Time To Look In The Mirror

If Ulster fans left the RDS depressed amid the repetition of the same traits that have hamstrung them for much of Mark Anscombe’s reign – an inability to score tries against an organized defence – it would have been made worse by the relief felt by Leinster fans given the balance of the play. That said, Leinster fans will be feeling a little empty on Sunday morning in spite of their win – their sheer ineptitude in the first half was stunning and their mistakes were off the chart. If anything, it was worse than the Embra game.

The first 33 minutes of the game felt like a culmination of a season of Leinster having Joe Schmidt trained out of them – the error count was horrendous, sky high, the likes of Eoin Reddan couldn’t pass the pill, accuracy levels were on the floor. It was the worst Leinster have looked in years. And yet – despite totally controlling the game, Ulster were only 3-0 up, and never really looked likely to break the Leinster defence down to score the try that would surely have led to a comfortable win.

The stabilisation point, ironically, came from yet more poor Leinster play – this time a rank leading elbow from Dorce, which deservedly had him cooling his heels on the sideline (there was quite a bit of niggle going on – much of it involving famously nice chap Andy Trimble for some reason). Suddenly, the psychology of the game switched – the pressure on Leinster to find their A game dissapated and the pressure switched to the Ulstermen to score a few points while he was in the bin. Nearly a quarter of that time was wasted on one scrum, and Ulster didn’t cross before half time. Leinster went in at half-time feeling a bit spritely at being ‘only’ 6-0 down despite playing like drains.

In the second half, Ulster continued to own the football, but Leinster began upping the urgency levels – rucks were contested a little more vigourously and the aggressive defensive line was beginning to force Ulster errors. The turning point came when you-know-who trying to takle NWJMB’s knees – not advisable under the best of circumstances, and especially not when the man-child was in this form. Drico sustained perhaps the last concussion of many in his career and was replaced by Ian Madigan. Shortly after, Wee PJ left the field and was replaced by James McKinney. The net effect was for Leinster to have someone ready to take the game by the scruff of the neck and Ulster went down a notch in the playmaking – and defensive – stakes.  This was the Ian Madigan that has been missing in action all season.  Could it be that with seemingly nothing to lose he was able to just relax and do his thing.  It’s rare in rugby for the man of the match to go to a reserve, but Madigan was indeed the game’s most influential player.

Aided and abetted by some serious beef off the bench, Leinster finally found their feet, and ten minutes of pressure culminated in Madser’s game-winning try. Even in Optimism Central BBC NI, the score was greeted, with nine minutes to go, as the “game-winning try”. The hole Madigan sauntered through was left there by Jared Payne, who, if this was an audition for some-bloke-called-Brian’s shirt, wouldn’t get a call-back. Bamm-Bamm will feel he is the best inside centre in the team and Darren Cave is easily a better fit outside him right now – if Payne really is an outside centre, he has yet to show it.

To say Ulster let Leinster out of jail would be an understatement – they had them in solitary confinement but accidently left the key lying around and Leinster strolled out of the prison whistling a tune. Anscombe will feel a tad uncomfortable this morning, and he should be – Ulster’s failing 12 months ago was an inability to make big plays in big games (Saints, Leinster) and that is still the case.

There have been a number of games this year in which Ulster have had countless visits to the opposition 22, and been made to pay for not converting enough of them into points.  The freak result at home to Glasgow earlier this season was one, and two more were the home games against Leicester and Montpellier in the Heineken Cup, which they won, but which nearly proved costly in terms of bonus points.  As a team they have the set pieces and forward oomph to dominate matches, but their struggles to score from close range have become the equivalent of getting the yips on the putting green.  Anscombe described them as lacking compusure in key situations, and that seems about right – but that’s as much on him as it is on the players. It feels like they force the issue – the missed touch with several penalties trying to eke out every last metre, when there really wasn’t any need to.

