LEINSTER GO INTO this evening’s Pool 1 clash with Ospreys aware of the Welsh side’s knack of hitting them where and when it hurts.
Despite another lacklustre European season, Ospreys will take their places on the RDS pitch in confident mood. They proved to be Leinster’s bogey team under Michael Cheika and Joe Schmidt though a comprehensive home win last season looked to be turning the tide.
In September, Leinster led Ospreys 16-6 after 39 minutes but ended up drawing 29-29 after Dan Biggar kicked a last minute penalty. Sean O’Brien’s tour-de-force, one month later, settled their first Heineken Cup meeting but Blues captain Leo Cullen has warned supporters not to take a result for granted this evening.
He said, “[Pool 1] was a very tough ask and it is nice to be five games in, one to go, knowing exactly what we need to do, that is just win this game, top the group and be in the quarter-final draw. Ospreys are a team that have caused us a lot of difficulties in the past. They have a very strong forward pack. They like to get dominance there, strong spine in their team was away with the Lions.”
Cullen added, “They are probably disappointed with their campaign no doubt but I don’t think that will make any difference to their attitude. They are going to come here with a strong attitude that they want to finish the pool on a good note, give them a bit of momentum going into the latter part of the season.
They have done it a few times here before so I’m sure it won’t be any different.”
Cullen is midway through his final playing season with Leinster but will take over from Jono Gibbes as forwards coach during the summer. He admits some frustration at his watching brief for many big games this season but being on the sidelines is giving him a good insight on the players he will be coaching next season.
Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy and Leo Cullen after the away win against Castres. INPHO/Billy Stickland
“I was standing behind the goal when Castres scored that second try that got them 14-0 up,” he said. “Sometimes it is those loose games we know we have a lot of confidence in our fitness as well. We knew there was a chance they may tire as well so, as long as the tempo of the game was high it was going to suit us.
“Most of the players had a lot of confidence in ourselves that we could turn it around and that score before half time was very crucial. Lads battled hard in the second half and showed good resolve to hold them out and it was a good result.”
Another show of resolve and a good result are the minimum requirements for Leinster this evening. A bonus point may make viewing the remaining Round 6 matches slightly more comfortable.
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