Train Crash! Leinster’s season derailed by Munster loss.   1 comment

Due to a bereavement there will be no video episode this week.  Blues Talk TV will return next week to discuss the Munster and Zebre games

Where to begin? Leinster’s proud home record?

Last loss to Munster in Dublin was October 2008. 18 0. From memory that was the only time Leinster have been nilled in the RDS.

In the intervening years home league losses have been fairly infrequent.

2009/10 Final
2010/11 None
2011/12 Glasgow, Ospreys and Final
2012/13 Ulster
2013/14 none

The season with the most home league losses (2011/12) was our best season ever. We only lost 4 games in all competitions. 3 of those were to the Ospreys. 2 of them were by a single point and only one was by more than 4 points.

Many would say Leinster have been living on their reputation since that season. That performances have been slipping and that the results would finally catch up with those performances.

One school of thought is that when a team can grind out wins while playing badly, that is the sign of a great team.  In some ways the opposite is that if you look after the performance then the results will follow.

So. Have the chickens finally come home to roost for Leinster? Or will this loss make them stronger because of what they will learn about themselves from it?

The game itself has been written and spoken about ad nauseam since the weekend. Suffice to say that Leinster were bullied by a Munster team who perhaps “needed” the win even more than they did. Even when they shot themselves in the foot with 4 yellows and a penalty try we could not nail a losing bonus point.

Matt O’Connor certainly did not have his finest hour. The mindset of the team for a game is developed by the coaches and senior players in the week leading up to it. Of course individual players have to put in the work and develop their own motivations, but the basic “mood” is set by the coaching staff in their preparation and gameplan. If the players have confidence in this they will be more likely to deliver on the day.

The gameplan seemed to include under resourcing rucks, kicking the ball away when we had 1 and even 2 player advantages, and not kicking smartly enough in general.

Add in the bit of “sillybuggers” that he played with injuries and team selection, and the complaining about the ref on the radio the following day (whether he was right or wrong) and it all adds up to a very poor weekend for Mr O’Connor.

We missed Shane Jennings of course for this fixture as was widely predicted. Both for his deck work and even more importantly for his leadership. Dom Ryan started well and showed a good bit of aggression early on. Perhaps a little too eager in giving away the first penalty, but he just doesn’t have the smarts (or obviously the experience) of Jeno.

Fanning gave his increasingly solid performance, Cronin carried well, Madigan showed some spark, the Byrne twins did not look out of place in such a high profile fixture, but most of the rest were “meh” at best. Jimmy Gopperth having one of his worse displays in particular.

Hopefully this is the low point of the season and the lessons learned will fuel a “comeback” that puts our season back on track.

Looking at the fixtures between this game and our next game v Munster on Stephen’s day our target should be to go into that game on a streak of 9 wins in a row. 2 Italian away games. Home games v Edinburgh, Connacht and a meeting with the Ospreys in the RDS (while Wales play their 4th Autumn International) are the 5 very winnable Pro 12 games.

None of the teams in our European group are in great form either.

First up are Wasps who have been thrown into turmoil with their impending move to Coventry. That has got to be a distraction.

The away trip to Castres is possibly the hardest, but they have just come off the bottom of the league by putting 50 points on “Bernard Jackman’s Grenoble”. Finally there are the back to back games v “Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins” in December. Losing one of these OR the Castres game would be about the only acceptable loss in the 9 games.

In most other recent seasons you would put your wages on an accumulator for Leinster to successfully negotiate this sequence of fixtures. From where they are now though it is hard to be so confident.

We don’t seem to know our best 10 12 13 combo. We are not playing well, and we have some long term, high profile injuries to our 2 best ball carriers.

On the plus side…… Most of the other injured players will be returning in the very near future. Strauss, Kirchner, Jack McGrath and Moore as soon as this weekend, with Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin not far behind. Fitzgerald (Fingers crossed) Dave Kearney, McFadden and Jordi Murphy should be ready after the break for the November tests, (Some perhaps sooner) and hopefully we can sustain a minimum of new injuries to crucial players in the meantime.

So. Onwards and upwards with a half full glass. This is the time that the team needs our support the most!

John G

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Posted October 8, 2014 by bluestalktv in Ireland, Leinster, Rugby

One response to “Train Crash! Leinster’s season derailed by Munster loss.

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  1. Good synopsis, John. Hopefully it was a salutary lesson for all involved. Hopefully too the misconception MO’C has been under since he started, as to who his number one outhalf should be, has finally been banished by JG’s dismal showing against Munster. An inspection of the latest training photos on the Leinster Rugby website leads me to infer we could be seeing Mads 10, Reid 12 and Darce 13 against Zebre with MMcG on the wing. LMcG is quite conspicuous in the photos also. If he and IM were to start as our half-back pairing bheadh mé an-an-sásta!!!!!!

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