Leinster’s Schmidt Generation would have been much more clinical, and likely have been 15 points up and out of sight by half-time in a similar situation. Lofty standards, sure, but that’s what Humph is aspiring towards with Ulster – and rightly so. The rumour mill already abounds that his coach will be replaced by Neil Doak after next season – this may seem harsh, but unless Ulster’s failing in knockout games is rectified, it’s quite easy to argue that Anscombe has taken Ulster as far as he can and a new approach is needed.

As for Leinster, they’ll be glad to still be alive. It must not be forgotten that they provided the majority of the Six Nations team and a handul of their players were on the Lions tour too, so they’re most likely exhausted.  But it still looks as if Matt O’Connor is more Gary Ella than Joe Schmidt, and if anything performances seem to be getting worse by the week.  And yet he may just finish his first season with silverware.  I can think of a couple of provincial coaches who’d love to be in that position.

They will face a Glasgae side who won a great old-fashioned arm wrestle in a seething Scottish stadium (no, really) against Munster on Friday night. Leinster will see the final as a free play, but they’ll need to be a damn sight better than Saturday to deny the Warriors the win they felt they deserved in last years semi at the Oar Dee Esh. After 33 minutes, Leinster’s season seemed in tatters with performances reaching a nadir. Somehow, and again, Ulster let them off the hook – but it’s hard to know who has the bigger long-term worry.

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57 Comments

  1. Barry

     /  May 19, 2014

    DEcent analysis

    Based on that game its hard to see Glasgow being denied

  2. Yossarian

     /  May 19, 2014

    More Gary Ella than Joe Schmidt sums up Leinster this year. A player driven environment has papered over the cracks(something the 4 provinces are blessed with that we sometimes take for granted) But a coach should be adding 10/15% to the overall set up. We don’t seem to be getting that this year. 7th Cup in 7 years is a mark of the quality of the squad at MOC’s disposal.
    The lack of a game breaker has hurt Ulster(BOD has bailed out Leinster/Ireland countless times over the years when they struggled to make that break through) Perhaps Olding next season could provide that spark when patterns are failing. That said Anscombe could look to be more creative with the players at his disposal. In ways Nick Williams epitomises the failings of Ulster, Great against weak teams but less effective against the better sides.

  3. ORiordan

     /  May 19, 2014

    Yup, Ulster going through the phases in the opposition’s 22 only to give away the ball through a handling error or a penalty is depressingly familiar… I can see what they are trying to do… a one out runner trying to generate some quick ball… but the runners don’t come on with much pace and the back line moves get messed up all too frequently.

    Pienaar was very rusty. Missing touch from a penalty is a sin… but doing it three times in one game?

    Anscombe needs to take some blame for selection as well. How many times has that three quarter combination played together this season? Ulster’s most effective 12-13-15 combination has been Marshall, Cave, Payne so why experiment with something different in a Pro12 semi?

    A conspiracy theorist would claim that St Joe was in the background whispering suggestions about a Payne at 13 selection…

    • Wouldn’t be a crazy point – for regular season Pro12 games, the national coach can do that kind of thing, but does it apply for playoffs? Probably!

  4. There was something depressingly familiar about it all: 3 points return each for 20 minutes dominance at the start and 10 minutes 1-man advantage before the half? You can praise Leinster’s defence all you like, but we have to do better. On the bright side, NWJMB looked great and Gilroy looked promising in the full-back slot (to my eyes at least). The less said about the niggle between the teams the better.

    As an Ulster and West Brom fan (a long-time goal-shy team), I sometimes wonder why the fates have ordained such suffering for me…

    • Gilroy certainly had his best match of the season. Watching him and Madigan was a case of ‘Ahhhh, so this is why I was so excited about these players’. I’d almost forgotten how good they can be.

      • Twice though, he chose to keep the ball in hand when a pass would have Ulster, if not definitely in for a try, then with a damn good shout. I recall thinking “thank f*ck he didn’t pass that”.

  5. Before kick-off, Ulster must have been worried by that bench. O’Connor was accused of rope-a-dope tactics and hard to disagree. It won’t cut it against Glasgow though.

