Friday 23 February 2018

Mick O'Driscoll: Young stars' emergence bodes well for future

‘Darren Sweetnam had a solid game last week’. Photo: Sportsfile
‘Darren Sweetnam had a solid game last week’. Photo: Sportsfile

Mick O'Driscoll

Considering the horror start we had against Glasgow and the fact that we had to play with 14 men for a quarter of the game, you have to take some positives from a three-point defeat away to the champions.

If you were to take the first eight minutes out of the game you'd be happy how things went overall.

We had just about settled into the game and we were already 14-0 down. It was certainly a poor start from us. But then if you consider that we managed to lead at half-time, it shows the character of these lads. We were playing into a really strong wind, we trailed by two tries, and still managed to produce some excellent rugby to lead by three at the interval.

There was definitely an element of frustration in the aftermath but we were very pleased with a lot of aspects, especially that we managed to settle into the game at a stage when many teams would have folded and shipped 40 or 50 points.

But any time you go to Glasgow, give them a 14-point lead and then have two sin-binnings, gives you little chance of a win.

We were annoyed by a 15-5 penalty count against us; in reality you don't win games when discipline is poor like that.

It is always worrying when we concede so many penalties and it's something we have to look at.

At times we didn't make the correct decisions and perhaps there was an element of naivety there against a squad that had 18 internationals, but it's important we take learnings from the experience.

We had a good mix to our squad with two academy starters and are happy that our younger players are getting their chance to impress.

We had a really young backline and despite a few tough moments we were impressed with how they fared. Darren Sweetnam only made his debut a couple of weeks ago, but he had a solid game again, while academy players David Johnston and Rory Scannell paired up well in the centre.

We have the players coming through and they just need to build up their match experience. It all bodes well for the future.


Of our 23 last weekend, 19 of them are either in our academy or have come through the academy and age-grade pathways. A nice statistic from the weekend was that our entire starting 15 was Irish-born, while we had only one foreign-born player - Mario Sagario - in the 23.

We had nine internationals and played a Glasgow side with twice as many in their squad, so you have to be happy with a lot of aspects; a bit more experience in amongst those lads will help moving going forward.

Taking positives from games is one thing, but we need to be taking points too. And the next few weeks are vital to our season.

Taking on a side we've played three times already this season is always tough. We only met Treviso at the end of January and they have since produced victories against Cardiff and Dragons so we will need to fight for everything on Sunday.

Irish Independent

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