Saturday 22 October 2016

Heartbroken but defiant Heaslip lost for words

Leinster's Devin Toner acknowledges the Leinster supporters after the game
Leinster's Devin Toner acknowledges the Leinster supporters after the game

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip had the look of a man who had seen the 'Promised Land' only for it to be a mirage.

"It's hard to get some words right now, to be honest," he said.

"A lot of people didn't give us a shout. We came down here with nothing to lose. There was heart shown by everyone out there to go for 100 minutes of rugby."

There was real belief in the way Leinster went about taming the Toulon set-piece. Their forwards were simply inspired, dominating the scrum and lineout for periods.

The first and second set of front rows revealed thorough strength in depth as men of the stature of Carl Hayman were made to struggle.

The restart work of Devin Toner was exemplary, the involvement of Jordi Murphy out of touch a source of clean ball and Heaslip a steady hand at the till.

Away from there, front row forwards Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Martin Moore all pinched turnovers beside the workaholic Sean O'Brien.

There were times when Toulon threatened to get in behind. But Leinster were relentless in wrapping them up in a steel curtain defence, led by the remarkable O'Brien.

"They're a tough side to break down and they're a side, you let them win the gain line, they get a lot of momentum off the back of that and it's hard to defend.

"We had a lot of confidence. We took the scores that got presented. But, we've come out second best."

It went some way towards redeeming what has been an unfulfilling season.

"There has been a lot of outside talk and hype around the game," Heaslip addressed.

"We just focussed on what we could do which was our set-piece, our launch play, our defensive system and our general shape. For the whole week that was our focus.

"We definitely did ask a lot of questions of them and, at times, put them under pressure. It just didn't come our way."

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