    Madigan was never MOTM but the irony of him bailing out O’Connor’s season was lost on nobody, not least the Munster boys on the RTE commentary, with Hook pleading for him to be selected to start and Keyes giving him the most loaded MOTM ever. The reality is that neither he nor Gopperth has fired this season. The notion that Gopperth is better or a better game manager doesn’t stand up to analysis: he butchered two try chances and almost cost us one with the blockdown.

    They are both good players who seem to be being hampered by the coach. Encouragingly, they seem to really enjoy playing together: they gel well and the body language is good. Should really have been combined more often. Still a chance in two weeks…

    • RTE do love nothing more than a loaded MOTM award, but on this occasion I thought it was merited. Sure, NWJMB had a massive 80 minutes and would also have been worthy. But let’s face it, Leinster won the game because Ian Madigan came on and changed the dynamic. However long he was on for, he was the most influential player in it. Sometimes you just need a handful of touches of the ball to be the key player in it.

      • curates_egg

         /  May 19, 2014

        Henderson and Toner both had blinders. For Leinster, Jennings put in a great shift too, as did Kearney and McFadden. For Ulster, Gilroy looked rejuvenated.

      • curates_egg

         /  May 19, 2014

        Forgot Diack. He was everywhere.

  6. Bowe Gathers

     /  May 19, 2014

    When your clearest cut try scoring opportunity was a charge down from Pienaar it’s hard to have any kind of sympathy for the team. When in the red zone we reverted to maddening one pass tackle antics that are basically a gift to organised defences. Lateral lateral lateral. I knew we had lost it with 20 to go: if you can’t win with 70% of the possession and territory when are you ever going to?

    Payne was suspect at 13, our scrum was creaking but aside from those flaws we couldn’t create anything. NWJMB, Gilroy and Calum Black were positives, PJ had a good game and we really missed him (why McKinney? WHY? Pienaar Marshall surely a better combo). It has to be said that this iteration of Ulster look increasingly unconvincing, and I wouldn’t feel aggrieved if Anscombe was given marching orders. Harrumph.

    • connachtexile

       /  May 19, 2014

      Agree with you. Would have preferred a Marshall/Pienaar combo.

  7. The irony of Madigan essentially rescuing MO’C’s first season in charge I find a little bit hard to take.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  May 19, 2014

      It was hilarious, I was screaming for him all game, then he comes on and wins it, beautiful.

      • The roar from the Leinster supporters, which started when he broke the line and reached a crescendo as he touched down, was fantastic!!!!!

        • MOC really is going down like a bucket of cold sick with the Leinster fans on this forum. I reckon if we could collate all LL’s contributions this season we could neatly track that descent from wariness, through concern, annoyance and dismay, to outright disgust 😉

          • scrumdog

             /  May 19, 2014

            I agree. O’Connor is absolutely not maintaining Leinster ‘total rugby’ style. only the defense has retained its standards based on their last game. Gopperth is a mediocre 10 and not a Heineken level out half. O’C has to stick with him because he brought him in.There’s likely worse yet to come when Leinster’s new scrum coach from the land of OZ arrives..we are all only too aware how infamous the ‘Wobblies’ are for their scrummaging prowess..bet the ARFU will be upset if Leinster have unearthed the only scrum coach in OZ..or their happy he’s off the payroll down under. Nucifora will be watched closely…mini Aussie invasion..why? Can you tell me there’s no indigenous scrum coach available in Ireland? I will take Kiwi rugby experts any day….but Aussie??

          • curates_egg

             /  May 19, 2014

            Schmidt brought Gopperth in. He was a good signing and has been a great second outhalf to have. The only problem is whatever the hell has gone wrong between O’Connor and Madigan.

          • At least Joe hasn’t forgotten him. See the following quote from thescore.ie, 19.05.2014:

            “The thing for Ian is he hasn’t had a lot of game time recently. I have had a really good discussion with him. He is going to come in and train with us, but he will go on the emerging tour and will give him and the likes of Ian Keatley time to get game time over there. We will still be keeping a close eye on that group.”

