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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ospreys-19 Leinster-10

[Update - April 9, 2014 : This week’s trip into the HoR archives brings us to Leinster’s last Pro12 visit to this Friday’s opponents, Those Pesky Ospreys.  With Matt O’Connor copping a lot of flak for The Toulon Tragedy, this was not only a match where I had the audacity to criticize Joe Schmidt even after 2 successive Heineken Cups, but the writeup also went on to be the most popular post in HoR history in terms of hits & pageviews.]

In Touch April
 
 
Generally speaking, there are two reasons for losing a match : either the other team was better than you, or you didn’t play the right type of game when you needed to.  It's pretty clear the latter applied at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

With the glaring exception of number 11, Leinster were man for man every bit as good as the Ospreys on the day if not better. But what summed it up for me was Leo Auva’a’s quick tap penalty in the first half. We’re away from home, against a team we’d desperately love to beat, and we have just gone into a 10-0 lead, winning a penalty at halfway. NOT the time for a quick tap. Simple, simple, simple. And with the rain teeming down, the stars on our jersey weren’t going to prevent our normal style of game from being risky to say the least. We left the door wide open for those pesky Ospreys to come back and they didn’t win four Celtic League titles without being able to stroll through it when we do.
 
There was talk on the ruggersphere of the officials. Sure, they missed calls, but even with that dodgy lineout I can’t seriously say we lost this match because of the refereeing. You can only analyse what can be controlled, and in my book there was plenty on our side that needs to come under scrutiny.

I’m probably going to get flak for doing this, but I call coach Schmidt into question. Of course I’m not looking for him to be fired or anything, before anyone gets hysterical, but one of his hallmarks has been that he lets his creative talent that’s on the park call the plays as they see it, which has gone a long way to first Sexton and now Ian Madigan coming to prominence. But there comes a time when you have to say “feck that – in this situation, I need you guys to play a straightforward territory game for the rest of the match, no exceptions.” Right up to the final whistle we hadn’t a clue what we were doing in any situation. Perhaps Shane Jennings, captain on the park, should also be in the dock for this.

There were some positives.  Dave Kearney and Madigan were very good under the high ball given the circumstances. I thought Ben Marshall acquitted himself well in tough circumstances. And both Jamie Hagan and Martin Moore put up their hands as Irish tight-heads for the future, though going on previous Hagan performances plus Moore’s inexperience at this level I wouldn’t go too far in saying they can replace Michael Bent at Carton House just yet. Isaac Boss had a good return and appeared at times to be invisible to the Ospreys.

Overall, what ailed Leinster is eminently fixable, and of course it needs to be fixed before we go to Clermont. We’ll get the perfect chance to test this mind-set when we visit Glasgow on November 24. Personally, I want to see us playing that match like it were a cup final, and as if every man in a Leinster jersey feels they have a chance to play in that Heineken Cup back-to-back series. We’ll see how the boys handle the three weeks off in between. JLP
 

[Below you see the transcript of my liveblog of the game]

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Normally I save my writeup of Leinster matches for the Monday morning, which gives me the chance to (hopefully!) enjoy the game as a fan while it's played, then watch it again with a critical eye before scribbling my opinion.

This week I want to try something different. We're playing Those Pesky Ospreys and I have the house to myself for the afternoon, so I'm going to have a go at "liveblogging" not just the match itself, but also RTE's coverage of it. I would probably be tweeting my thoughts anyway, but this time they go straight on the blog as my record of the match for posterity.

Loads to look forward to in this contest...it has to be the league's biggest rivalry between teams from different nations. Last season Leinster lost only four matches in total, three of them were to the Ospreys, two of those were by one point with a last-gasp conversion.

Also although the Leinster side is virtually unrecognizable from last week, there's plenty to watch out for...Ian Madigan's return to out-half, David Kearney slotting in at full-back with big bro out injured, Rhys Ruddock making a claim for the Heineken 6 jumper with Kevin McLoughlin in average form, Andrew Goodman being thrown in the Pro12 deep end at 12.

So on my SportsNewsIreland preview I gave this to the home side by 3 points. Will the boys in blue prove me wrong? Stay tuned to this page as I update while the match progresses (or, if you're reading it after the match is over, just read on!)...

3:40pm RTE's coverage starts bang on time, right after the National Choir Awards. Well done Methodist, Belfast, by the way. Daire O'Brian is the host, Berch and Popey are with him in the studio. Kind of was hoping Hooky would be there for me to critique, but I'll make do with these lads... Joe Schmidt's pre-match interview ends with Hugh Cahill saying "Best of luck", Joe said "yeah, we'll need a bit of it, thanks!" Doesn't bode well... Popey describes Goodman as a "Volvo rather than a Mercedes"...

KICKOFF Good start for Leinster, break & chip forward from Boss leads to Conway bundling an Osprey in to touch, setting up attacking lineout. Thought Leo & Toner made a hames of the kickoff but they got away with it. Couple of attacks for Leinster, second one ends in a penalty conceded by George Stowers. Kickable for Madigan...makes no mistake. Conor O'Shea notices it wasnt a pen. Ospreys 0-3 Leinster 3m

5m O's first possession, Leinster tackling low, force a turnover outside their own 22.

6m Boss kicks forward where there's space, Fionn Carr chases and I think the commentators are being harsh on him, he was going into touch, tried to touch it down and couldnt.

7m Ospreys make a mess of their lineout, box kick blocked by Ruddock, Leo Auva pounces on it over the line, TMO checking if it's a try? He gives it! Conversion good Ospreys 0-10 Leinster

8m Leinster by far the hungrier side so far. Rain teeming down. Simple rugby required from here on in methinks. We won a pen from the 1st scrum, but Leo Auva doesnt subscribe to the "simple rugby" idea and takes a quick tap, attack goes nowhere.

