Matt O’Connor happy enough with Leinster display

Red card for Ospreys lock Ian Evans turned game into ‘a circus’, says coach

Leinster’s Mike McCarthy  leaves the field with a blood injury after Ian Evans was sent off. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Leinster’s Mike McCarthy leaves the field with a blood injury after Ian Evans was sent off. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Sat, Jan 18, 2014, 00:01

Leinster emerged from what coach Matt O’Connor admitted was something of “a circus” of a game content to have qualified and relieved to have emerged relatively unscathed if a little disappointed not to have scored more tries.

“There wasn’t too much disappointing about the performance,” said O’Connor. “Once the red card was given it turned into a bit of a circus. The circus didn’t impact on our ability to score tries and get the result, but it certainly changed the intensity of the contest and took away a bit of the structure that we were trying to bring into the game.”

In citing the red card, penalty tries and uncontested scrums, O’Connor also observed: “I think the five-day turnaround has to be looked at, in relation to professional athletes preparing and performing as well as they can.

“We butchered three tries,” he admitted. “There were probably three tries that we should have scored but didn’t score. Those things happen.”

O’Connor said Gordon D’Arcy merely suffered a dead leg and a bang on his hip, while Mike McCarthy had “a handful of stitches on that cut above his eye. It probably looked a little bit worse than it was.”

If Glasgow were to turn over Toulon, then come Sunday morning Leinster could be clinging on to a home quarter-final ahead of Munster and Clermont, with Leinster on 22 points and 16 tries, and Munster on 18 points and 13 tries. For Munster to overtake Leinster they would need a bonus point win, or to win by 35 points with three tries.

The Ospreys’ assistant coach Griff Rees did not have too many complaints about Evans’s red card. “Perhaps in some ways we were reckless as a forward pack in how we were going forward, but it’s taken a lot of replays to make that decision.”

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