Friday 24 February 2017

Ian Madigan: Revenge and momentum on agenda in Newport

Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ian Madigan
Ian Madigan
Ian Madigan

On the same weekend that Leinster sealed their place in the last four of Europe, this weekend's opponents were doing the same - albeit in a different competition.

On the domestic front, it has been another season to forget for the Newport Gwent Dragons but heading into the final stages of the season, there is still plenty left to play for.

Languishing in ninth place of the league, on the face of it, there appears to be little left to play for, but their director of rugby Lyn Jones is likely to focus the remainder of the season on their European exploits.

A pulsating 23-18 win over their fiercest rivals Cardiff Blues set up a Challenge Cup semi-final clash with Edinburgh and Jones was quick to praise the character shown by his team.

"We've lots of young lads and the quarter-final was a big experience for them," he said.

"You saw at the start that they were trying too hard, freezing and making uncharacteristic errors.

"It's another learning curve and once you taste it and like it, you want more of it. Success breeds, it's wonderful.

"As a player and a coach I've been fortunate enough to be involved in these games and I am delighted that the young boys in our squad have felt that and sensed what an occasion it was."

That was last week and this weekend represents an altogether different challenge against play-off chasing and defending champions Leinster.

Matt O'Connor's side are bound to have one eye on Toulon but they know the importance of finishing an inconsistent Pro12 campaign on a high.

Ian Madigan is adamant that every game from here on in has to be treated as if it is a "knockout" for the Blues but he fully expects his side to thrive under that pressure.

"The way our season has panned out, we effectively have knockout games all the way through now," he said.

"Realistically, if we lose a league game we are not going to make the top four; that's just the way it is now unless a huge amount of results go our way.

"There's no doubt Leinster are suited to knockout games - this is our fifth European Cup semi-final in seven years.

Best

"We've also won the Pro12 twice in a row, got to the final the three years previous to that. Knockout games bring out the best of us."

The fact that the Dragons ended Leinster's proud unbeaten run at the RDS earlier this season still irks Madigan.

"I think we're in a really good place, we beat a very good Bath side who played particularly well on the day without playing to our full potential, that's something I take a huge amount of confidence from," he enthused.

"We're going over to Dragons this week to seek revenge after they beat us in the RDS two months ago to take away our 22-game winning streak there.

"We're focusing on that this week and trying to build momentum that would lead on to the Toulon game."

With Leinster on a mission and Dragons looking towards next week, revenge is very much on the cards.

Irish Independent

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