          • Very good spot my friend. So its not a surprise after all then? Do you have the link?

          • Wait – date issues – that’s after the announcement. Whoops

  8. Are Leinster becoming the rugby equivalent of George Graham’s Arsenal? Uninspiring to watch, but so defensively solid they only need one score to win a game.

    Sure we’re winning but when you’re used to attacking flair, ingenuous set plays, as well as defensive nous this brand of rugby just doesn’t sit right with the fans. I’m obviously delighted Leinster won and will be there on Saturday week but I can’t remember a season where we’ve been undefeated in the RDS but I’ve left so many games thinking about how awful the game was.

    I was convinced Ulster would stuff us before the game – desire and passion papering over their lack of creativity in their backline, but Leinster hung on, and hung on some more & actually made a number of clean line breaks only for atrocious handling or plain stupidity to undo the good work, then the Madigan sucker punch.

    Lovely try from a Leinster perspective but I’d be fuming as an Ulsterman – 3 missed tackles in that alone…

  9. Also, have to say how good were the travelling Ulster support? Sang their hearts out all game and thought it was a smashing touch when they gave BOD a standing ovation coming off. There’s been a few rumours of spitefulness building up in the stands both at RDS and Ravenhill previously but there definitely wasn’t any of that on Saturday.

    • The BOD ovation would have been hard to resist in any circumstances, but given that we were still leading, it looked like it might be his last action on a rugby pitch. I was less enamoured of the chanting of “Cheerio” as D’arcy was yellow-carded, regardless of the idiocy of his offence.

      • Rava

         /  May 19, 2014

        The “cheerio” thing has been around for years and is a bit of banter.

    • D6W

       /  May 19, 2014

      Can’t comment on what has been happening in Ravenhill lately, but there always is a great atmosphere at Leinster when Ulster come to town. The rivalry and banter between fans is good-natured, I have never witnessed or heard of anything untoward.

    • I was with a Leinster friend right in the middle of the Anglesea stand, and he told me that at one point I chanted down our section of the stand. Proudest moment ever.

  10. Even my husband who is a hardened Leinster supporter figures that it would be best for the game and for the Celtic League if Glasgow were to win this out. They put a lot of effort into this competition and they are playing the best (most exciting?) rugby around.. Alas, us poor auld Munster folk have to go away and lick our wounds, again. Hope Axel can restore some of the old Munster way and yet bring in some of the innovative back play that is needed to succeed in the game today. Hopefully its not a case of Eddie could have been the man to do it.

    • I don’t imagine your husband’s the only one. Personally I’m finding it hard to begrudge Matt O’Connor a Rabo title on the basis of our team’s performance this season. Am I being massively unfair to him? I don’t know.

  11. Sound Steve

     /  May 19, 2014

    Ulster fans seem to have a real sense of entitlement and I’m not quite sure where it has come from. Ulster played very well and the fact that they failed to score to score in that final quarter probably says more about Leinster’s D at that point, which was excellent in their own 22. Leinster may not be the force of old but their home record is excellent for a reason and a comeback was inevitable, given the experience they have to hand. I don’t think there’s any shame for Ulster in losing that match and I would argue that there has been clear improvement since Anscombe took over.

    One thing I took away from the game on Saturday was how redundant D’Arcy has become as an attacking force. His ability these days is confined purely to the contact area. Madigan looked electric in the 12 spot in comparison when he came on for BOD. As good in defence and at the breakdown as D’Arcy is, surely we should expect more from our national 12? I think any defensive frailties in Marshall (or possibly Madigan on Saturday’s evidence!!) will be ironed out with experience and I hope that Schmidt, with a 6N championship in the bag, feels he has enough credit in the bank to bed in a new 12.

    • Joe obviously agreed, considering D’Arcy isn’t flying to Argentina!

      D’Arcy has for me been a yo-yo for the last couple of years in terms of form. He was woeful in the Samoa game, then sparkling in the NZ game. Did alright in the 6N, but as you say, he’s probably more of a BOD-lite now in that he adds a little in his passing and in the tackle area (although in the land of giants he gets shown up, a certain M Bastareaud has shown more than once), but not much else attacking-wise.

