Seán Cronin to draw a huge amount of belief from Leinster victory
Former Connacht man was the creator in chief of the game’s only try
Leinster’s Seán Cronin is confronted by Osprey’s Justin Tipuric. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
One of Leinster’s most significant pool wins of all time was given added meaning by the make-up of the team. Not only did the Lions roar and lead the way in the absence of three noted captains, but the support cast rose to the challenge as well, none more so than Seán Cronin.
The former Connacht man hasn’t quite made the kind of impact he would have envisaged on joining Leinster in 2011 but with the deeply unfortunate way Richardt Strauss’ season has ended, Cronin’s importance has never been more pronounced.
His ball-carrying ballast is exceptional, and he was the creator in chief of the game’s only try, with a trademark hard line from deep onto Jimmy Gopperth’s pass and offload for Seán O’Brien. His darts have been more problematic, but just as critically Leinster won all 10 of his throws. He and they should draw a huge amount of belief from this victory.
“I think it’s pretty big. There was a lot of talk in the press about lads who were missing and we had an opportunity to go to Munster last week and put in a performance with the lads who were on board and we didn’t do that. We got a bit bullied down there so we had to re-evaluate,” said Cronin.
“We know we have the lads in the club at the moment to go and get results and we stood up tonight. Our history with the Ospreys isn’t all that great. They have managed to get the better of us on a few occasions in the last five or six years so it is a very tough place to come and we are very pleased to get a result.”
Cronin and his fellow forwards could rightly take huge credit from repelling the 26th-minute five-metre scrum by a renowned pack containing five Lions. “Yeah, it was a big statement. They put their cards on the table five metres out. It was a big turning point because we managed to face them there and squeeze the penalty out. I wouldn’t say it was a game-changer or anything like that but it definitely affected the psyche a small bit and we just manned up a small bit.”
Of the man alongside him for that scrum, Martin Moore, Cronin said: “For a young guy like that to come in to an environment like that, Heineken Cup, propping against two Lions frontrowers, you would have to give the guy credit. It was a fantastic achievement but he has been doing it all year quietly in training. We’re not surprised. I presume people will be surprised but I am really happy for him that he managed to squeeze the penalty so a big pat on the back for him.”
Although innately modest, being reminded of his own try assist made him smile. “Yeah, it was good. Seánie was there like all good sevens off the back and he managed to fall over the line. It was what we were trying to do all week, to get combinations like that going.”
Seeing O’Brien and Leinster’s array of recent and past Lions playing as they did had also been hugely inspirational. “They have been on a couple of Lions tours and had how many international caps so when they are performing it’s a pleasure to be a part of. We all showed up.”
That said, Cronin readily stressed it won’t count for much if they don’t back it up next Saturday against Castres. “They say If you lose any game at home in the Heineken Cup it is effectively curtains so we know we have to be really focused. They managed to beat Northampton, so I am sure they will come to the RDS full of confidence.”
By contrast, the Ospreys are pitched into something of a do-or-die mission in Northampton. “We weren’t good enough, it’s as simple as that,” conceded Alun Wyn Jones. “When you have as much possession as we did and turn it over, you don’t deserve to win. Then we took our foot off the gas and let them back into the game. We made one glaring defensive error in the first half and they made the most of it to get their try.”
“It’s the same old story for us - we haven’t started very well. It was our first home game to start with for a long time and we haven’t made the most of it. I’m angry, and I made mistakes, and I think we should all be angry about the performance.”