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BOD makes the difference


Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll is congratulated by team-mates Fergus McFadden and Rob Kearney. Photo: Brendan Moran/ Sportsfile

Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll is congratulated by team-mates Fergus McFadden and Rob Kearney. Photo: Brendan Moran/ Sportsfile

Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll is congratulated by team-mates Fergus McFadden and Rob Kearney. Photo: Brendan Moran/ Sportsfile

MAYBE Ian Madigan is right. Maybe the old man "writes his own script" as Brian O'Driscoll intervened to provide the difference between Leinster and Munster (22-18) with his first PRO12 try of the season.

The painful reality is that the talismanic centre took a battering blow that shook his senses to place in jeopardy his participation against Toulon in the Heineken Cup quarter-final this Sunday.

He looked unsteady, to say the least, as he departed the Aviva Stadium with team doctor Arthur Tanner at his side to yet another standing ovation on his farewell tour.

The concern over what coach Matt O'Connor listed as a blow to the "neck" for O'Driscoll and "cramp" for Mike Ross is heightened, at least outside the camp, by the damage it could do to Leinster's plans.

For all that, O'Connor could be able to add Cian Healy, Jack McGrath and Martin Moore to the front row options and Rhys Ruddock to the back row permutation.

However, Leinster without O'Driscoll and Ross would be akin to a Top-100 book of nursery rhymes without 'Jack and Jill'. It simply will be incomplete.

Away from the cloak and dagger business of fitness and injury, O'Connor saw Munster as a proper lead-in to what Leinster can expect from the Heineken Cup holders.

"The defensive effort was massive," he said.

"We didn't have to do that much of it which probably helped us in that, when we did, it was pretty ferocious and pretty intense, which is going to be huge next week.

"They (Toulon) will come at us and they will be very, very direct. It was a bit of a statement for us and we spoke about that. We needed to make sure that we were rock solid defensively because Toulon will hurt you all over the field.

"The intensity is exactly what you need going into a game of that magnitude. There are things to fix. We'll look at it with a very critical eye and make sure that we are exactly where we need to be next Sunday.


"They'll hurt you if you get it wrong, but they will be bigger than Munster," he stressed.

"They will be very, very competent at set-pieces and they will back themselves to bully us. We've got to make sure we meet that challenge head on and that we get parity there.

"You have got to make sure that, in those 50/50s, you are on the right side of the ledger. (Jonny) Wilkinson will kick all of his goals. They have (Mathieu) Bastareaud, world class blokes all over the field. If you're inaccurate in any aspect you'll get hurt, that'll be our challenge."

In hindsight, maybe Munster's Six Nations grievances weren't all overblown resentment, and smoke and mirrors for the media. They hit the ground and Leinster running on Saturday evening.

As usual, the truth is neither there, in Limerick, nor here, in Dublin. You use what you can, how you can to make men go to war for the colour of a jersey, not just a country.

There was passion all around, perhaps fuelled by the pyrotechnic pre-match show, borrowed, like everything else, from the Super-15, to generate an atmosphere to rival anything in the Six Nations.

It was the adrenaline of the moment that pushed Ian Madigan, Ian Keatley, Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan to put the ball out on the full early on as Munster deservedly built a 9-0 lead by the 22nd minute; 12-3 by the 30th.

From there, Leinster cut down the mistakes, got speed into their ruck ball and service from Reddan. The points began to come steadily.

When Leinster figured out there would be no hometown help from referee Alain Rolland at the ruck, they simply decided to clear bodies out of the ruck – come what may – and the ball started to come back cleanly and quickly.

"It was a lead that was whittled away too quickly," reflected Munster coach Rob Penney.

"They out-cuted us. There were a couple of instances where our players were held at the back of the breakdown. We got pinged though they can't move when they're being penned in.

"But that's just great cuteness on Leinster's part. That's stuff we have to get better at defusing and learning some tricks of the trade ourselves."

Eventually, the pendulum of the contest swung definitively towards Leinster when O'Driscoll latched on to a pop-up pass from Shane Jennings for the only try of the game in the 57th minute.

"There's a lot of people who had good games without probably having the couple of stand-out moments that you need from individuals like you saw again with Brian O'Driscoll," said Penney.

"He does special things that make you say: 'Wow!' He's still got it and he's still so desperately keen to play for the blue jersey, and doing a great job."

It is this X factor Leinster really need in Toulon and it is that desperation that will almost definitely ensure he will walk out at Stade Felix Mayol.