Monday 18 December 2017

3 weeks 3 games 3 wins ...

let's keep it up

I keep hearing that you can't win a Heineken Cup in the opening rounds of the group stages, but you can lose it. In that case, it's a very satisfactory two weeks' work done.

Last week against Sarries was always going to be an extremely tough encounter, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Whilst we came out on the right side of the result, which was great, I still feel there is a lot more in us. It was close and if Derick Hougaard had got that easy penalty early on in the match I might be writing very differently about us this week.

Thankfully, we were able to salvage things and I thought we re-grouped really well after conceding the try in the first half.

Once we got our try in the second half Sarries never really looked like they were going to win the game, despite having most of the possession.

Although, at times, it looked like we might lose the game as decisions went against us and our discipline faltered.

What was pleasing was that when the pressure came on, and our defence was put to the test, the team reacted really well. We managed to keep them out of drop-goal range and didn't concede a penalty, which shows that we are definitely capable of giving a disciplined performance.

That might seem like a bleak enough beginning but that's the tough reality of professional sport.

The overview looks good -- three weeks, three big games, three wins. But an ambitious team, which this Leinster team is, should look to continuously improve.

If the smaller details are glossed over or overlooked, doom is impending, and you can't expect with the quality of opposition we face week in, week out in both competitions, that we will be successful if the detail is not right.

So we need to be tough on ourselves or we'll get left behind! Simply put, we must keep our discipline, because our errors will eventually get punished. No matter how tough you are, the best always box clever as well as being uncompromising, so we must combine both qualities.

On a personal note, my rib injury is nothing serious and I will hopefully be able to join up with the national squad for training, once I'm passed fit by the medical staff.

There was consternation this week in the changing room. The committee which oversees the punishments handed out to players was given a vote of no-confidence by the squad, and I can't say I didn't see it coming.

Heaslip and Sexton went power hungry and couldn't be controlled. There was talk of a tribunal being set up to investigate some allegations made that Eoin O'Malley managed to sweet-talk his way out of a punishment due to his close personal relationship with both committee members.

An absolutely heinous crime! I will keep you updated on the findings of that tribunal, if it's set up, and also on the results of the re-election of the committee. About time if you ask me!

We play at the Sportsground in Galway this week, which is always a very tough place to go because of the passionate supporters and an in-form Connacht team who are off the back of a good win in the Challenge Cup against Bayonne.

Our record in the Sportsground has been very poor over the last few seasons, and it's been a big motivating factor for us this week.

Also, it's seventh versus eighth and a local derby, which is always easy to get up for no matter what sport you play.

The stakes are high again, and interpro' matches have that added bit of spice to them so it should make for a very interesting encounter.

Hopefully, we can maintain the momentum gained in the last few weeks whilst improving on those areas we've identified as needing improvement.

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