Sunday 18 February 2018

Dempsey demands more clinical approach from 'improving' Blues

Girvan Dempsey: believes in players
Girvan Dempsey: believes in players
David Kelly

David Kelly

When someone is trying to clamber from a fast-flowing river, their anxious attempts to emerge can be hampered should they step on slippery stones beneath the water level.

Leinster may be struggling to stay afloat in Europe but they must caution against trying too hard to engineer a recovery or else they may slither below the surface once more.

So it was last Friday. Leinster plugged the many leaking defensive holes exposed in their opening pair of European defeats; now they must renew their efforts to convert at the other end. They were guilty of trying too hard.

One chance snaffled from eight legitimate scoring attempts may have ultimately proved enough for victory against a lacklustre Ulster but, with champions Glasgow, a double date with Toulon and an away derby against Munster looming this month, attack and defence must dovetail better.

"We highlighted our defence after the European games and we showed that we had made good strides in that area," said assistant coach Girvan Dempsey, whose primary responsibility is to help his team score tries, not concede them.

"In our attack, we highlighted how frustrating it was; we had seven or eight entries into the Ulster 22 but unfortunately we only came away with one score from that lineout maul.

"So that's an area now we need to focus on and become much more clinical in terms of taking chances. When we get ourselves in good field position, we have to put the opposition under pressure in terms of taking points and scores.

"We got held up over the line twice and knocked on at the line once. If we take even one of those opportunities, then it becomes a different game. They will be under pressure and the game will suddenly open up.

"But with the game at 8-3, they feel they're still in it and it goes right to the end. It becomes a tough game and then you end up putting pressure on yourselves. Week on week, we're improving.

"We were disappointed in Europe obviously, bitterly disappointed. We knew that wasn't good enough, our standards weren't there but we've addressed those areas and we feel that we are making strides there now."

Dempsey knows what was missing in terms of amending what was a pretty inefficient conversion rate for this level of competition ahead of a season-defining month.

"Being smart when we get into those areas and being clinical," he insisted. "And what I mean is having a clear picture of just what it takes to break down the opposition defence in those areas.

"We tended to split our resources and not really challenge the defence, by either dragging them or putting them into an area where we can exploit space or opportunities somewhere else. We just didn't do that collectively as a team."

Jonathan Sexton took another heavy knock on Friday but remains typically robust and will be keen to play this weekend despite potential IRFU obstacles; Dempsey has been enthused at his erstwhile team-mate's form.

"You really look at his game last weekend and I thought he played really well. He says himself there were two kicks which he wasn't pleased with.

"Outside of that, you look at his double effort in defence, he had some fantastic cover efforts. Some of his trademark plays and some of his running lines and his passing were excellent. He's bubbling away. He's getting back into it. He's enjoying it. I think he's improving week-on-week."

Irish Independent

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