This season on HarpinOnRugby we’ll be featuring input from fans all over the world on all aspects of the great pastime of chasing the egg…for the most part, their contributions will be on the HoR2 blog while I will deal with Leinster & Ireland rugby over here. This week, however, I am extremely grateful to both Liz & Ginine Power for volunteering to be my eyes & ears at Leinster’s final pre-season warm-up game last Friday evening.
“We didn’t want you to lose your first game in the new stadium but we couldn’t let you win either”
This was my post match banter with some of the Sale fans. Ok, so it was only half true. After the hefty defeat last week (I promise that’s the last time I will mention it) losing was not an option but new stadium or not, Leinster were there to win..
The new Sale stadium is very impressive both from the outside and inside. The stands are all covered which was very welcome as the rain was pouring down. We took our place among the good number of Leinster fans who made the trip over for a pre-season friendly. During the match we made our presence well know with choruses of the usual tunes although “Come on you boys in blue” was stopped quite promptly as we realised on this occasion Sale were the boys in blue.
Sale were first to put points on the board with a penalty scored by Danny Cipriani in the first 10 minutes. We were all a little confused though when the scoreboard declared it a “goal”.
Leinster were quick to get back in the game though with Noel Reid kicking the ball deep into Sale’s 22. Leinster proceeded to win the lineout and impressive play from Reid and Ian Madigan fell just short of getting them the first try of the game. Their efforts were awarded with a penalty which Noel Reid easily kicked over to get Leinster our first “goal” and bring the score to 3-3.
With the scores even, Leinster came into their stride. Leinster were awarded another penalty which Ian Madigan kicked into touch but the ball was soon turned over and the game was back in Leinster’s 22. It wasn’t there for long though as an impressive run from Fionn Carr brought it back into the Sale 22. Leinster were then awarded another penalty but this time Reid’s kick fell wide of the posts.
With the rain still pouring down heavily the first half ended with the honours even at 3-3.
It wasn’t long into the second half before Andrew Conway scored the first try of the game on the other side of the pitch to the pocket of Leinster fans. Unfortunately we did get to see a close up of Rob Miller’s try for Sale about 20 minutes later. Nick McLeod kicked the conversion and the game was once again level at 10-10. About 2 minutes later Sale were awarded a penalty which could have won them the game but McLeod's kick fell wide.
Both teams fought hard for the remainder of the game but the score remained at 10-10 although some would argue the score could have been a lot different but for a few controversial refereeing decisions. In who’s favour the game would have gone though is anyone’s guess as was stated by a nearby fan “David Pearson is an equal opportunities gobdaw”!
A lot of high tackles and players off their feet went unnoticed as well as the touch judges awarding line outs to the wrong team. The hecklers were out in force with shouts of “Yes, that is what your right hand is for” when a penalty was finally awarded Leinster’s way and “You’re not in Paris now” when it wasn’t. Andy Powell also got some thrown his way and was told to “get in your golf cart” on more than one occasion.
Both teams provided brilliant performances and I think a draw was a fair result. It was a great game and it’s good to go into the season recovered from last week’s defeat (oops, sorry)
Ginine (@neenyp) and Liz Power (@gizmopuddy) are daughter and mother, Leinster fans from Maynooth. Unusually it is the two women in our family who are the sport and particularly rugby fanatics; the men just humour our obsession. Liz grew up in Churchtown, surrounded by rugby, and didn’t realise there was any other sport until she moved to the “country”! She made sure Ginine was well acquainted with the joys of rugby.