To enter bonus territory this weekend, Leinster and Munster must not try to force things
FROM THE BLINDSIDE:At this stage, it’s crucial to find the balance in order to progress
When you get to this weekend in any Heineken Cup season, it’s crucial that you try to play as naturally as possible. No matter what the situation is – whether you need a win, a win with a bonus point, a losing bonus point, whatever. The key is try and strike the balance between being full of intent and actually trying too hard and forcing it. Leinster got that balance right last Saturday and got their bonus point as a result. Unfortunately, Munster fell short of it and failed to get theirs.
Now obviously there’s a lot more involved and it’s not that simple.
Leinster were playing at home on Saturday night and no matter how poor Edinburgh have been this season, Munster still had to travel there in search of the bonus-point win on Sunday. You’re not exactly comparing like with like there.
But it was clear from the start of their game against the Scarlets that Leinster were looking a lot sharper than they had for most of the Heineken Cup season so far. They had a lot more pace in their game, a lot more intensity. The fact they’re not in a good position to get out of their pool didn’t seem to weigh them down at all. They went out full of purpose, as if to say, “Right, this is out of our hands so we may as well just throw caution to the wind.” We know that when Leinster are in that sort of mood and when the passes stick, there’s very few teams in Europe can handle them.
They’re such potent attacking force primarily because of two things – the fact that they have dangerous threats in every part of their backline and the pace at which they do things in order to get those threats into the game.
It starts with their work at the breakdown. They’re just so efficient in that facet of the game. I’d love to see some stats on what the average time is for the ball actually staying in the breakdown when they’re in possession – I would imagine it’s only in or around two seconds. They recycle it so quickly that it releases the players running onto it before the opposition defence can get properly set. It sounds so basic on paper but it’s very difficult to do, especially when you’re playing to keep your season alive.
But Leinster were able to do things at pace on Saturday, knowing the best time to put their stamp on the game was right from the start.
When you’ve won the competition three times in four years, you know you carry some bit of intimidation factor. They know that teams are nervous of letting you get a run on them. So you have to play into that by going for it and playing with pace but also with confidence.