Monday, November 16, 2015

A Knock-on For Everyone in the Audience


By Ciarán Duffy

Ciaran Duffy logo

Leinster Sting Themselves With a Lack of Composure

Leinster suffered their heaviest ever home defeat in European competition at the hands of Wasps, and in all honesty the performance did justify it.  Mike McCarthy was solid in the first half, Noel Reid was constantly looking to make things happen.  It’s difficult to point out too many other positive aspects of the performance than that. 

Wasps were the better team, but they must be wondering how they made it out of the RDS with a 27 points victory.  They didn’t have the ball all that often in attacking situations, but they used what possession they had better.  Christian Wade’s try has to be pinned on a mistake by Dave Kearney, but in the build up, Joe Simpson cleared the ball well, while Leinster’s kicking game was poor throughout. 

While most of Wasps’ play was smart, there were questionable decisions, such as kicking all their early restarts straight to Devin Toner.  Largely they did the basics well, including handling.  I have never seen such poor handling from Leinster, struggling to think of anyone who did not knock the ball on at some stage.  Handling errors impacted hugely on the scoreboard, and that’s not something which can be coached. 

There were plenty of times throughout when Leinster did have an attacking platform, but aside from knock-ons, it was a general lack of urgency which resulted in a failure to touch down.  Too often, particularly late in the second-half, would a break-away attack have its momentum destroyed by a failure to recycle the ball quickly.  This was not the case for Wasps, who were immediately up the second they sniffed a turnover.

There was a definite lack of leadership on the field, along with a completely out of character performance from Johnny Sexton.  One moment in the second half when Leinster were awarded a penalty sums it up.  Opting to go for a lineout he simply smashed the ball as soon as the whistle sounded, it went too far and that was another opportunity squandered.  Over reliance on one player, no matter how good, is a dangerous system, and there will be more of these days if it continues. 

While the handling errors can’t be blamed on the coach, there were times when nobody seemed to know where they were supposed to be, which could again be down to on field leadership.  The lineout needs to be reviewed with possession thrown away twice in key areas, as well as a few poor throws that were fortunate to find their man.  The complete lack of urgency does need to be lamented, as a lack of concentration lead directly to the concession of two tries and heap of wasted opportunities.  Wasps just seemed more up for the game, Leinster were simply not good.  Hopefully this proves to be just a blip, but it needs to improve quickly. 

Not only is a win crucial away to Bath next week, but denying them a losing bonus point has added importance as well.  A European campaign beyond the pool stages is now a big ask with such a poor showing at home to the lowest team in the pool. 

Small silver lining?  There may not be as many sunshine supporters at the next few Leinster games, so we can put away those printed-off simplified rules of rugby handouts.  As for the rest of us, we had plenty of good times, stand by the team throughout the bad. 
 
Ciarán Duffy (@VoiceQuakeDuffy) is a Leinster supporter who would watch any game of rugby while undoubtedly taking it too seriously.  He enjoys over analysing and taking a pessimistic look at the bright side while talking about Irish, European, and World Rugby issues on and off the field. 


*****

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