So I’m a bit hoarse.
Aside from the FT score, I think we need to look at this match as more than its result. 45,000 blues packed the Aviva Stadium yesterday evening. 45,000 supporters who still love Leinster enough to shell out for a European Cup match. Not bad going given our current form, which brings me on to my next point…
I love the term “fair weather fan”. It fits the Golden Era bandwagoners beautifully, they are a faint memory at the moment. These “fans” have been filling our newsfeeds with blatant insults towards the players as individuals, an atmosphere of negativity and a lack of confidence in our team and its management. And I won’t give them the time of day. Munster have been suffering the same problem recently with a small minority of “supporters” targeting players on their performances. It’s not on.
As I write I’m reminiscent of a blog I wrote last season “Playing for Pride”. It was again relevant to Leinster’s meeting with Toulon last night, however this time I think we have more to be proud of this time. Leinster played with the desire and intent that I’ve missed this year so far. I left my voice in my seat, and probably still ringing in the ears of the 3 French gentlemen sitting in front of me. The lads gave us something to shout about, they gave us hope, albeit it only lasted for the 1st half. Still, you can’t say it was awful, because it wasn’t.
Without picking on individuals, we can’t dispute the fact that some of our old brigade are in a slump. I’m not an expert nor do I claim to be, I’m just not able to put my finger on why their form has slipped so much in such a short space of time.
Sexton looks tired. He’s such an intense player I actually think it’s having the opposite effect he’d like on his game. As BOD said, he could do with a break, I think it would do him the world of good to take some time out to rest and get his head together. His frustration is evident in each match and it seems to be one step forward, two steps back with him at the moment.
Isa Nacewa did pretty well I thought, not as vocal a captain as Heaslip was but still his presence was felt. He still has a fine pair of legs on him and between himself and Fitzgerald the backs made a mockery of Toulon on more than one occasion in the 1st half. Luke Fitzgerald stepped Ma’a Nonu for the second time in 2 weeks. That brought a smile to my face. For a player who has unluckily been plagued with injury throughout his career, could this be a glimpse into the next few years with Fitz as a centre?
Unfortunately we saw Mike Ross leave the pitch injured, a hamstring strain/tear was Cullen’s best guess in his post match interview. His 6 Nations is in serious question along with an ever growing list of doubtfuls I’m sure Schmidt must be worried about.
The scrum collapsed in the 2nd half (pun intended). Toulon’s muscle proved too much for the blues in the end but again we saw a try. Leinster made a solid start to the 1st half, just 18 mins in good quick ball stretched the Toulon defence, and they eventually crumbled under pressure. Leinster’s maul charged over the line, Van der Flier dotted down, but Wayne Barnes had already awarded a penalty try for the maul being illegally pulled down. Their intensity and focus was evident and Toulon were there for the taking however this French team are not the champions of Europe for no reason. As we’ve seen time and time again, Toulon clawed their way back into this match and kept Leinster from scoring for the entirety of the 2nd half.
As things stand, I don’t care much about the table or points etc. I wanted to go to support the boys in blue, to roar myself hoarse and sit on the edge of my seat for 80 minutes. I’ll do the same again on 1st of January in the RDS against Connacht. If Leinster lose that one too, so be it. We have a steady slope to climb back up and I have no doubt it will be difficult and will take some time but we’ll get there. Patience lads. Patience.
Emma McGarry (@EmmaKMcGarry) - Hugely interested in all aspects of rugby. Supporter of Irish and Leinster Rugby. "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" - Brian O'Driscoll