Post-coital Bliss

Although Whiff of Cordite is physically split between Dublin and (Ooooh) Bath, one day out from THE game, we are of one mind on our musings:

The half-time turnaround is obviously the key – what happened? We think Dylan Hartley’s injury had a huge effect on the Northampton team. We can envisage a half-time dressing room of few words and few stepping forward to plan a close-out of a match all-but-won as Hartley received treatment. This is in contrast to the Leinster dressing room, where BOD himself alluded to the leadership being shown by Jonny Sexton, no doubt in addition to O’Driscoll himself, plus Cullen, Heaslip, Horgan and Reddan, amongst others. The Saints looked unsure of themselves from from the start of the second half.

As soon as Leinster got the first score, you got a sense the tide had turned irrevocably. From the 41st minute on, it was the Saints who were falling off tackles, whose set-piece was crumbling, and with none of the bloody resistance that had done for Ulster. Perhaps the inevitability was felt by the Northampton players as well – they themselves were on the other end of an eerily similar game just 2 weeks ago – how the Leeds players must have felt is an interesting question.

The Leinster selection was wrong. All year, Joe has picked on form, not reputation, and has reaped the benefits, building a much deeper squad throughout the season. Fitzgerald was again poor yesterday, falling off several tackles (notably against Foden in the 67th minute) and not showing much in attack – McFadden should have started. The McLaughlin/Jennings call was more marginal, and form was less of a factor – but with Jennings in place, the back-row looked much better balanced. Also, Locky’s first-half scrummaging was poor – Mike Ross will not have been amused with his detachment. In the second half, the Leinster 8 got the shove on straight away, helped by everyone muscling in.

Whiff Of Cordite had a huge amount of respect for Northampton as a club and a team before this game, and has even more after it. The daring nature of the Northampton gameplan was uber-refreshing, and the team literally gave it all. The post-match actions of the team, led by captain and coach, of staying on the field for as long as Leinster did showed huge respect, and will hopefully give these guys the hunger to scale the peak themselves. The experience of yesterday will stand to this team, and we suspect there will be many more titanic battles between these 2 sides in the near future.

And finally, the referee was excellent. Romain Poite has received a fair degree of heat from the Irish media, but Whiff of Cordite has only praise for his display. The stronger team in the scrum was consistently rewarded with penalties, and his positioning for the Dorce non-try was perfect, as was his reversion upstairs just in case. One very slght caveat – Barnesy made an argument in commentary for a possible penalty try for a bat-down with 3 outside during the advantage being played for Dowson’s yellow, but he went back for the original offence. Maybe WoC’s hero in Tara Street will give him the, eh, credit he is due.

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3 Comments

  1. Eesh, can't agree on Poite.His refereeing of the scrum was – in just the ways we've come to expect, awful. He penalises the side going backwards no matter is causing it to happen – in this case the combination of Hartley standing up and Mujati – as well as his temporary replacement – driving at frankly ludicrous angles. Watching again on telly, it's even more obvious than it was in the stadium – the overhead cam is particularly damning.As always, too, he allowed the crowd to get on his back. Worked out well for us in the second half, but he's flimsy and entirely concerned with preserving his own assessment average. Farcical to think he's going to the RWC, and Lewie is staying at home…Far too often crap refs get away with it since winners are magnanimous, and losers' complaints come across as sour grapes or excuses. So let's not allow him the excuse of magnanimity – he let Northampton score three tries from hilariously illegal scrums in the first half, then capitulated totally to Leinster's buoyancy in the second.Wretched stuff.

  2. one small thing – I think Hartley's "injury" was not accidental – look at his eye and the dazed look when he got up from his try. Methinks he got a slap!! (rightly so too ;-))

  3. @Toro toro – thanks very much for the comment, especially the analysis of the scrum.  For sure, Poite let Hartley and Tonga'uiha away with some dark arts at scrum time, and plenty of refs wouldn't have stood for it. But forewarned is forearmed, and everyone on the pitch would surely have known what to expect from him: if your scrum is going forward, he will reward you.  Feek, Ross and Healy addressed the issues at half time, and worked out what they needed to do to stop Northampton getting under them, and it worked. As for allowing the crowd to get on his back, I just don't think that's Poite at all.  This is the man who has earned a reputation for refusing to let the Thomond Park crowd bully him into home town decisions.  Northampton became ragged in the second half and their discipline (not their best suit) deteriorated – I don't think they could complain about the penalty count.  His refereeing around the breakdown was fair – hell, he even patrolled the offside line once or twice!@Andrew – an interesting theory which hadn't occurred to us!  We'll consult the recording of the game tonight and see if we get the same feeling…

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