herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

One week to get it sorted

Schmidt won't hit panic button yet as sorry Leinster capitulate against bogey team Edinburgh

It doesn't get any worse than this. Defeat is one thing; disorganisation and disinterest other things altogether.

Coach Joe Schmidt looked on in dread as Leinster passively submitted 32-24 to Edinburgh, a club which started the night second-from-bottom in the Magners League.

"If you start pressing the panic button, everything turns to custard," reacted Schmidt.

"I take my hat off to Edinburgh. They were a little more desperate tonight. They had had three defeats in a row. They got on top and bullied us a little bit. It is something we are going to have to rebound from pretty quickly," he said.

There was no leadership, no unity of purpose, no organisation in defence and no Plan B when all of these basic qualities were marked absent as Edinburgh were propelled from a two-point deficit to a 10-point lead thanks to two tries in one minute and then on to a bonus-point by David Blair's sniping try on the hour.



Disaster

It was nothing short of a disaster. Leinster have now lost three out of four in the Magners with a merciless, moody Munster waiting for them at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday. Change has to happen at the speed of light.

"We've got eight days. We have got to work hard. We've got to roll our sleeves up and give an account of ourselves. We can, I guess, be more proud of next week," said Schmidt.

The spotlight will swing violently towards Schmidt. But, it would appear the pre-eminence of the IRFU's Player Welfare Programme and the failure of Leinster to replace former defence coach Kurt McQuilkin are key to their dismal form.

The late withdrawal of out-half Jonathan Sexton did little to smooth over the cracks in Leinster's six-day preparations for what has often been a graveyard venue for the Blues. Admittedly, it was also the stage on which they finally shed their Heineken Cup bridesmaid tag in the 2009 Heineken Cup final.

The wonderfully versatile Isa Nacewa, an inconsistent kicker, stepped up from the bench. It was not the start Schmidt would have wanted. Leinster captain Shane Jennings, in a burst of indiscipline, flew into the side of a ruck and Chris Paterson struck the penalty from 40m.

However, the immaculate Nacewa levelled it up from the left and shot Leinster into a 6-3 lead when openside Ross Rennie refused to release the tackled player in the 13th minute. Then, full-back Rob Kearney, on his 100th appearance for the province, blasted a penalty from well inside his own half to punish an infringement by Edinburgh's Mike Blair.

The Scotland scrum-half made amends when he put prop Geoff Cross under the posts with a sumptuous back-door pass. Paterson made it 10-9 from the unmissable conversion.

Hooker Ross Ford's anxious collaring of Eoin Reddan was judged to be offside. Nacewa nonchalantly struck from 48m to put Leinster back in the lead (12-10). They stayed there to the break, mainly because Dominic Ryan protected their advantage with a savage try-saving hit on Tim Visser.

Multiple errors reflected Leinster's lack of confidence. It wasn't helped with a blatant block by Scott Newlands on Nacewa, which allowed Visser to spin inside Shane Horgan's ineffective tackle for Edinburgh's second try in the 48th minute.

From the restart, a blistering counter attack from Paterson was temporarily halted by Kearney. When Leinster hit the panic button in defence, wing Mark Robertson sidled over for the third try. Paterson pierced the 700-point mark in the league with the conversion for a 22-12 gap.

The bonus-point arrived at the end of the third quarter when Mike Blair exploited rank concentration by Leinster to send his out-half brother David, selected in place of the injured Phil Godman, squirming out of the reach of Eoin Reddan. David Blair then converted for good measure.



Rouse

Number eight Jamie Heaslip, introduced in the second-half, did all he could to rouse his teammates by taking the ball on, benefiting from Luke Fitzgerald's elusiveness with a drive to the whitewash, and full-back Kearney finished the evening by sliding in at the corner.

Replacement Ian Madigan's touchline conversion attempt was not good enough to give Leinster a losing bonus-point they did not deserve.

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