Sport Leinster Rugby

Friday 9 December 2016

Keen to put the record straight against Ulster

Proud to finish top of table but still smarting from beating handed to us in Belfast

Mike Ross: Player Diary

Published 13/05/2016 | 02:30

Mike Ross. Photo: Sportsfile
Mike Ross. Photo: Sportsfile

With Ulster back on the agenda it was interesting to think back to the game in Kingspan two weeks back, its talking points and the aftermath. Training took place in a sombre mood on Monday, as you'd expect after a 30-6 loss.

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We'd been given a good lesson and it definitely didn't sit well with us. Two yellow cards and a penalty try didn't help, even if I felt the penalty try was debatable. Still though, it would have been preferable to not allow the situation to arise in the first place.

We were aiming for the best defence in the league, and in the last two rounds we have given up three tries a game which simply isn't good enough. Our defence has been one of our rocks this season, and it looked as if we'd beat the Guinness Pro12 defensive record for points conceded, if not tries conceded.

Kurt McQuilkin has been doing some sterling work, and he definitely wasn't a happy camper seeing his foundations eroded in that Ulster game, and then against Treviso.

Fortunately, we had an open session at the RDS to lift the spirits, and there was a great turnout. Afterwards, we signed autographs for a bit, and it's great and a little humbling to see how happy the kids were, and even some of the adults!

All of our focus was then on Treviso. They were hovering around the bottom of the table but had had a great win over Connacht the previous week, and looked to be coming into form.

There was also the added carrot of European qualification for the European Champions Cup if they finished ahead of fellow Italians Zebre. For ourselves, we knew that if we got five points we were guaranteed a home semi-final, and that was what we were aiming for.

When you're chasing four tries, you have to be very careful. You can't go out and just try to play Sevens rugby, as that can lead to looseness. You have to go out and try to build a lead, be accurate and the tries will come. In the end we did that, and then some, scoring eight tries which put us top of the table.

It put everyone in a good mood for the Awards Ball that night. It's usually a good evening out, and Saturday proved to be no exception.

As usual there are a few comings and goings, and as well as team stalwarts like Marty Moore, Aaron Dundon and Tom Denton moving on, Isaac Boss announced his retirement.

Bossy is an immensely popular member of the squad, and he'll be greatly missed. He's always in a good mood, and is one of the hardest working and most professional players in the squad. Bossy also did a huge amount of charity work for the like of LauraLynn, and was recognised for his efforts recently at the IRUPA awards dinner. With his departure, the changing-rooms will be a duller place.

Also moving on is Dan Tobin, our head of fitness. While generally I don't miss the torturers in chief when they go I think I might make an exception for Dan, who is top class, very meticulous and reads every scientific paper under the sun. Some conditioning coaches bring things in on very flimsy evidence, but Dan really researches his stuff, and we know that what we're doing isn't based on a whim, but on solid evidence.

He's been around since before I arrived at Leinster, and I'm personally gutted to see seven solid years of effort -being nice to him and laughing at his crap jokes - disappearing over to Gloucester!

Now our attention turns to the knock-out stages. While we scored eight tries against Treviso, unfortunately, we also let in three. It's really an area we have to be absolutely ruthless in, as we're into cup rugby now.

We're still smarting from the beating Ulster gave us up in the Kingspan Stadium, and we'll be fairly keen to put the record straight.

A home semi-final in a packed RDS is a great way of doing that, and it promises to be a great occasion. Neither side will want to give an inch, but hopefully home advantage coupled with a much improved performance will see us through.

Irish Independent

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