Belfast Telegraph

Leinster home in on May double despite heavy loss in Galway


By David Kelly

As it happened, Leinster didn't even need the solitary match point required to guarantee a home semi-final.

It's just as well, because, in fairness to Leinster, their abject shadow side made a sporting fist of coughing up the 126-point swing required for Scarlets to pip them in a 47-10 defeat at the hands of Connacht in Galway.

"I don't know if the players were trying to make me anxious in the coaching box or what," mused a bemused coach Leo Cullen after the romp.

Nonetheless, Leinster have bought a weekend off before their Champions Cup final in Bilbao as they now take the direct route to a home Guinness PRO14 semi-final.

On the basis of this evidence many of these players have earned the time off.

Few will enter the thoughts of the Leinster brains trust ahead of the European decider either; if this was billed as the perfect audition, too many fluffed their lines.

Leinster's squad to tackle Racing 92 will be a formidable combination and the gap between them and the rest may have been quite more significant than we had suspected.

"It was hard to pick many positives out of that to tell you the truth," said Cullen. "Slim pickings."

Jordi Murphy, slated to bench, was a late withdrawal after feeling "tightness" en route to the venue; the rest of his colleagues were seemingly gripped by a violent form of travel sickness.

There is a bigger picture. Connacht's season is over, Leinster are chasing a May double.

"Very few teams are capable of doing it in two competitions. That's one of the things we have discussed as a club, how to do that, understanding the challenges of it," Cullen added.

"We've gone a step further this season. It's hugely exciting. It's not exciting right now as there are a lot of things going through my mind about this game.

"But when May comes, these are the games we want to be involved in."

Belfast Telegraph


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