Friday 19 January 2018

Matt O'Connor: Habana's interception was turning point

Bryan Habana, RC Toulon, acknowledges the crowd after his side's victory
Bryan Habana, RC Toulon, acknowledges the crowd after his side's victory

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor pointed to Bryan Habana's intercept try as "the turning point" for Toulon.

The Irish province could so easily have made their fourth final with fly-half Jimmy Gopperth's well struck late drop goal in regular time feet away from securing a final date with Clermont-Auvergne at Twickenham on May 2nd.

Instead, Toulon will continue their bid for an historic third straight title.

"It showed that we can compete against probably the best club side ever put together," said O'Connor.

Leinster will not be consoled by the manner or narrow margin of their loss over the stretch of 100 minutes of rugby.

They are champions in their own right and they showed the heart of Lions to take Toulon right down to the wire and the cruel afterlife of extra-time.

"It was a pretty impressive performance from us," said O'Connor. "I thought the boys gave everything they had. They're gutted. We led for large periods of the game.

"The effort that those 23 boys put in is an indicator of how much it means to play for Leinster."

The constant drizzle made proactive rugby a liability. They had to tailor their approach and they did with real zeal.


"It was the nature of the conditions. There were less opportunities. It was tough out there to play," he said.

"The defence dominated. It made it hard to put pass on pass and get the ball to the edges and to the space."

The Australian was free enough of the pre-match media bluff work to reveal how the bar-of-soap weather did not really change the Leinster game plan too much.

"We wanted to drive at them. We wanted to make their forwards work really hard and we wanted to try and break them down in the last 15 minutes.

"Ultimately, we weren't good enough to do that."

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