Friday, April 18, 2014

Leinster-62 Treviso-7

Reid All About It

REID ALL ABOUT IT

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It may have come against an opposition which had the stuffing long since knocked out of them, but still Leinster saved the best of their nine tries until last in this one-sided affair.

The move began from a Treviso scrum inside the Leinster 22 – not the first time the Italians had been there by a long chalk despite the lop-sided scoreline, but with just the 7 points on the scoreboard they surely wanted to play to the end to at least get into double-digits.

One major problem for them was that after two disappointing away defeats in a row, this was a Leinster side determined to make a statement that their season was far from over. With the clock ticking past 79 the home pack put on a good shove to win the scrum against the head before Jamie Heaslip popped it up to sub scrum-half Luke McGrath, both of whom had crossed the line themselves in the previous five minutes.

The ball then got flung out wide to the far wing, as had been the norm for the Leinster offence on the day, where the recipient was Darragh Fanning, the nominated man-of-the-match (curiously I thought but more on that later). More phases followed but we were still operating on or around our own 22.

It took a neat “Gidley-style” offload from Jimmy Gopperth in the tackle to put Noel Reid into space and with his skipper Jamie Heaslip in support he showed the composure to both pass and keep up with the play to get the ball back and before long he was sauntering over the line as you see in the lead photo to provide the cherry on the icing on the cake for Leinster.

You could forgive me for going into similar detail on the other eight tries which would produce a writeup of a decent enough length but I'm not sure that would properly capture the atmosphere at the RDS on Good Friday.

This certainly wasn't a match for analysing the stat sheet. Besides...if you did, you'd be horribly let down by ESPN's Scrum.com because not for the first time they have published a completely inaccurate set of figures...I'm not sure why they bother if there are to be such mistakes as Gopperth being given 100% placekicking when he missed two and the possession numbers looking like they were made up.

No, this was a match and indeed an occasion for the Leinster fans in attendance to enjoy, and hopefully the vast majority of them did. Not only was there a comfortable home victory but it was a beautiful day, there were eggs hidden everywhere for the kids, and even kegs forbidden elsewhere for the grown-ups.

It was also one of the last remaining chances to appreciate the presence of Brian O'Driscoll gracing a professional rugby pitch, though sadly his best contribution of a superbly-weighted pass on the run to Noel Reid didn't result in one of the nine tries. In fact, it was a rare BOD boo-boo that later led to the only Treviso score but if you don't tell anyone I won't!

OK – let's face it, the visitors weren't exactly up to scratch. This has been their fourth season in the league, and the result hardly shows that they have progressed much, though that would be a tad unfair because Leinster's standards have improved themselves greatly in that same period of time.

Plus whatever gameplan they may have had going into this contest would have gone out the window when their inside centre Christian Loamanu, who had shown some good early touches, fell badly after colliding with Zane Kirchner in mid-air and had to be stretchered off for what looked like a serious injury, though a tweet from the club the next day showed he was ok.

All of this meant that Leinster could only play what was in front of them and with much bigger challenges left in the season, though there would still have been a few things to be named & shamed in the DVD sessions, you'd really want to be a grumpy sod to find negatives in this result.

You may have worked out from my headline that I reckon Noel Reid should have been man-of-the-match. Here are my reasons : 1. two tries including the pick of the bunch 2. on the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf it has been a fairytale weekend for his club Clontarf RFC so why not help the celebrations along (plus Brian Boru died on Good Friday) and 3. though Reid was accredited with 3 missed tackles, he did force a key turnover at one stage and don't forget we can ignore the tackling stats given the source!

Not that Fanning hasn't had a fine season and I have noted him several times throughout, but if you're going to pick someone who didn't get on the scoresheet they really would want to have played out of their skins and I reckon he was solid but there were other displays more notable out there, particularly young Luke McGrath off the bench who along with Kieran Marmion over in Galway is helping to create quite a bottleneck in the queue for the Irish 9 jumper.

All this means that with two matches left, I make it that Leinster just need 5 points to clinch first place on the table, which in turn means we can “afford” to lose up in Ravenhill in two weeks unless Edinburgh can upset the form book at the RDS.

That knowledge won't make this upcoming weekend any easier for us, mind you, as we are used to being involved in some kind of European semifinal.

But we are in a British & Irish one don’t forget, and Leinster A can take another step on the road to retaining the Cup as they head to Sardis Park on Saturday to play before what is likely to be a far more passionate home Welsh crowd than the one which showed up for “Judgement Day”.

So as you can see, though we may have thought our 2013/14 season was dead before Good Friday, there's plenty of reasons to believe it can rise again before the campaign is out. Well with the weekend that was in it you couldn't let me get through the writeup without at least one biblical reference, could you? JLP

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Also this weekend

Glasgow 27 - 9 Ulster

Zebre 26 - 13 Edinburgh

Connacht 23 - 32 Munster

Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 Scarlets

Dragons 10 - 20 Ospreys

 

TEAM PLD PTS W PD T PF TD
1 LEINSTER 20 74 15 198 54 517 26
2 MUNSTER 20 68 15 158 47 466 23
3 ULSTER 20 65 14 151 43 431 20
4 GLASGOW 19 64 15 96 36 355 19
5 OSPREYS 20 60 12 161 50 499 24
6 SCARLETS 20 46 9 -26 36 374 -5
7 CARDIFF BLUES 20 37 7 -108 27 388 -23
8 EDINBURGH 19 35 7 -81 31 338 -12
9 CONNACHT 20 34 6 -106 37 336 -8
10 NG DRAGONS 20 31 6 -90 30 349 -10
11 TREVISO 20 29 5 -192 28 341 -38
12 ZEBRE 20 25 4 -161 32 317 -16
 
Next fixtures
 
Saturday, April 26
 
Glasgow v Edinburgh, 7:05pm
 
Thursday, May 1
 
Zebre v Ospreys, 5pm
 
Friday, May 2
 
Benetton Treviso v Glasgow, 7pm
 
Scarlets v NG Dragons, 7:05pm
 
Ulster v Leinster, 7:30pm
 
Saturday, May 3
 
Connacht v Cardiff Blues, 5pm
 
Edinburgh v Munster, 5pm

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