    • I agree with you about D’arcy to a certain extent but don’t devalue the importance of watching the game from the sidelines and, with the help of the analysts, spotting a mis-alignment or mismatch, or where a player is running on empty. D’arcy hasn’t done much eye catching attacking work but he’s so damned effective in defence and in tight situations that he remains vital.

    • Sound Steve

       /  May 19, 2014

      I’m probably being a tad harsh as the midfield defence tends to look more solid with him in it and his work at the breakdown, particularly counter rucking, is very good and he fits Schmidt’s low-error rugby philosophy. I reject the notion that he should be kept in purely because a new 13 will be in place, for example, a D’Arcy/Henshaw midfield would be short on subtlety and distribution. Personally, after Saturday, I would love to see Madigan put on 5kgs and become a Giteau-style 12, with Henshaw acting as his Mortlock at 13. Fanciful perhaps.

      • Stevo

         /  May 19, 2014

        Not that fanciful, I think. Given that the main criticisms of Madigan since he became a genuine first-team contender have been his game management and kicking from hand, perhaps 12 is a good fit for him. We have an aversion in this country to players changing from what we view as their ‘natural’ position and sometimes I wish we could take a more Australian attitude, as they seem perfectly willing to move their backs around the place as required. Your example, Giteau, has played international rugby at 9, 10, 12 and 13! Adam Ashley-Cooper seems to rarely start two games in a row in the same shirt, and there are numerous other examples. Even the great Stephen Larkham played a bit of rugby at 12.

        • Stephen Larkham started his career as a full-back, and was only converted to 10 some years into his career by Bob Dwyer.

          • Sound Steve

             /  May 20, 2014

            True, I recall him scoring a brilliant try versus Scotland from full-back on what may have been his first cap.

  12. Colly Noonan

     /  May 19, 2014

    Won’t be happening for Madigan at 12 based on the selection for the tour to Argentina. He has regressed under Matt O’Connor which is a shame given his breakthrough last year.

  13. Negatives:
    – Scrum. Pretty shaky all day long, and not a huge amount of exposure to the incoming backup.
    – Penalties to touch, as ORiordan points out. Once is bad, but just about forgiveable. Anscombe publicly criticised PJ for missing two against Leinster in Ravenhill. Pienaar missed *three*. Ridiculous. So much territory just thrown away.
    – Redzone play, as mentioned by pretty much everyone. My pet hate of Ulster at the minute is that when we need to break the gainline in the red zone, not a single forward runs onto the ball.
    – Lack of capitalising on the yellow card. With D’Arcy off for 10 minutes, that Ulster backline should have torn Leinster to shreds.
    – Defense: I was sat behind the Ulster coaches, and poor aul Johnny Bell wasn’t having a good time (highlights included replaying one of Leinster’s breaks, and screaming aloud “Ah Besty, where are YOU going?!”). You felt the Leinster back three (+Madigan when he came on) were doing their damnedest drag their team into contention, as they all made significant breaks along with Devin Toner of all people. Each one was pretty shambolic in terms of metres conceded.
    – Bench: I thought Pienaar was being fairly laboured in the last few minutes, and Paul Marshall could probably have worked a little better with McKinney, and maybe dragging play from being lateral to having a bit of direction

    Positives:
    – Selection: I actually thought the selection was by and large a pretty good one, bar the bench and use thereof. For all the people bemoaning Luke Marshall being on the bench, his form recently simply hasn’t been that good, whereas Cave has been fairly sparkling when he’s played. Payne was lively in attack (but poor in defense). The wingers were lively as usual (although I sometimes wish Trimble would just back himself for the corner instead of *always* trying to step inside), and Gilroy was back to his twirling best. Hard to complain about the forwards, when they did the best they could what was essentially an all-Ireland pack.
    – A bunch of other things: General intensity (redzone aside), the fact we didn’t get anyone carded, ruck protection was generally a lot better than it had been (78th minute aside)

