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Leinster Vs Agen

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    Leinster Vs Agen



    Irish Independent


    Leinster primed to power forward after Ravenhill test
    Tuesday December 5th 2006


    SOMETIMES needs must and on Saturday necessity was most definitely the mother of invention as Michael Cheika's Leinster prudently and effectively reverted to route one and a forward path to Ravenhill survival.


    In many ways it represented a plan of action alien to this group of players under the Australian since he took control.


    It is not that Cheika is against his side getting down and dirty, it is more a case of a coach looking to play to his undeniable strengths, which happens to be from nine to fifteen behind the scrum.


    The way Leinster go about their business is certainly easy on the eye, and equally is enjoyed by those central to it - the players. So much so that I would venture it played a hugely significant factor in securing skipper Brian O'Driscoll's future for what should prove the most productive years of his rugby career.


    Naturally any coach worth his salt will cut his cloth according to the talent at his disposal - after all it's players who make systems and not visa-versa. To that end the Leinster way makes for riveting rugby for both players and spectators alike. But there will always be times when even Leinster's all-singing, all-dancing backs must play second fiddle to the greater need of the team. Saturday night in Ravenhill was one such occasion.


    Here we had a Leinster side on the rack, one with undeniable problems in the pivotal out-half position, and facing almost certain defeat playing into the teeth of a Belfast blitz in the second half.


    That it was the Ulstermen hanging on for dear life at the final blast of Olan Trevor's whistle says it all about a second half Leinster performance steeped in guts and commonsense. With the Argentinian heartbeat of the side missing and when possession beyond the set piece is a liability in the conditions it is up to those numbered one to eight to take the initiative.


    Concern


    And from Ronnie McCormack to Jamie Heaslip, including Reggie Corrigan and Stephen Keogh, Leinster did just that. As a dress rehearsal for the make or break double-header against Agen, this fixture and the nature of it could scarcely have been better timed. The scrum continues to be an area of concern but between them Brian Blaney, Mal O'Kelly, Trevor Hogan and Owen Finnegan ensured the lineout battle went emphatically Leinster's way.


    The second half introduction of Corrigan and Keogh appeared to strengthen the forward intensity even more, with Keogh's ball-carrying ability made to measure for the conditions. Finnegan will more than likely get the nod at six for the visit of the French but it will be a close call. Given the injury problems either side of Blaney in the front row the return of the vastly experienced Corrigan is all but guaranteed.


    Beyond that the biggest call for Cheika and David Knox is at out-half. One cannot but have the greatest sympathy for Andy Dunne. As an immensely talented schoolboy his kicking out of hand was always a potential weakness once he entered the senior ranks. But his quick hands and speed off the mark have long made comparisons with Paul Dean accurate and fair. Right now this Leinster side needs something extra. Felipe Contepomi might not be in the Ronan O'Gara league as a game runner either but as an equal to O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy in the most creative midfield triumvirate about he is without peer.


    The alternative is Christian Warner and although he made little difference when called on board for Dunne in Belfast, I suspect he will provide the safer bet for Cheika and Knox in the team to face Agen. It is tough on Dunne because, like Paddy Wallace, there is much potential still to be fulfilled. Contepomi, Warner and Dunne

    #2


    Irish Independent





    Cheika with genuine grounds for concern ahead of battle with Agen
    Tuesday December 5th 2006


    AFTER their pitched battle in the Ravenhill maelstrom on Saturday night, Ulster and Leinster will this week attempt to get their Heineken Cup quarter-final ambitions back on track.


    Both sides suffered defeats last time out - Ulster caved in away to Llanelli and were lucky to get a bonus point while Leinster imploded in an almost empty Murrayfield against bogey team Edinburgh despite scoring three tries to one.


    This time last year, Leinster were also heading into a French double header having already lost one life; they then lost a second time, away to Bourgoin, before eventually securing a quarter-final berth with a bravura last-day display in Bath.


    "I had a good look at Agen - on tape as well as in the flesh when I went down to their ground earlier in the season - so we know they have some very talented players," says Leinster coach Michael Cheika.


    "They are very good and strong on the ground, they really attack the ball so it will be an interesting challenge for us to stay on our feet because once you are on the ground they are all over you.


