners League Grand Final, but also Friday night’s rematch. The Ospreys may have left many of their leading lights at home, but they showed that they have their own answers to our Fergus McFaddens and Kevin McLaughlins waiting in the wings, and their efforts in denying us even a single try deserved more than a mere losing bonus point.
 
Their own try was a tad fortunate, coming as it did from a way-too-telegraphed box kick from Eoin Reddan which was easily blocked and could’ve gone anywhere, but it was fitting that young 1st time skipper Jason Tipuric got the touchdown as he led the line well on the night.
 
But sadly for the visitors, the conversion which followed from Dan Biggar on 17 minutes was to be their last time troubling the scorekeeper. And BOY did he miss some clangers, not least of which was one from directly under the posts. Sure, the ball may have dipped just before he struck it, but that’s still on him for how he placed it. And the multiple further misses that followed only made matters worse.
 
Luckily our own Jonny 10 only missed the one on the night and fifteen points was enough to mark the 50th match at the “Royal Showgrounds” in style.
 
I wouldn’t say the Leinster display was particularly “bad”, it just didn’t match the quality lineup we put on the park. If I had to single someone out it for negative mention it would be Devin Toner…there seemed to be a policy to get him more of the ball in the loose and I didn’t feel like he attacked the ball with as much aggression as he could have done, and though that will surely come in time, I think we’ll all be a lot happier with Nathan Hines starting next Saturday lunchtime.
 
And as for the back three, Luke’s able return definitely gives coach Schmidt a selection headache as surely he must bring Isa back into the starting XV, and neither Shaggy nor McFadden did anything to warrant exclusion either.
 
Jamie picked up a knock right in front of where we were sitting so will be a worry over the next few days…he got up and bravely played on when he noticed the TG4 cameraman was almost literally in his face, but he came off shortly afterwards and hopefully his later tweet of “Ouch” was more tongue in cheek than anything and he’ll have enough time to recover.
 
All in all it was four fortunate Magners League points for Leinster, but we’ll take ‘em as they further cement our top four status, and now the lads can knuckle down and prepare to face a Saracens side which will no doubt be every bit as motivated as the Ospreys’ next generation were.
 
Let’s hope we have what it takes to make their Heineken Cup clock run down to zero.
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