Saturday 16 December 2017

We're fired up and ready to tame Dragons

Player Diary: The challenge this week is to rise above the external factors and just focus on playing our own game

Ross Molony during training this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Ross Molony during training this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Josh van der Flier being led off the pitch. Photo: Sportsfile
Dominic Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile

Ross Molony

After the game on Friday night we found ourselves in a great position. Knowing that the gap to second was three points and to first was four, a bonus-point win would put us top of the Guinness Pro12... if only for a few hours. It was important to keep the pressure on Ospreys and Munster.

Job done against Edinburgh and we could sit back over the weekend and watch the other teams in the league battle it out.

Ospreys and Munster really put everything they had into that game. It swung both ways and even at the death there was that late penalty decision for the ref, which ultimately went the way of Munster. It kept everyone guessing right until the end.

Looking back on Friday as we prepare for the challenge of Dragons, I thought we came together well given the circumstances we had to deal with.

Losing Dippy (Dominic Ryan, right) and Josh (van der Flier) early on meant I had one of my first stints in the back row and I enjoyed the challenge of playing in a different position.

As you never know what can happen in a game, you just really have to be prepared for all situations.

Thankfully I have trained at six a few times and had 20 minutes there in an U-20s interpro v Munster a few years back. Not exactly ideal, but not completely alien to me either.

Given the number of injuries that followed, I felt the team adapted well. Edinburgh were certainly up for a physical encounter and they were not going to roll over easily. After a lot of defending in the first-half, I thought we regrouped well in the second and we ran in some nice tries. We were delighted to get the bonus-point win and to finish the game with 14 men showed great character.

With the internationals away on Six Nations duty, these few weeks are huge for the club. We especially targeted this block of four games - Treviso, Edinburgh, Dragons and Scarlets. We want four from four to keep us in a fighting spot for a home semi-final. With the first two of those games won with bonus points, we will take huge confidence and momentum into tonight against the Dragons.

I realise we haven't the best record in Rodney Parade, having been involved in the losses in the last two years over there.

Dragons are a quality side and they are very strong at home. They won all their games in Europe at home and all their wins in the Pro12 have been at home.

They are particularly well set up at this time of the year because they have less Six Nations interruptions. They are coming in off the back of a narrow bonus-point loss away to Connacht - where they feel they should have won - and with a settled team, with maybe only two players lost to Wales.

In order to get a result, tonight is about us. We have focused all week on our accuracy and mindset approaching this game. We cannot let any outside factors, like playing away from home, take away from our performance. The coaches have worked hard with us on our unstructured attack.

We try to focus on being able to control the game at a fast pace and applying pressure to our opposition. All of these are components we will take into tonight in Rodney Parade.

The international games give Leinster players a huge opportunity. Not only do we get valuable experience through game time, but we can show the coaches that we won't give up the jersey easily when the Irish players return.

Even with Devin away with Ireland, the second row is a highly competitive position. There is Mick, Mike, Ian, myself and with Triggsy getting back competition is extremely high.

Something I have learned over the last year is the importance of taking opportunities. When given these chances, you want to prove that you should be there every week - especially with the matches ahead in the final part of the season.

Challenging games like tonight are the perfect chance to show what you're about. From the team's point of view, we need to build on good performances, continue our momentum, and ultimately get the win.

Irish Independent

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