Monday 23 April 2018

'Frustrated' Lancaster eager for Leinster to get back on track

Senior coach Stuart Lancaster. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Senior coach Stuart Lancaster. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Considering that prior to last week, Leinster and Scarlets had each lost just two Guinness PRO14 games, the odds of both being beaten in Edinburgh and Treviso would have been sizeable.

The two best teams in Conference B suffered big upsets and the task doesn't get any easier tomorrow as the champions arrive in Dublin looking to repeat their heroics of last year.

Fourteen-man Scarlets dumped Leinster out of the semi-final and although both starting XVs will be very much changed this weekend, neither will be need to be reminded of what happened in the RDS when the Welsh side last pitched up.

That Leinster come into the game on the back of just their second defeat all season makes tomorrow's clash all the more mouth-watering.

After a sub-standard performance against Edinburgh, Leinster are looking for a big response and Stuart Lancaster is expecting one.

"It was certainly frustrating to lose the game," the senior coach admitted.

"We were certainly in a position to win it right throughout, I felt. We gave them opportunities rather than them creating too many.

"Certainly the two tries in the first half and even at 76 minutes we were 24-22 up with them having possession, albeit in their own 22.

"We were very frustrated to lose that game. It was one that we lost rather than Edinburgh won I felt personally."

The defeat in Scotland was made all the worse by the fact that Treviso over turned the Scarlets in what was one of the biggest shocks this season.

It means that Leinster missed the chance the pull clear at the top of the table, and instead remain level on points with tomorrow's opponents.

"Yeah, I guess it's doubly frustrating given they lost at the weekend," Lancaster acknowledged.

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"I had a chat with the players this morning and showed the picture of the league table but also the run-in if you like. And these games will have a huge bearing on who comes top of the Conference.

"We've got tough games to come but equally these games against Scarlets back-to-back are going to be very important."

As is always the case at this time of year, Leinster have international players filtering in and out of camp, which is a testing time for the coaches, who are attempting to strike the right balance.

"It's good, in the down weeks you get some players back, certainly in my experience of being in England it was the same," Lancaster maintained.

"You tend to want to go into camp with your starters from the previous week and your likely starters of the third Six Nations game, maybe keep one or two of the bench who are important and maybe release one or two back to get some game-time. It works well.

"From a club point of view, now the shoe is on the other foot for me. We'll just wait and see who we get back and work from there.

"If we didn't get any players back we'd roll out the same team we played this week and we've also got someone like James Tracy and Adam Byrne back in the mix.

"We have got players returning from injury.

"That will play out in the next 24 hours once Joe makes his final call on who is going to be in camp and who's not and then we'll just react on the back of it but we've got plenty of good players and the lads who come back in will be able to slot back in and get up to speed straight away."

Leinster were rocked by serious injuries to Robbie Henshaw and Josh van der Flier but Lancaster believes they can cope:

"I really feel for Josh and Robbie in particular given the quality and how well they were playing. They were absolutely key to not just Ireland being successful, but Leinster being successful.

"Both of them are players Ireland didn't want to lose. But it is what it is and we're lucky at Leinster there's a lot of quality back-rowers."

Irish Independent

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