Sport Rugby

Sunday 19 November 2017

We must be clinical to take final step – Lamont

Sean Lamont: 'There is nowhere after this - it's all or nothing.' Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
Sean Lamont: 'There is nowhere after this - it's all or nothing.' Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

You wouldn't really know there's a final going on in Dublin this week – the end of May is a strange time for rugby in this country with the O'Neill and Keane show in town and the GAA championships ramping up.

Brian O'Driscoll is saying goodbye for real tomorrow, but there will be those who probably didn't realise he was still playing given his retirement has gone on for months and, while the sell-out crowd at the RDS will make the Pro12 final an occasion to savour, the lack of an Irish side in the Heineken Cup final has seen casual interest wane.

Compare that to Scotland where there is a feverish anticipation for this showpiece which gives Glasgow Warriors a chance to claim the country's first piece of silverware since the 1999 Six Nations.

While Leinster come into the meeting under pressure to sustain their record of collecting silverware on an annual basis, their opponents are on the cusp of something new, something that can spur them on to another level.

The feeling in Glasgow and Dublin after the semi-finals two weeks ago couldn't have been more different. Watching the Scotstoun celebrations felt like an intrusion on someone else's party, while the aftermath of Leinster's win over Ulster felt more a post mortem as the home faithful lamented the nature of the win.

Coached by a Scotland legend in Gregor Townsend and growing their fanbase exponentially, Glasgow have offered a chink of light to a sport that has struggled.

And for a long-suffering group of players, it represents a shot at redemption. "I've been trying for long enough to get some silverware, Gregor really wants it as well, so the desire is there," 33-year-old winger Sean Lamont said.

"We've got a great team, a great squad and we can do it, but it's just about having the right level of readiness – not being over the top and too excited, but being clinical and doing your job with absolute pin-point accuracy.

"We've got a lot of experienced guys, we've got a lot of guys who have been capped internationally and this is basically a Test match.

"There is nowhere after this. It's all or nothing, winner takes all, and there is no comeback – it's either bridesmaid or bride."

The mystery over Stuart Hogg continues, with word from Scotland indicating he won't be involved in the matchday 23 despite being the country's best player.

The full-back is believed to be leaving at the end of the season with Ulster among his suitors, although their move for Louis Ludik could signal that the impetus is gone out of that transfer.

Leinster know they're facing a strong team.

"They've been the form team since Christmas. They've had some very, very good wins. More importantly, they've been incredibly difficult to break down. They've got a great defensive record. Especially at home they've been very, very good," Matt O'Connor said.

"We'll have to make sure that we are on top of our game and we control the bits and pieces that we can control to make sure we can deliver on a performance that's up to our standard and ultimately capable of winning the game."

Irish Independent

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