Monday 20 November 2017

Leinster's blue steel puts them one step from home last-8 tie

LEINSTER are one step away from a home Heineken Cup quarter final and a sell-out Aviva Stadium.

The champions had to show their blue steel to book their place in the last eight yesterday but a home draw is not yet assured. Joe Schmidt's men were given a real examination by the Glasgow Warriors in Firhill in a 23-16 win with a late cameo from Isaac Boss ensuring that Leinster maintained their 13-month unbeaten record in Europe's premier club competition.

The win put them one step closer to a home tie that would see the Aviva Stadium filled to capacity.

Nine points clear at the top of Pool 3 is exactly where Leinster want to be but only victory over Montpellier next week will bring them home advantage in April's quarter-final.

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin pointed out the importance of playing in front of their own fans in Dublin in the aftermath of yesterday's triumph.

"It's crucial. Every team up around the top of their group, they can see how important it is to try and get a home quarter-final," he said. "We have another very tough game against Montpellier next week so it's about trying to get the win and push on from there."

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt said his side would be pulling out all the stops next week at the RDS. "We'll come away from this, glue ourselves back together in six days and front up at the RDS in front of a full stadium and try and chase that home quarter-final that we really, really want," he said.

But Schmidt was playing down their European supremacy. "We are just another contender," he said. "It was the first thing we said in Montpellier before we started this Heineken Cup. We thoroughly enjoyed the summer and for the summer we were champions.

"But we were one of just 24 contenders; there were 23 other contenders as well. After next weekend there will be eight contenders.

"We're delighted to be one of those eight, but we're just one of eight contenders."


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