    Offensively, you have to wonder what’s going on with this Ulster team as opposed to the one that topped the table and was scoring tries regularly in important matches last season. I think our depth is still a key issue, but one which has signs of being resolved with the recruitment (although can we *please* get a decent backup openside) and guys like Olding, Scholes & co coming back from injury/putting their hands up.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  May 19, 2014

      Ulster need a ten who can play on the gainline in games where they are being shunted around up front,( PJ sitting deep is an issue never pointed out, but it cut down on Paynes space and time to hit gaps), or a Basteraud at 13 to give them front foot ball. I think they badly missed Nuck at 8, he and Diack would have given them a lot more go forward from a retreating scrum and aggressive Leinster D.

      • It’s a fair point about PJ sitting deep, but I thought a lot of our backplay was actually decent until McKinney came on and then tried a wraparound against SOB of all people.

        I think Nick would only have papered over the cracks, there clearly wasn’t a solid plan around “have x run onto the ball when we’re in their 22”, like there was in Welford Road for instance. Leinster’s D was exceptional, I have to say.

      • Sound Steve

         /  May 19, 2014

        Slow ball so play a flatter 10?? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  May 19, 2014

          How else are you going to beat a defence that has re aligned and is set?, you need to play closer to the gain line and have your runners and targets nearly receiving the ball on the gainline to put the D on the back foot. A ten sitting deep is no threat to anyone apart from his own 13 getting lined up from about 10 meters back to get smashed.

          • Sound Steve

             /  May 19, 2014

            Well if the 10 plays flat, he basically loses the option to kick so opposition wings can play flatter, packing the defence even more. Also, the 10 has much less time on the ball, putting much more pressure on his decision-making and increasing the chance of an error. I’d prefer to see the 10 a bit deeper so the wingers are kept honest and he has the option to kick for territory/kick behind the defence. I see your point that if he plays flat then any ball taken up will already be taken at the gainline but that’s what I’d see the 9 as for.

    • On a side note: My favourite moment of the match was Tommy Bowe and Church giving each other sheepish grins after the former punted a ball straight at the big man’s face.

      • Bobby T

         /  May 20, 2014

        Nah it had to be DJ Church lobbing the ball of Chris Henry’s head just before he got taken off…he looked delighted with himself….Henry not so much.

  14. SportingBench

     /  May 19, 2014

    It was a really strange decision to start Payne at 13 for a semi-final given he hasn’t convinced there defensively or in attack, yet. Also questions have to be asked of Anscombe about keeping Pienaar on. He looked out on his feet after the first half and that contributed to the general lack of zip when Ulster went forward with his poor passes and missed touches etc. I suppose with Jackson going off, removing Pienaar seemed a big call but not making a decision is as big a call. Rory Best didn’t seem match fit either, not surprisingly and really should have come out earlier.

    I know in the world of instant success there are understandable calls for Anscombe’s head after a season of near misses but there are two factors against this. If Anscombe is a good coach he’ll learn from this season just like the players should. Why should Ulster roll the dice and let some other team benefit from this learning. Of course at the end of next season if the same issues arise from the coaches then fine, he hasn’t learnt so he can go. Second, Ulster has a good nucleus of a squad developing with some obvious issues to address such as the red zone scoring issue. Some of the players forced into action due to recent injuries will be better options next season and others will return from long term injury. The coaching team have areas of strength to build on with some areas clearly to improve. This doesn’t seem the right moment to change tack and risk another season of bedding in and development when with a fair wind, the chances are Ulster could finally kick on. Remember it took Leinster a number of seasons of knocking at the door to finally push through from decent contenders to championship team and like Ulster, they had their own particular inter-provincial bogy team to dispense with on the way.

    It was a wonderful cameo from Madigan though. Surely he must be in the thoughts of both province and country for 12 rather than 10 given the other options we have there. And on that score, D’arcy was on fire at the start of the season but has really fallen off a cliff particularly defensively. I don’t think Ireland should be assuming he will be good enough for the WC in over a year’s time.

