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Sunday 4 December 2016

Blues come to life in the end

While Connacht could be in for shot at Sexton's Racing

Ian Madigan, Leinster, makes a break. Guinness PRO12, Round 22, Edinburgh v Leinster. BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ian Madigan, Leinster, makes a break. Guinness PRO12, Round 22, Edinburgh v Leinster. BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Maybe the disappearance of the clouds of pressure and expectation that drifted away with the guarantee of the Champions Cup left enough room for Leinster's finest attacking 80 minutes in a long time.

Edinburgh were steeled for a shot at the Champions Cup play-offs as long as The Osprey could out-manoeuvre Connacht in Galway.

However, the Scots were swept away by five fine tries as creativity and cutting edge returned to Leinster's productivity.

There was a real zip to Ian Madigan's passing, replacing Jimmy Gopperth's tendency to have a look at a snipe before moving the ball on.

"It was a really tough game as Edinburgh really put it up to us with them fighting for European qualification," Madigan said.

"It was very important for us to end on a high as we did lose our way a bit in the league during the Six Nations."

The Ireland international took one final chance to put the weight of his confidence in behind his under-fire coach.

"This game showed that the team has full belief in our head coach Matt O'Connor.

"When we stick to his game plan, then we are a very capable side, and it was great to score more than four tries as well here."

When the dust had settled, Connacht were feted with the oh-so-difficult route to Europe's elite competition of having to gild Gloucester at Kingsholm next Sunday.

The odds will be against them over there as the hardening ground plays into the Cherry & Whites quicksilver backs.

Even then, they will win the right to return home to see-off the seventh-placed French Top 14 club for the right to join Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

This is most likely to be one of three in Jonathan Sexton's Racing Metro - the Ireland fly-half did not start against La Rochelle on Saturday. - Oyonnax or Bordeaux.

At present, Racing are seventh with one round left to play.

Certainly, Connacht will have to get out of the blocks quicker at Gloucester than they did against The Ospreys falling 24-0 behind before rescuing a late losing bonus-point.

"We have to start better," said coach Pat Lam.

"Some people say we don't care, and that's rubbish. We showed that in the second half once we were able to control the ball, make our tackles and get into it. I'm really proud of the effort.

"We came in at half-time and kept it really calm. I normally show some clips on the video, but I didn't bother with that because we just knew we had to get back into our game.

"We just had to get back into our shape and come back to run them close. We ran out of time in the end, but it just shows what this team is made of."

 

Leinster

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