Sunday 22 April 2018

Jennings: Lots of work still to be done

Leinster flanker Shane Jennings will be leading his side into action against Treviso on Saturday
Leinster flanker Shane Jennings will be leading his side into action against Treviso on Saturday

Hugh Farrelly

AS comebacks go, this was pretty eventful. Shane Jennings' first competitive outing of the season included a brilliantly taken try, another touchdown that went a-begging, a stamp on the calf and a second-half wobble by Leinster before a stunning late revival and bonus-point victory over the Blues.

Handed the captaincy duties in Leo Cullen's injury-enforced absence, the flanker led from the front against Cardiff but says Leinster have much work to do before they travel to Treviso this weekend.

"Going into contact, we have to make sure that we're better and in defence we have to realise we have to look up a bit better and number off instead of looking into the ruck," said Jennings.

"If we get our spacings right there, I think we can back ourselves in defence. You saw individuals going into contact and losing the ball and not controlling it and giving opportunities for turnovers. They're the two main things we have to learn from."

With the calf injury not expected to affect the St Mary's man's availability for the trip to Italy, Jennings says Leinster must draw on the confidence gained from beating one of the league favourites when they take on a Treviso side that secured a surprise home win against the Scarlets on the opening weekend of league action.

Jennings faced the Italians twice in the Heineken Cup six years ago, helping Leinster win 25-9 in Treviso before scoring two tries in the rematch at Lansdowne Road when the home side romped home 57-17.

Treviso full-back Brendan Williams also played in those fixtures and the diminutive Aussie speedster is a player Jennings has a healthy respect for.

"Treviso are a good side," said Jennings. "From playing there before, it's always a very, very physical game, a very tough game. They're going to be targeting home games, so we're expecting a very, very tough game.

"You don't really know what teams are going to do. Granted, we have the experience of playing them and we know they're probably going to concentrate on their set-piece and they've got some dangerous backs.


"If you give guys like (Brendan) Williams, whether he plays full-back or wing, enough space he'll counter; you know he's going to do damage."

Although he could not hold onto possession when running onto what looked to be a scoring pass by Eoin Reddan in the second half against the Blues, Jennings had opened his account after only a couple of minutes when running a great line in support of Isaac Boss.

"It was about time I scored. I hadn't scored in donkey's and then Redser put me into a hole and I couldn't catch a cold. But it was a good break by Bossy and it was nice to finish it, hopefully there will be more," he said. "We've got to sharpen up a few things we did wrong but we can take a lot of positives, because that was a good Cardiff team and we're glad we got the win.

"But it's no good doing it just one week at home and then going away and not putting in a performance. We have to really concentrate on getting that win (in Treviso) because other teams are flying at the moment."

Connacht coach Eric Elwood had to cancel training yesterday because of of the extent of his injury list following last weekend's narrow defeat away to the Scarlets. As well as long-term injuries to skipper John Muldoon, flanker Johnny O'Connor, prop Robbie Morris and scrum-half Conor O'Loughlin there are also issues with Ray Ofisa (neck), Troy Nathan (shoulder), Niva Ta'auso (hand), Jamie Hagan (hamstring), Miah Nikora and Bernie Upton.

"The way it's going it could be a case of 'first 15 in grab a jersey', that's how bad it is," said Elwood.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh will be without second-row Esteban Lozada for Friday's clash with Ulster at Ravenhill but hope the Puma will be back in time for the Heineken Cup in October after he was released from hospital.

Elsewhere, controversial Wales and Ospreys centre Gavin Henson was yesterday reported to have agreed a deal with English Premiership side Wasps, to begin after he completes his commitments to TV show 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

However, Ospreys director of rugby Scott Johnson, currently helping the Welsh outfit prepare for their trip to Limerick for Saturday's clash with Munster, is calling on the Ospreys to force Henson to honour his contract.

"We respected his privacy and gave him what he needed, the time off he asked from the game, said Johnson.

"You agree to sign a contract, your employers have been nothing but careful with you, respectful of you and showed plenty of courtesy toward you. A contract is both ways."

Irish Independent

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