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Leinster have to play their way out of a corner

This has all the appearances of one of those no-win scenarios for Leinster with Chris Robshaw and Nick Evans neatly out of the way.

That would be to disregard the importance of the points on offer.

This is what they like to refer to as an eight-pointer, in terms of Pool Two, even a ten-pointer, in terms of the overall competition.

The very least Leinster will look for is to end these half-dozen matches as the winner out of a tasty quartet, made more interesting by Wasps' continued interest just behind the front two.

SOLDIERS

Beyond that, they just do not look like the sort of soldiers that will travel with the confidence of old to a French powerhouse like Toulon, Clermont or Toulouse in the quarter-final.

You take the points whatever way they come in this unforgiving game.

The exclusion of England captain Robshaw and fly-half general Evans removes leadership and narrows Harlequins vision of how to play the game.

Increasingly, Conor O'Shea and his forwards coach John Kingston will be tempted to turn back to what they must now see as their 'competitive advantage' from last Sunday at The Stoop.

The scrum was a lethal weapon from which they churned out the deadly points which, directly or indirectly, led to Leinster's downfall.

This is where The Blues' scrum coach Marco Caputo will have to earn his corn as Mike Ross, Jack McGrath and Seán Cronin plan a rebuttal of fact.

The importance of the hooker should not be overlooked in this three-man - heck, eight-man equation.

It is one thing to be able to scrummage. It is another to wear it as a badge of honour, like Rory Best.

Nowhere in the plaudits handed out to Cronin has there ever been any deep-felt recognition for his part as a battle-hardened scrummager.

This is his time for redemption every inch as much as Ross or McGrath.

If Leinster make good on their promise there, the back five forwards will feel the benefits with captain Jamie Heaslip able to play the ball from the base rather than shovel it out.

The umbilical connection between Heaslip and scrum-half was broken at The Stoop.

This had a domino effect on those outside with Jimmy Gopperth taking on the responsibility to turn loss-making ball into profit by having a cut.

The understanding of space is there. The accuracy to exploit it is not.

On more than one occasion, Leinster moved the ball wide with the inside men running diagonally and cramping the room towards the touchline.

They have to be more direct in every department, make the inches in tight at the set-piece and on the fringes before the metres can come further out

Verdict: Leinster


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