Wednesday 16 October 2019

O'Connor unfazed after 'irrelevant' defeat

Scarlets 23 Leinster 13

Fergus McFadden, Leinster, is tackled by Regan King, left, and Rory Pitman, Scarlets
Fergus McFadden, Leinster, is tackled by Regan King, left, and Rory Pitman, Scarlets
Leinster's Rhys Ruddock tries to offload the ball after being tackled by Ken Owens, Scarlets
Josh Van der Flier and his Leinster team-mates following their side's defeat
Josh Van der Flier, Leinster, is tackled by Ken Owens, Scarlets Newsdesk Newsdesk

Matt O'Connor described this defeat as "irrelevant" in its impact on Leinster's Guinness Pro12 semi-final hopes, but his mood suggested it was anything but.

A side containing 12 members of Ireland's Six Nations squad came unstuck against a Scarlets side able to generate a tempo and intensity beyond anything the visitors could offer.

Ben Te'o's first try in Leinster colours plus five points from Jimmy Gopperth's boot had given the Irish province a 10-8 half-time lead.

But the home side turned the tables as they added two scores to a first half try for excellent No 8 John Barclay.

The Scotland international's purposeful surge laid the groundwork for Regan King to put Jordan Williams over, while Barclay also delivered the final pass for Rory Pitman to batter past Gopperth for the Scarlets' third try.

The result dropped Leinster out of the top four thanks to the Ospreys' win over Munster in Swansea, with just five games remaining, including meetings with leaders Glasgow and Ulster.

O'Connor, though, insists that he is not particularly concerned.

"There are five games to go and every point will be at a premium and it is going to be very tight.

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"There are a lot of teams to play each other in that top five," said O'Connor.

"So the result was disappointing and the performance was disappointing but what that does to the top four is irrelevant with five games remaining.

"There is a fair bit of chopping and changing to work out.

"It is a tighter league than we have seen for a while so it is about accumulating as many points as you can and seeing where it leaves you.

"Post-Six Nations with our blokes back in our environment we will be happy to go anywhere and win."

But the Australian's reaction to Zane Kirchner's disallowed try, which would have earned the visitors a losing bonus point, told a different story.

The South African's effort was ruled out by Welsh TMO Tim Hayes for a block by Michael Bent on Ken Owens, although the full-back also appeared to fail to ground the ball, and O'Connor seethed at the lack of neutral offiicials in the Pro 12.

"It has to be looked at how it is put together across the board because with meritocracy (European qualification) everything is important," lamented the Australian.

Scarlets - J Williams; H Robinson, R King (R Priestland 61), S Williams, H Parkes; S Shingler (A Warren 71Scarlets: J Williams; H Robinson, R King (R Priestland 61), S Williams, H Parkes; S Shingler (A Warren 71), A Davies (G Davies 77); P John (W Jones 56), K Owens (R Elias 31-35), P Edwards (J Adriaanse 57), G Earle (J Payne 61), J Snyman (R Pitman 54), L Rawlins, J Davies, J Barclay.

Leinster - Z Kirchner; F McFadden (D Kearney 65), B Te'o, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Gopperth, E Reddan (I Boss 68); C Healy (M Bent 74), S Cronin (R Strauss 70), M Moore (Furlong 54), M McCarthy (T Denton 65), K Douglas, R Ruddock, D Ryan (J van der Flier 68), J Conan.

Ref - G Clancy (IRFU)


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