Tuesday 12 December 2017

'They played like a team that didn’t have Champions Cup experience'- Bernard Jackman on Leinster's loss to Toulon

Leinster’s Ben Te’o is held up by Toulon’s Mathieu Bastareaud during their Champions Cup clash at the Stade Felix Mayol
Leinster’s Ben Te’o is held up by Toulon’s Mathieu Bastareaud during their Champions Cup clash at the Stade Felix Mayol

Tom Rooney

Grenoble coach Bernard Jackman has said that his former club Leinster resembled Champions Cup rookies during their loss to Toulon last weekend.

The Blues, with whom Jackman won a Heineken Cup in 2009, suffered their third straight loss in the competition on Saturday at the Stade Felix Mayol when going down 24-9 to the three-in-a-row champions.

Although Leinster were trailing by just a point at half-time, the performance levels plummteted in the second period with a string of errors and a raft of poor discipline that saw Devon Toner and Tom Denton sent to the bin.

Cian Healy saw yellow in the first half for a knee on Guilhem Guirado and has subsequently been sited for the infraction.

In a game that Leinster conceded 17 penalties, were outfoxed at the breakdown and beaten by a Toulon outfit that were far from firing on all cylinders, the former hooker believes Leo Cullen’s charges played like newcomers to the European top-flight, as supposed to three time champions.

Bernard Jackman

“It was the kind of performance that mirrored teams that don’t have much experience in Europe,” Jackman said on Newstalk’s Off the Ball.

“When teams are playing in the Champions Cup for the first time, for example Exeter, they’ve come to terms with it now, but it’s taken two or three seasons of poor performances and learning as you go because it’s a really different environment.

“Leinster played like a team that didn’t have that Champions Cup experience, which was a surprising because there’s obviously a huge amount of experience throughout the side.”

The former Connacht player ventured that Leinster may have still been struggling to set aside the disappointed of losing to Bath and Wasps in their opening two Pool 5 games.

However, Jackman was adamant that such a disjointed display was never going to undo Toulon, who Leinster must navigate again at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, in an all but dead-rubber encounter.

“Whether they went into that game still in shock having lost the first two games, it’s hard to tell. Given the fact they were so undisciplined on the day, they were never going to beat a team of Toulon’s quality, although they weren’t at their best.

“Their scrum was better against Toulon than it had been, but their line-out malfunctioned and their passing accuracy wasn’t as sharp as it needs to be.

“They made too many handling errors, and we spoke about their discipline, so that’s three big fundamentals of any winning performance that let them down,” he said.

As Leinster unravelled it was abundantly clear, as it has been all season, that Johnny Sexton was unable to make a meaningful impact, yet Cullen stuck with the fly-half and Ian Madigan remained an unused replacement. It was a decision Jackman reckons his former teammate will contemplate in the coming days.

“The game was rapidly getting out of Leinster’s reach and you had to look at getting Madigan on the field somewhere; maybe alongside Sexton or replacing him.

“One of Madigan’s big strengths is his ability to attack the line and make that break or half break that gives that opportunity to get go forward. I think in hindsight, when they analyse their own decision-making during them game, they might spend time analysing if they made the correct call,” he said.

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