    "They tend to get that turnover ball out wide pretty quick so we have to pounce on that early on. Their pack is a mix of foreign and top French players while they have a choice at No 10 between Francois Gelez and Jerome Miquel, all depending on what sort of game they want to play.


    "Their win at Gloucester in the last round shows they can play away from home and they ran the ball a fair bit at Kingsholm. Everyone knows what a threat wing Rupeni Caucaunibuca can be but they also have players like Luc Lafforgue and Pepito Elhorga who can be a danger with the ball in hand.


    "We will miss the injured Will Green and coping with their big pack at the set pieces will be a challenge, but in that respect it was the perfect hit-out for us in Belfast where I was really pleased with our scrum and line-out against a very good Ulster pack.


    "We lacked discipline against Edinburgh, gave away too many penalties and that cost us the game. We cannot afford that sort of indiscipline against Agen."


    Ulster's Aussie second-row Justin Harrison has demanded a win from their side's visit to the Madejski Stadium this Saturday - or else.


    "You're dreaming if you think that best-placed second will give you a sniff of the quarters," says Harrison. "European campaigns are built on the back of strong home performances and consistent away form. Ulster only have one of the two at the moment.


    "But for the team to progress into the quarters and exorcise the demons that it has carried since its flirtation with greatness in 1999, then an away win against London Irish is compulsory."


    David Kelly

    Comment


      #3
      I didn't see the Ladies game on sat. but was mightily impressed by the result.



      I thought Ulster would eat them up front.



      The result must be something to do with their Munster imports presumably [img]smileys/biggrin.gif[/img]


      Comment


        #4
        Is the Leinster FR not struggling with injury for the Agen game? Philly will also be a huge loss to them.

        Comment


          #5
          We should have won, totally dominated possession and territory but it was insanely hard to create anything and the Gringo defence was awesome.

          Comment


            #6


            Dan,


            What team selection do you expect to start against Agen?

            Comment


              #7
              Reggie, Blaney, Ronnie
              Mal, Hogan
              Keogh (Though could be Finnegan again[img]smileys/thumb-down.gif[/img]), Heaslip, Gleeson

              9. Whits
              10. Warner
              11. Hickie
              12. D'Arce
              13. BOD
              14. Horgan
              15. Girve

              Comment


                #8


                If Keogh and Hogan were still here Hogan would have Wyatt's place on the bench and Keogh would probaby be starting ahead of Quinnie. [img]smileys/sad.gif[/img]


                My computer thinks I'm gay
                What's the difference anyway
                When all the people do all day
                Is stare into a phone

                Comment


                  #9


                  The leinster scrum looked very, very weak. heaslip did well under alot of pressure last weekend. The ulster defence was excellent. For all their posession in the first half leinster could bare ly pick up 3 points, they were that good!


                  I reckon if leinster can livewith them in 75% of the set pieces they should win. Think warner is the better option at OH too.
                  Hi sham, gimme 2 pints of carling, a bottle of bud, and a vodka and orange for the burd

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Francois Gelez has pulled out of the Leinster games through injury. Agen expect to have him back on the 22nd for their match against Castres

                    Comment


                      #11


                      Agen areone of the weakest French sides. Leinster should be looking to win and win well.


                      My computer thinks I'm gay
                      What's the difference anyway
                      When all the people do all day
                      Is stare into a phone

                      Comment


                        #12

                        I wouldn't write them off too quickly. They beat Gloucester in Gloucester who, ok, aren't what they were a few years ago. Agen will be up for it though, thats for sure.

                        Comment


                          #13


                          If your facing into a side like Stade, Toulouse, Biarritzor USAP who have a pedigree in this competition and realistic aspirations to win it then yes its a huge challenge. Leinster were in there third HC semi last year and should be doing the business against these smaller sides quite comfortably if they have progressed at all.


                          My computer thinks I'm gay
                          What's the difference anyway
                          When all the people do all day
                          Is stare into a phone

                          Comment


                            #14


                            Originally posted by Max Headroom
                            Francois Gelez has pulled out of the Leinster games through injury. Agen expect to have him back on the 22nd for their match against Castres




                            That's good news for lovers of real rugby - Gelez is their kicking out half whereas Miquel is their running out half and has started in most of their games this season - his main job seems to involve passingthe ball to Cau-cau whenever possible!
                            New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.

                            Comment


                              #15


                              Miquel kicked everything when they played against edinburgh in the opening round.

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