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Monday 24 July 2017

Byrne breathes sigh of relief as he remains hero

Leinster's Ross Byrne
Leinster's Ross Byrne

Ross Byrne was staring at the Monday morning headline of 'hero turns villain' as Dan Biggar lined up a match-winning kick.

The Wales out-half leaked his shot right and wide of the four-point target the Ospreys had to have to make a reasonable stab at the Top-2. It is an impressive statistic that no club has won a PRO12 League semi-final away from home.

The current standings have Leinster beautifully placed nine points ahead of the Ospreys in third with Scarlets and Ulster separated by the sliver of matches won (14-versus-13) in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Joey Carbery had kept Leinster close enough until his removal in the 75th minute whereupon Byrne sensed it was his moment to make a difference.

He dropped back, received Nick McCarthy's bullet pass and stepped up to flight a high drop goal between the sticks to make it 20-18 with 30 seconds left on the clock.

Rank

It must rank as the single biggest moment of his rookie season in what amounted to an eight-pointer of a League match.

"I struck it nicely and, once you hit it, you just have to hope it's going over.

"I suppose, you just have to know when you are on the bench like that and a game is that tight, you always have it in the back of your mind that it might come down to a moment.

"You just have to be ready for it," he explained.

The fist pump and immediate sense of glory was quickly wiped out when Byrne's high tackle handed Dan Biggar a shot at making good on his 200th appearance for the Ospreys.

"We got out of jail at the end. It was myself who gave away the penalty," admitted Byrne.

The manner of Leinster's sluggish opening quarter was worrying. They could have been further behind than eight points when they started to come into the game, with Man of the Match Seán Cronin and replacement Dan Leavy striking for well-constructed tries.

The latter had a stunning impact in picking up a try and two turnovers when number eight Jack Conan was withdrawn at half-time with a knock to the neck, not thought to be serious.

"We definitely weren't at our best," said Byrne.

"But we're still winning which is very important."

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