12m high ball tough for D Kearney to handle, ball out wide, Stowers bundled into touch by Ruddock 14m Ospreys pressure rewarded with a pen in front of the posts. Still think we should have gone for the lineout with that earlier pen. Ospreys 3-10 Leinster

15m Home crowd as boisterous as always at Irish ref John Lacey giving Leinster a pen at midfield! We're taking the lineout, super kick from Mads deep into O 22. Lineout is taken but strong pressure from Ospreys forces a knockon from Hagan and the resulting scrum gives Os chance to clear. Os win a pen at midfield, Morgan slips as he kicks it, but then Conway kicks out on the full handing advantage back.

20m Leinster contesting the breakdown, but Heinke VdM gives away a kickable pen. Good strike from Morgan goes over. Ospreys 6-10 Leinster

21m Damien Browne off injured, Marshall on. Leinster intent on keeping it through the forwards, Ospreys look like they'll test our full back all day.

26m Ospreys 11 Eli Walker looks useful and could sidestep a few in these conditions. We finally start with the garryowens and Morgan knocks on giving us a scrum at midfield. Looks like Jamie Hagan is owning Duncan Jones so far in the scrums.

31m another break from Boss, strolls right through the defence, creates chance for Conway who doesnt get bounce of the ball over the line. 5m scrum for Leinster, chance to shove the Os over the line? No...early shove wastes the chance.

35m another trip deep into Os 22 results in a penalty for offside. Good carrying & recycling from Leinster. Definitely playing the conditions correctly now. Need these three points. Madigan kicks a shocker though. Not quite sure if the Ospreys realise they're allowed to tackle Isaac Boss? Fionn Carr inexplicably kicks into touch on the full on purpose? From the resulting lineout Ospreys win a kickable penalty which should end the half. Morgan makes no mistake, Os go in just one point down and will be happy with that all things considered.

HALFTIME : Ospreys 9-10 Leinster Leinster should be at least a converted try ahead on the scoreboard. Everything the Ospreys are getting going forward is resulting from chances we are gifting them. Second half could come down to who needs to go to their bench more, that team will likely lose. Experienced heads needed to prevail. As for the liveblogging, not something I want to do every week! Much prefer kicking back and enjoying the action as it unfolds!

2nd HALF KICKOFF Rhys Webb is taking liberties with the ref's "use it" calls... Leinster making a couple of early forays into Ospreys 22 to no avail. First score of this half could be vital.

46m Try Ospreys? No. Ball put in behind...several players flapped at it, ref gives Leinster 5m def scrum, I thought D Kearney got touch down (pic) after O player kicked it over thus 22 drop out. Boss manages to get box-kick away, thought Conway knocked it back but ref says it was forward. Attacking scrum to Ospreys at 22.

48m Penalty to Os off scrum. It's out wide but Morgan's going to kick.Good strike direction wise but not hard enough and drops under the posts. From the restart Leinster win a penalty at centre spot and Duncan Jones sees yellow for coming in the side. Madigan to go for kick, good thump but just wide.

51m Leinster need to score on this yellow.

53m exquisite line from Ian Madigan gets ball to 5m before being hauled down by Rhys Webb, ends up scrum to Os, which leads to L free-kick and we opt for a scrum. Leo Auva'a doesnt seem to back himself holding the ball in scrum, we get pushed back to 22 and eventually Ospreys turn it over.

55m Crooked throw from Tom Sexton gives Ospreys massive advantage. They will get big boost from having thwarted that attack.

56m Webb off, his replacement wastes scrum gives away free kick. Knocks ons back and forth, hard to keep track. Ospreys scrum at midfield. Next attack with no cockups should win this one. If indeed there is one.

58m Conor O'Shea makes Os the favourites with L having spurned so many chances. Inclined to agree. 60m I reckon Ben Marshall has been immense since he's been on.

61m TRY OSPREYS Fussell breaks through virtually unopposed from his own 22, ships to Walker who coasts home. All with Os still a man down. And what's more Marshall has to go off to be replaced by Ruddock in 2nd row as Jordi Murphy comes on. Conversion good. Ospreys 16-10 Leinster 62m

64m Ruddock gets isolated at halfway and concedes a pen. Writing seems to be on the wall. Leinster get a chance to clear from their own 22, but need a flash of brilliance to get out of this situation.

68m Macken makes a good break but in the followup Jennings knocks on. Looks like it's not to be our day. Hagan goes off, replaced by Martin Moore. Another "Use it" call not heeded by Ospreys but not given...

70m Yet another series of promising phases ends in a frustrating knockon, this time by Kearney. Moore also seems to have Duncan Jones' number but although we win the ball from scrum we give it back to them.

72m Fionn Carr has been all at sea in this match. Doesn't ever seem to have a clue what to do in any situation.

74m DROP GOAL OSPREYS. Shocking clearance from Carr allows Ospreys set up an easy chance for Morgan in front.

77m Game fizzling out now. It was there for us to win and we couldn't.

80m We attack for the final minutes but lose it near the try line. Says it all really. Deserved win for Ospreys in that they took what we gave them. There was a good spot on the HoR Facebook page by Ian Dornan...Morgan Allen's foot was well over the line when he took the quick lineout to Fussell that led to the Ospreys try (pic). What a shock..illegal lineout leads to Welsh team's victory over an Irish one!

But still a poor second half from Leinster. I'll do a closing summary paragraph in the morning. Thanks to all who checked in on the page during the match!

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The original opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Leinster Rugby, the IRFU, Gavin Henson or anyone else who isn't JL Pagano.