Sunday 25 June 2017

'That wasn't up to Leinster standard' - Conan

Ulster 17 Leinster 13

Conan:
Conan: "We can’t change our mindset from game to game.” Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

In most people's eyes, Saturday's outing against Ulster was a nothing match for Leinster who travelled north knowing their home semi-final was already secured and with a clear two-week run-in ahead.

They lost as Ravenhill said goodbye to Ruan Pienaar but if you thought the visitors wouldn't be too bothered about a dead-rubber defeat, you should have taken a look at crestfallen Jack Conan's face when he came into the media room a half an hour after full-time.

Rhys Ruddock of Leinster is tackled by Stuart McCloskey of Ulster. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Rhys Ruddock of Leinster is tackled by Stuart McCloskey of Ulster. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Instead of taking the easy road of brushing it off and talking about taking the 'learnings', the No 8 fronted up and took plenty of responsibility on his own shoulders as he opened a window into what will be a scathing review when the players next come together to begin preparing for their Guinness PRO12 semi-final against Scarlets.

"I'm pretty gutted to be honest with you. Personally, it was my 50th cap and I wanted to go out there and have a good one, not a day to forget," he said.

"I'm annoyed at myself and my performance. It's not up to the standard of Leinster Rugby or myself, that I'd like to think I live by so I'm sure there'll be some harsh words come Monday morning.

"That's rugby, we'll get to go again in two weeks and hopefully I get the chance to right a few wrongs against the Scarlets.

Andrew Trimble of Ulster is tackled by Tadhg Furlong, left, and Jack Conan of Leinster. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Andrew Trimble of Ulster is tackled by Tadhg Furlong, left, and Jack Conan of Leinster. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"I know the lads are gutted, this same fixture last year we came up here and they beat us heavily. We came here to fix that and we didn't, so it probably hurts twice as much."

Twilight

Most fans would forgive Leinster this defeat, their first in 11 PRO12 games. After losing last month's Champions Cup semi-final to Clermont Auvergne, they were effectively left in a seasonal twilight zone ahead of the RDS play-off on Friday week.

"We can't use that as an excuse, we can't change our mindset from game to game," Conan (right) said.

"It does come quick and fast, it is thick at times... to get up for those games is very difficult but that can't be an excuse for under-performing.

Jack McGrath of Leinster is tackled by Robbie Diack and Rob Herring of Ulster. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Jack McGrath of Leinster is tackled by Robbie Diack and Rob Herring of Ulster. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

"You can't want it one week and then switch off, come out and put in a sub-par performance and let a team roll you over because you want it that bit more.

"That's not good enough. Maybe for other sides that's fine, but that's not the way we conduct ourselves; it's definitely not the way we train and I know Stuart (Lancaster), Leo (Cullen), Fogs (John Fogarty) and Girv (Dempsey) were bitterly disappointed.

"They had a few choice words at half-time. I'm not looking forward to going in on Monday now and having to look at that again because there will be some people picked out for mistakes they made - myself included, I'd a few turnovers that let them into the game - it's just not good enough."

The way Conan paints it, the video analysis session will leave no hiding places.

"Absolutely, we're big boys," he said.

Stuart McCloskey of Ulster is tackled by Garry Ringrose of Leinster. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Stuart McCloskey of Ulster is tackled by Garry Ringrose of Leinster. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"We're not going to go in there and pat each other on the back and tell each other we'd a good game when we came out and massively under-performed.

"We're bitterly disappointed come 80 minutes, it doesn't matter if it was your first cap or your 50th or your 100th for Leinster; if you made mistakes today and let them into the game and cost us opportunities you're going to hear about it Monday.

"You've got to take it on the chin, it's not a personal attack on anyone, it's to make the environment and the team better.

"We'll learn from this, the despair drives the desire and in two weeks' time we'll get to right this wrong."

The fluency that has made Leinster so good to watch in recent times deserted them at Kingspan Stadium as they failed to score a try from open play and conceded two to a fired-up Ulster side.

Joey Carbery struggled on his return to the out-half jersey, with Pienaar teeing up a try for Andrew Trimble after the other departee Roger Wilson powered over in the first-half.

They reduced an 11-point gap to make it a four-point game after Cian Healy made a big impact off the bench and they forced a penalty try, but they couldn't manage another score and left Belfast bitterly disappointed.

They will look to channel that emotion into the Scarlets game, but Conan said that using the hurt will not be enough as they look to right the wrongs of this performance.

Propel

"We're going to learn from it, we'll definitely be better for it but it doesn't make sitting here now any easier," the No 8 said. "We'll have to go back to the drawing board and use this to propel us forward for the rest of the season.

"It's one of those things though, you can't let a grudge get you over the line; you can't be going: 'We lost to these lads, we need to beat them this time.'

"We need to be at our best every day and that just wasn't the case today.

"It is bitterly disappointing, especially come the business end of the season to have such a poor performance all round.

"I think some of the lads did very well at times, but it just wasn't consistent enough. It definitely wasn't the Leinster standard."

ULSTER - C Gilroy (J Stockdale 48); A Trimble (capt), L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Piutau (P Nelson 58); P Jackson, R Pienaar (P Marshall 69); A Warwick (K McCall 67), R Herring (J Andrew 76), R Ah You (R Lutton 31); K Treadwell (N Timoney 68), A O'Connor; R Diack, S Reidy (C Henry 53-59), R Wilson (C Henry 63).

LEINSTER - I Nacewa (capt); A Byrne, G Ringrose, N Reid (R O'Loughlin 73, F McFadden; J Carbery, L McGrath (J Gibson-Park 64); J McGrath (C Healy 57), J Tracy (R Strauss 57), T Furlong (A Porter 67); D Toner, H Triggs (R Molony 57); R Ruddock, J van der Flier (D Leavy 57), J Conan.

Ref - A Brace (IRFU)

 

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