Leinster emerge from Connacht scrap with clean bill of health and many positives

While hardly setting the world alight, Matt O’Connor believes his side will benefit from the blow-out

Leinster’s Jimmy Gopperth offloads to Gordon D’Arcy to score his sides only try. Connacht head coach Pat Lam thought the pass was forward. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Leinster’s Jimmy Gopperth offloads to Gordon D’Arcy to score his sides only try. Connacht head coach Pat Lam thought the pass was forward. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 01:00

Leinster emerged from a relatively productive weekend with a win away to Connacht which returned them to second place in the Rabo Pro12 table while trimming Munster’s lead to three points. Just as satisfyingly, they also reported a clean bill of health approaching their decisive Heineken Cup pool games away to Castres next Sunday and at home to the Ospreys five days later.

Already denied the services of their primary source of go-forward ball in the shape of Seán O’Brien, that was imperative, and while they hardly set the world alight in eventually subduing a typically fired-up Connacht, Matt O’Connor believes his strong selection, which is likely mirror his European line-ups, will benefit from the blow-out after the Christmas hiatus.

“That was the thinking. Some of those guys have had two weeks off away from that rugby environment. There’s been a lot of distractions with the Ireland camp, Christmas and New Year. The thinking was to get a good week’s training and a good hit-out to set us up for next weekend.”

Luke Fitzgerald withdrew before the game due to illness but O’Connor said: “Luke trained all week and it’s probably a 24-hour thing. Dave (Kearney) did the job well.”

Two penalties
Leinster didn’t hit the front until the 63rd minute through the first of two penalties by Jimmy Gopperth, before he subsequently converted Gordon D’Arcy’s decisive try, and the way he steadied the ship after being introduced for Ian Madigan would seem to put the Kiwi in pole position to start at outhalf against Castres.

Noting that Connacht “were always going to be massively up for the game” perhaps tellingly O’Connor added: “From that end, we knew we had to be accurate. We kicked poorly in the first half. We didn’t kick it out when we had the luxury of the 22. And when we kicked contestable, they weren’t contestable and we invited them back into the game which was disappointing. By and large, we fixed that in the second half. We looked after the ball. We played in the right areas and we were pretty happy with the second half.”

A hard-earned, sleeves-rolled-up win on the road may not be the worst preparation for facing the reigning French champions. “You’d like to look at all the glitz and glamour of coming here and playing the style of rugby you like to play,” said O’Connor, “but talking to people who’ve been involved in Leinster for a long time, it never happens in Galway. We were realistic in relation to what we had to do to get a result. It won’t be too dissimilar to next week. It’s all about the four points, it’s all about getting the result this weekend and next.”

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.

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 5 422 253 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 11 325 393 7 35
Connacht 19 6 0 13 313 410 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 66 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