Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Treviso-24 Leinster-24


Jimmy's face really says it all, doesn't it?  I'd be tempted to let the picture say it all because the less said about this match, the better.

But alas, happy and all as I was overall from the sporting weekend just gone, this is meant to be a match writeup so I guess I should really make it look like one!

I must admit that although Treviso fullback Jayden Hayward missed two chances to clinch this contest for the home side late on, and although I said beforehand I'd have been happy with four points and we actually managed three, it still felt like a loss when the match was over.

However, watching the game back I did manage to find enough to fill two distinct categories of positives and negatives...

Four well-taken Leinster tries

Dismiss the overall performance all you want, but our 24 points didn't put themselves on the board. None of the 5-pointers were classics, and often they were the result of Treviso errors, but still well-taken.  

Treviso were up for it

Just as I said in my preview..."of all the matches on Treviso's upcoming schedule, this is the one they would most likely target to break their season duck in the victory column."  

They were willing to put it through the hands from the very first minute to the very last and their four tries and 24 points on the scoreboard came mostly out of sheer will and hopefully their fans appreciate what they got done that day, because I can't see the rest of the season going too well for them.

Pure unadulterated "homerism" by referee

I HATE pointing to the ref when my team doesn't do well but I really did think Neil Robertson was a factor.  11 penalties to 5 did not reflect how the action went, especially when you consider that Dave Kearney was held back by Treviso centre Enrico Bachin when it seemed certain he was going to score and no sanction was taken.

But let's be clear - our failure to win was by no means entirely down to him.  See below...


Defence problems across the backline

9 Luke McGrath's omnishambles at the scrum on his own line - a Treviso try should NEVER have come from that situation.  
10 Gopperth's blocked clearance leading to third try plus his missed drop goal.  Some fans go way too far in saying he's "useless", but it most certainly has not been his season.
12 & 13 Reid & Macken - all at sea for their first try and never really got going.  I honestly believe having Luke on the park would have been at least worth the one extra score to give us the maximum victory, but it really does look like we still can't count on his presence same as last season
23 Mick McGrath - Great attitude, shame about the execution on the defensive front

Lack of leadership on the park

We were ahead many times but there was no sign of any unified effort to hold on to it.  Even visible frustration with the referee would have been something!


For the umpteenth time this season I feel I have to re-iterate my position regards Matt O'Connor's tenure at Leinster.  I'm not happy with the selections he is making.  Nor am I happy with the way we are playing, both in preparation and in the heat of battle.  

I still feel I have to make a distinction from a growing amount of opinion which basically says "Matt Out".  Terminating his contract mid season would be ridiculous as far as I'm concerned.  We see it all the time in soccer but the rugby season is a different animal altogether.

Besides...while it is true performances have not been up to scratch this season, it's not as though the situation is irretrievable.  We are a mere three points off the playoff places in the Pro12 and we are in a pool-winning position in Europe.

For me it would be lunacy to write off the coaching ticket now with so many chances to get our season back on track, together with so many players returning to the lineup.

And strangely, though it could be argued that Matt O'Connor's biggest failing is that he's "not Joe", this match in Treviso reminded me of an away defeat we suffered at the Liberty Stadium back in November 2011.

On that day we raced to an early 10-0 lead against the Ospreys and proceeded to play bonehead rugby including, ironically enough, a needless quick tap penalty from Leo Auva'a (who did ok for Treviso on this occasion even if he did win a penalty at one point despite having both elbows on the ground over the ball) allowing them back into it.

Well from that disastrous day, we turned our season around.  Can the 2014/15 version of Leinster take the three points from Treviso and do something similar?

Paul O'Connell was keen to point out after Ireland's heroic victory that "we've been here before".  Well guess what - "we" as in Leinster have been where we are now before as well, and what's more we have plenty of ammo to help us get from here to where we need to be.

But one this is for sure...provided he is fit and cleared to play, Ian Madigan absolutely, positively, MUST start at 10 for Leinster against the Ospreys this weekend and beyond.  I'm going to leave it at that in case it doesn't happen and I can launch into my rant in my preview this Friday.


Also last weekend

10NG DRAGONS81-798113-147

Next round

Fri Nov 28

Cardiff Blues v Benetton Treviso, Cardiff Arms Park, 7:35pm
Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park. 7:35pm

Sat Nov 29

Zebre v Edinburgh, Stadio XXV APril, 3pm
Leinster v Ospreys, RDS, 5:15pm
Connacht v Scarlets, 7:30pm

Sun Nov 30

Glasgow v NG Dragons, Scotstoun, 4pm


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019