Friday 25 May 2018

Leinster under extra pressure to perform against Reds – McLaughlin

Leinster were humiliated by Connacht last Friday and are leaking tries at an alarming rate.
Leinster were humiliated by Connacht last Friday and are leaking tries at an alarming rate.

David Kelly and Ruaidhri O'Connor

AS TICKETS for Saturday's Pro12 derby at the Aviva Stadium sell at a rate of 1,000 per day, Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin concedes that the European champions are low on confidence ahead of Munster's visit and are under pressure to win.

Leinster were humiliated by Connacht last Friday and are leaking tries at an alarming rate, but blind-side McLaughlin believes they can find the right response in front of what could be a record crowd for a Pro12 league encounter.

The current biggest crowd of 50,645 was set when the teams met at the same venue two years ago, while 48,365 attended last year's game.

Despite both sides struggling for form, the first big rugby occasion of the season has captured the imagination of the public, with the stadium expected to come close to housing its 51,700 capacity.

Leinster have held the ascendancy in recent times, having lifted three Heineken Cup titles in the last four seasons, while Munster are still trying to break their Aviva Stadium duck, having lost on their two visits to the venue

RIVALS

Indeed, the Reds have lost seven of their last nine games to their bitter rivals in blue, but McLaughlin warned against using that as a formguide.

"They're always once-offs," the 28-year-old said. "We always look at the Munster games as cup finals -- that's the intensity that they're played at. It is going to be an incredible atmosphere. We always want to reward our fans, that adds an element of extra pressure.

"One defeat and the camp is kind of feeling it, there's a gloominess around and the confidence does take a bit of a hit.

"When you see a team, so successful the last two seasons, getting thumped away to Connacht and Llanelli, conceding a huge number of tries it's easy to say 'what's happening?'

"But within the camp there is a lot of confidence that we can dig our way out. While we feel we've let ourselves down, we're in control of getting back on track."

A limited number of tickets for this Saturday's clash are still available from €20 for adults, €10 for children and €50 for a family of four.

Irish Independent

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