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'Obviously the breakdown was absolutely... it was chaos' - Sexton


Jonathan Sexton of Leinster and Keith Earls of Munster fist bump

Jonathan Sexton of Leinster and Keith Earls of Munster fist bump

Jonathan Sexton of Leinster and Keith Earls of Munster fist bump

New interpretations of the breakdown laws meant that last night's game between Leinster and Munster was always bound to throw up several penalty concessions.

World Rugby are eager to cut out dangerous play in and around the ruck area, and while the laws themselves haven't actually changed, referees are clamping down on the existing directives, thus leaving little wiggle room for the players.

Both teams knew what was coming, but as was the case in the early stages of Super Rugby Aotearoa in New Zealand, there was a plethora of penalties, some of which more puzzling than others.

Referee Andrew Brace had a mixed bag in that regard, and for all that the players tried to stay patient with the referee, his reading of the breakdown was at times, confusing to say the least.

Leinster conceded a total of 17 penalties to Munster's nine, which is a staggering number for Leo Cullen's men, who usually pride themselves on their discipline.

"Very stop start, rusty," Johnny Sexton, began as he offered his take on the game, and in particular how the breakdown was managed.

"We knew there would be an element of that. We would have liked to have been a bit better.

"Obviously the breakdown was absolutely... it was chaos.

"We couldn't seem to get any flow into our game. We got some momentum back in terms of the result. To start with a win is very important. that's about it really. Not too much to talk about. Stop-start affair.

"We saw that with the Premiership. Hopefully week two will be better.

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"We know we got a semi-final to look forward to, probably against the same opposition."

Like Super Rugby, Premiership has also seen a huge increase in penalty concessions in the early weeks since its restart, and the likelihood is that the PRO14 will have to go through the same short-term pain for long-term gain.

And that's ultimately what it boils down to.

These directives have been brought in on the back of feedback from an expert group, which includes Joe Schmidt, with a view to making the game safer for everyone.

"There’s a few things where you’re like, ‘We need to figure out what the referee is seeing here,'" Leo Cullen said.

Leinster edged a pulsating clash 27-25, and although the champions have plenty of room for improvement, it was Munster who were left to rue another missed opportunity against their old rivals.

Craig Casey's decision to kick the ball out of play rather than attempt to go the full length of the pitch and attempt to snatch a win caught Cullen by surprise, as the Leinster head coach admitted:

"It was curious to see Munster taking a losing bonus point at the end, I thought they might have taken a gamble to run out again."

It remains to be seen whether or not Casey was instructed to kick the ball dead or not, as the young scrum-half looked visibly frustrated as he ended the game.

However, his head coach defended the decision.

"We’ll review that," Johann van Graan said.

"We were down in our own 22 with 95 metres to go.

"We got the bonus point, obviously that’s not what we came here for so we’ll go and have a review of that and then go on."

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