Matt O'Connor: The match became a circus after red card
Published 17/01/2014 | 23:48
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor was pleased his side were able to negotiate the "circus" of a red card, penalty tries and uncontested scrums during their 36-3 Heineken Cup victory at home to the Ospreys.
The Pool One winners picked up two penalty tries during the round-six clash at the RDS as the 14-man Ospreys, hampered by second row Ian Evans' red card in the 20th minute, suffered their fifth European defeat of the season.
Man-of-the-match Cian Healy and replacements Jordi Murphy and Isaac Boss also touched down for Leinster, whose hopes of gaining a home draw in the quarter-finals hinge on other pool results over the weekend.
"The result did (go the way we wanted). There wasn't too much disappointment about the performance. Once the red card was given it turned into a little bit of a circus," O'Connor said.
"The circus didn't impact on our ability to score tries, but it certainly changed the intensity of the contest and took away a bit of the structure we were trying to bring into the game, but you can't do much about that."
The "circus" centred around Evans' dismissal by referee Romain Poite for stamping on the head of a grounded Mike McCarthy during a first-half Ospreys maul.
O'Connor's side had a short build-up to this game, having beaten Castres away last Sunday, and the Australian said the gap between rounds five and six was tough on his charges.
"There was a red card, there were uncontested scrums, there was 14 blokes on the field, there were the penalty tries," he said. "It was all over the show, but I think the scheduling of it has to be looked at.
"The five-day turnaround doesn't help in relation to professional athletes performing and preparing as well as they can for a game of that magnitude."
Before the Ospreys encounter, Leinster would have faced Toulouse away at the quarter-final stage.
O'Connor said he would not be too thrilled going to Toulouse, but will await the rest of the weekend's European action.
He added: "I wouldn't enjoy it too much. They are a great side. They have great European pedigree and their squad is full of French internationals. It is a tough ask.
"They showed that against Saracens at the weekend. They might not be at their best at the moment, but they are still incredibly tough to break down and beat in France."
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said Evans' dismissal was a decisive incident, but was unsure whether French referee Poite made the correct decision.
"We're not sure., like a lot of observers. Perhaps in some ways as a forward pack, we were reckless there in terms of going forward and tried to deal with something," he said.
"It has taken a lot of replays (with the TMO), five or six, to make a decision and I don't know if it was that clear and obvious. It was clearly a swing in terms of the game and momentum."
The Ospreys, who were level with Leinster at that point at 3-3, fought bravely to keep the hosts at bay and there was a spell of uncontested scrums as they looked to minimise the loss of Evans and injuries to Ryan Jones and hookers Richard Hibbard and Scott Baldwin.
"We were (in the game)," Tandy added. "I thought Leinster were dangerous from the off, though, great tempo and they did have us stretched. We were scrambling around, but created a couple of good moments.
"We often have those ding-dong moments with Leinster where we hang in there and then as the game goes on they capitalise. And a few injuries as well, what could go wrong, did go wrong. We can't take away from the fact we were playing a quality side and they put us to the sword."