By going a little bit crooked with their feeds, Leinster broke the law and they won

The home side were in trouble in the scrum against Connacht until they started testing the refereee

Connacht put enormous pressure on the Leinster scrum. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Connacht put enormous pressure on the Leinster scrum. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Fri, Nov 1, 2013, 09:03

Having been to Beamer’s wedding on Saturday I missed all the live rugby, so settled in on Monday to catch up. It was amazing to experience the Leinster-Connacht game knowing the outcome. With a massive 67 minutes remaining and Connacht ahead 13-3 , I searched for the reasons they lost.

Much of it was tough viewing. Leinster struggled in many areas but most notably with their buckling offence. I lost count of the times the ball was passed behind the receiver’s shoulder forcing him to check his run, stunting any creative rhythm.

Why Connacht failed to score for over an hour was rooted in many aspects of their game – most notably an ability to select the wrong option at the wrong time. This of course improves with experience. Either way, neither Leinster nor Connacht played consistently well, with Leinster searching for rhythm and Connacht confidence.

That said, the game came down to a few key moments; all in the scrum.

Several times this season I’ve noticed Seán Cronin and others having difficulty getting the strike away. The first time was against Cardiff, where the pressure prevented Cronin from lifting his striking leg. The result was a lonely, non-moving ball in the middle of the scrum channel with both hookers staring forlornly. In the end Matthew Rees flung a foot at the ball hoping to rebound it off the Leinster frontrow’s legs back into the Cardiff scrum.


Enormous pressure
Brett Wilkinson, Connacht’s loosehead has been doing credible damage to his opposition all season. Against Michael Bent last week he repeated this domination, with the knock-on effect on Cronin’s strike. For much of the game Cronin was unable to lift his striking leg when Eoin Reddan fed the ball.

Here’s where the new laws and developing tactics come into play. The opposition, Connacht in this case, placed enormous pressure the striking hooker – both Wilkinson and his hooker Seán Henry trapped Cronin down. The new laws give an unfair advantage to Connacht as, at this point, they are scrummaging eight against seven. Once this is achieved the ball will sit in the centre of no man’s land.

The next step makes the Leinster scrum extremely vulnerable. As Cronin attempts to swing at the ball, the opposition time a secondary snap right with Cronin at his weakest; hence destabilising the scrum enormously. Against Castres in similar circumstances Jamie Heaslip was magnificent in managing ball control in a retreating scrum.

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Rabo Pro 12

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Leinster 19 14 1 4 455 312 11 69
Ulster 19 14 0 5 462 253 9 65
Munster 19 14 0 5 434 285 7 63
Glasgow 18 14 0 4 328 250 4 60
Ospreys 19 11 1 7 479 328 10 56
Scarlets 19 9 1 9 361 383 7 45
Edinburgh 18 7 0 11 325 391 7 35
Connacht 19 6 0 13 359 364 10 34
Cardiff 19 6 1 12 371 483 7 33
Dragons 19 6 1 12 339 419 5 31
Treviso 19 5 1 13 334 471 7 29
Zebre 19 3 2 14 291 465 5 21

Pool One

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Leinster 6 5 0 1 152 67 2 22
Northampton 6 4 0 2 107 104 1 17
Castres 6 2 0 4 78 104 1 9
Ospreys 6 1 0 5 75 138 1 5

Pool Two

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Toulon 6 5 0 1 170 104 4 24
Cardiff 6 3 0 3 119 148 2 14
Exeter 6 2 0 4 118 123 4 12
Glasgow 6 2 0 4 98 130 3 11

Pool Three

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Toulouse 6 5 0 1 143 63 3 23
Saracens 6 4 0 2 217 74 4 20
Connacht 6 3 0 3 101 147 1 13
Zebre 6 0 0 6 33 210 0 0

Pool Four

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Clermont 6 5 0 1 139 69 4 24
Harlequins 6 3 0 3 126 103 4 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 122 150 1 11
Racing Metro 6 1 1 4 66 131 1 7

Pool Five

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Ulster 6 6 0 0 179 62 2 26
Leicester 6 4 0 2 159 112 5 21
Montpellier 6 2 0 4 121 124 3 11
Treviso 6 0 0 6 41 202 0 0

Pool Six

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 161 77 3 23
Gloucester 6 3 0 3 113 114 2 14
Edinburgh 6 3 0 3 104 141 0 12
Perpignan 6 1 0 5 112 158 3 7