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Saturday 18 August 2018

We can't drop gear: Jennings

Ospreys perched to punish any slip in Blues standards

IN-FORM Leinster, who now stand third in the Magners League, can't afford to be complacent at present because the margin for error is minuscule.

If the Blues drop their standards a percentage point or two, they will be in for a rude awakening when fourth-placed Ospreys come to The RDS in the Magners League on Friday night to do what they did there in the final last May.

"If we take our eye off Ospreys, they will do a job on us. The last time they came over here, they won the League. It is something to look forward to," said Shane Jennings, who was captain for the night on Saturday against Connacht.



selections

More recently, the reigning champions restricted Leinster to a bonus point in defeat in a tussle between two selections light in star quality at the tail end of November.

"The Ospreys did a job on us over there a few weeks ago. We're up for a big, big game. They have a very good team, a very good squad," added Jennings.

"Whatever lads come over we know we are in for a tough game. Every game for us is big because we are fighting to get into those top four positions."

Thankfully, Leo Cullen, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy and Jamie Heaslip should all come back into the equation.

There is also positive news on the cut above the eye for Sean O'Brien, the player who has been a cut above the rest this season. The loose forward was forced from the field of play in the 13th minute of the 30-8 bonus-point trimming of Connacht on Saturday night. He should be fully repaired for Friday.

The appearance of the star-studded Ospreys, the return of Leinster's band of Irish brothers and the close proximity to Saturday week's Heineken Cup contest with Saracens should ensure another bumper crowd at The RDS.

It certainly will provide serious quick-fire contests as Leinster mount their two-pronged challenge to regain the Heineken Cup and the Magners League.

On this form, it would not be wise to wager against them. There is quality, depth, a bond and a spirit that will take some breaking by the best out there.

It is not just the penetrative all-court rugby they are playing, but the seamless manner in which players are able to move into and out of the team without undue effect on their overall structure and effectiveness.



LEVEL-HEADED

"We are pretty level-headed. As a group of players, I don't think we are too happy with the way we played for most of this game.

"There are a lot of frustrated heads, me included," stated Jennings on Saturday night.

"We didn't control the ball at all. We didn't look after it at the ruck. We got clear instructions from the ref and we didn't deal with it properly.

"I don't think the score-line showed the way the game was. They certainly had us under a lot of pressure and we were very, very rusty.

"We regrouped at half-time. We realised if we concentrated on the basics, if we got a bit of shape, if we got a bit of ball, we could do a bit of damage."

Connacht are right on the verge of something new and exciting. They just have to find the last yard of space, or in contact, to breach defences. It is all that stands between them and enough points to make all the difference.

There was a moment at the end of the first half that encapsulated the difference in attitude between Connacht and Leinster. With time on the clock, Connacht had a lineout in Leinster's half and out-half Miah Nikora chose to kick it out, instead of using the ball.



ANNOUNCED

Referee John Lacey announced there was still time for one more play. Leinster took this as a sign to have a go from a lineout inside their own half. It came to nothing. But it revealed everything.

"We are delighted with the win. We have to keep the ball rolling. We have momentum. We have to concentrate on next week and the big Heineken Cup games coming," said Jennings.

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