  15. D6W

     /  May 19, 2014

    “Leinster having Joe Schmidt trained out of them” is a great way to put it. I have never seen Leinster make so many handling errors in the 1st half. And Cronin throwing 2 crooked darts.If our scrum was not so dominant, we could have been severely punished.

    While our bench was the key difference in the game, it was not just Madigan. The changing of the front row shift did not weaken our scrum at all, while Ulster really had no-one to bring on that could shore things up.

    And at last we got a glimpse of the Madigan the Leinster fans know and love. We have not seen it for a while. Ironically it was at 12, where he has never convinced. Maybe having Sexton at 10 didn’t help, with all those looparounds where 12 is just the decoy runner? Actually, if he is not to play 10, I would like to see him have a go at 13, as on paper his skillset and physic indicates he is ideally suited.

    Two players who Joe has kept faith in despite the press and supporters constantly under-rating them, D. Kearney and McFadden, both had excellent games before they went off. Granted, Gilroy played well also, but it was clear to see what Joe sees in them when other contenders for their positions were on the field.

  16. Leinsterlion

     /  May 19, 2014

    I predicted we’d outforward them and MOCball our way to a win, as so it came to pass. And anyone wondering why I rate Diack and Madigan, prime example, both players had cracking games, PJ was as ordinary as Gopperth, overrated, when Pienaar isnt firing, neither is he, he’s just a conduit.
    And for the people calling out Darce, as much as I am a proponent of attacking play, the most basic requirement and most important is a sense of defensive positioning and ability to tackle and/or hit people. Darce does that and looked a lot more solid(when on the reverse) at 13 then Drico did.

  17. Len

     /  May 19, 2014

    MOC has Leinster playing a level of dross not seen since the dark days of deccie’s Ireland. In fact we’ve looked like deccie’s Ireland all season. Horrible performances but scraping wins with the odd good performance. Really thought at half time that we were done for. There was nowhere you could see a score coming from and the possibility of something to nil score line was a real possibility. Feel very sorry for Ulster they had all the play and still didn’t get the win. Mads at 12 could be a good option for next year.

  18. Andrew.

     /  May 20, 2014

    Madigan has the skill set to become a very good international out half, with the monsters playing in the centre now he does not have the build to be a top international centre. I would hate to see him go the same way as Hook and Healy where their versility worked against them nailing down a regular starting position.
    MOC has two fine outhalfs but through his management he has them playing less they the could be. That pair should have the backline humming, it should be a case of interchangeability not either or player.

  19. Fergal

     /  May 20, 2014

    Sour grapes I know but I still think it was a forward pass for Madigans try, nobody seems to be talking about it though so maybe im just seeing what I want to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0nqUUnnATs

    • It’s possible, that the ball travelled slightly forward due to momentum and not the direction it left Gopperth’s hands; therefore no forward pass according to the rule book.

  20. Bobby T

     /  May 20, 2014

    Was it just me or did the Ulster lads really not look that bothered after the game? There was big talk of this being a massive grudge match for them and their last chance at silverware possibly for a while with the departure of a few leaders but they just seemed to hve a little chat with the Leinster players and stroll off the pitch afterwards. If I had just thrown away a game that I has dominated for 50-60 minutes and it was my last chance to play for the season (or ever in a few cases) I think I would have been a little more dejected. Johann Muller was nearly beaming in his post match interview. Maybe they were in bits over it but they really weren’t letting it show if they were.

    • SportingBench

       /  May 20, 2014

      Hadn’t thought much of it before but I do remember thinking Muller looked like he’d won rather than an agonising lose. I wonder if part of Ulster’s problem is that they just don’t believe they can beat Leinster and therefore are not terribly disappointed with defeat.

  21. Nile100

     /  May 20, 2014

    Bobby T. I think that it’s the play off system. If you’re first after 22 games as we (ulster) were in 2013 and lose in your home(away) game play off, then you must feel cheated. But if you’re 4th i don’t think you can complain justifiably.

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