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Tuesday 22 August 2017

Leinster fail to make up the numbers

O'Connor admits: 'We have to get our house in order pretty quickly'

"It was like Sudoku out there at one stage," quipped coach Anthony Foley.

There were four yellow cards to Munster's Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Dave Foley and Conor Murray in the 58th, 61st, 69th and 71st minutes.

It all came too late for Leinster.

Leinster's Matt O'Connor was in no mood to look at this tie with wry amusement. He had issues with Munster and referee Ian Davies.

"It is very hard with the TMO (Television Match Official) and everything that goes with the modern game and a load of soccer mums at home watching," he said.

"It makes it very, very hard to deal with illegal play at the breakdown. That is the reality of it. You've got to trust the officials. I thought every time we had momentum they killed the ball."

The Australian wasn't about to let his players off the hook either.

He felt Leinster were "soft" in getting off to a slow start in their 34-23 defeat to Munster at an electric Aviva Stadium on Saturday night.

"We need to get a little more grit, a little bit more determination to stop teams scoring in those situations," he said.

"There's no doubt that in two tries, at close quarters, they dominated the collisions and they got momentum there with two very well constructed tries.

"Beyond that, I didn't think they dominated too much".

It was a long way back for Leinster when prop James Cronin and number eight Robin Copeland both reached out for the line.

It became virtually unbreachable when out-half Ian Keatley picked Jimmy Gopperth's pocket for an intercept try just before half-time.

"The result is disappointing. No one is happy with that, certainly the first half performance," he said.

"We would back ourselves to be better than that. We'll lick our wounds and make sure we're better next time.

"Our close quarter defence wasn't good enough. Our execution on the big moments wasn't good enough.

"Tighten up those things and it's not the end of the world," he said.

Sadly, Fergus McFadden was stretchered off with what looked like a serious ankle injury, Mike Ross left with a foot problem and Tadhg Furlong with a blow to the head as Leinster counted the cost of defeat.

"It leaves us a little off the pace, doesn't it? You haven't got too many (more) games to lose if you're talking about top two (slot). We've got to get our house in order pretty quick".

Maybe Foley is right. 'The Canterbury Way' is not 'The Munster Way'.

"At times, we are easy targets because we are local," said Foley, about the recent criticism aimed at the jersey he covets so passionately.

"People know us. They know what we are about. They know our wrinkles. They know our good sides as well. I'm delighted for everybody in the team."

It must have filled Foley with a sense of dread that he saw Munster move so far away from what has always been home to them, the pick-and-go, the maul, the breakdown, being direct and relentless in attack.

reinvent

"It's not about what I think Munster should be doing. You do what you are good at. You don't try and reinvent yourself to something you are not good at," he stressed.

"Now, at times, we were very good at the wide, wide Canterbury style game and we got to two European Cup semi-finals. And the knock-outs of the Rabo'. There is a lot to be said about that."

In Foley's eyes, this was a performance that was coming. The scoreline tells the end of the story, not the whole of it.

He had nothing but the deepest respect for the commitment shown by his players.

"Their appetite for work out there was frightening at times."

Munster left nothing out on the pitch. Leinster took nothing from it.

CJ STANDER

The South African carries as if he plays for the Springboks even though he could be lining out in green in the future.

Ian Keatley picked off Jimmy Gopperth for an intercept that took Munster out to 28-9 in the 38th minute.

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