I totally get that not everyone is into sports. What I don't get is why you would take the time to actually go to a sporting fixture without staying to the very end.
Yet there it was yet again at the RDS on Friday night. When there was as much as ten minutes left on the clock, people started making their way towards the exits. This baffles me every time, but even more so when the scores are deadlocked as they were.
I'm not just talking one or two people either, yet annoying as it is to see, at least there was some consolation for those of us who stayed in that they missed the pivotal moment of the match right at the end.
The exodus wasn't the only thing that happened before full-time that perhaps shouldn't have. For every Pro12 contest there is a “Man of the Match” award but clearly one of our national banks isn't happy with merely having its name on the Leinster jersey as well as all over the RDS hoardings – they'd also like their name called out over the loudspeaker towards the end of every match, whether or not the entire crowd is there to hear it!
Thus we also have The Bank Of Ireland Most Valuable Player Award, and for this match it was awarded to Devin Toner around the 75-minute mark. Now I reckon the big lad is having a good season, not enough to get him ahead of Donnacha Ryan in the Irish pecking order, but still good.
But since Leinster's main problem in the first half, and in turn the reason this game remained so close, was an inability to turn trips to the Scarlet 22 into points on the scoreboard, the fact that Toner had one glaring knockon plus a ball lost in contact towards halftime, surely should have put him out of the running.
And as it happened the “official” man-of-the-match was Leinster skipper on the night Kevin McLaughlin. It's true, he made some telling contributions throughout including a key turnover or two, but even in his case I'd wonder was it right to go for tries rather than points on the board early on with kickable penalties, plus the glaring (yet admittedly rare) gap in our defence which led to Daniel Newton's try stands to him in part. Though he had just made a tackle he still raised his hand declaring himself “pillar” of the next ruck even though (a) his back was turned towards the opposition and (b) there was clearly nobody guarding the crucial centre area, a fact the experienced Fijian World Cup captain Deacon Manu exploited to the full.
Maybe I'm being hard on Messrs Toner & McLaughlin especially as both featured in the buildup to the Leinster try right at the very start of the second half, but then again, such must be the standards at a club that's been so succesful of late.
For me, when you're talking about a teams most “valuable” player, you're talking about the one without whom you wouldn't have won. And while it doesn't always follow in rugby that the player who scores the actual points fits this bill, it certainly does in this case.
And whatever about the attacking momentum Leinster had when he received the ball, Fergus McFadden certainly had a lot of work to do to get over the line from where he was, yet with a shuffle of the feet and a determined drive to the line he gave his side the a second-half start that was reminiscent of last May in Cardiff.
But though his contribution there was important it was nothing compared to what happened at the end of the match while so many fans were shuffling down the Simmonscourt and Anglesea Roads.
Though going into the contest McFadden led the Pro12 in place-kicking with a 95% record, he had already missed a couple on the night and was by no means guaranteed making the penalty awarded by Nigel Owens on 79:41 for his pet peeve all night, playing the ball off your feet, with sub Scarlet prop Phil John the culprit this time.
So he had it all to do yet he made no alteration to his routine and stroked it clean over the bar to keep his side's impressive winning streak in the competition going. That, for me, was value for money.
Overall as a contest it wasn't exactly the most exciting one ever seen in Ballsbridge – as I have already said Leinster couldn't get things going with the ball in the first half though the Scarlets came to defend and for the most part made a good job of it – they certainly would have been delighted with the draw.
Players like Ian Madigan and even Isa Nacewa were quiet by their own recent standards. Leo Auva'a was his usual rampaging self when he came on at halftime and as for the scrum-half position it wasn't so much that Reddan had a bad outing, it just wasn't his style of game. What was needed was a 9 who was willing to steal yards off the fringes and Eoin didn't start really doing that until he spotted Boss on the sideline ready to come on at the 60-minute mark. I have a feeling if Isaac had started we could have gotten more on the board in the first half.
But that's enough of my nit-picking! If I'm not careful you'll stop reading this post before I get to the end!
Perhaps it wasn't perfect but when all was said and done Leinster got the win and with the Ospreys failing to get themselves a bonus point at home to Aironi, we maintain that impressive ten-point cushion at the top of the table.
With so many away matches left on the schedule for Joe Schmidt's men, including trips to both Thomond Park and Ravenhill, we might well find ourselves in May looking back and appreciating just how valuable Fergus' contribution really was. JLP
ALSO IN THIS ROUND
Cardiff Blues 21-14 Ulster
Ospreys 23-7 Aironi
Treviso 14-35 Munster
Dragons 21-10 Edinburgh
Connacht 13-13 Glasgow