# Memories
Leinster channel spirit of 'Bloodgate' win in Quins ahead of Bath clash
‘We realised that we’re going to have to have that same mental attitude,’ says captain Jamie Heaslip.

LEINSTER VERSUS HARLEQUINS in the 2009 Heineken Cup will be most remembered for ‘Bloodgate,’ but the province’s fans and players know exactly how crucial a turning point that fixture was.

Nick Evans kicks a last minute attempt at a drop goal Billy Stickland / INPHO Nick Evans missed a late drop goal attempt after coming back on in the 'Bloodgate' clash. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

After years of near misses and disappointments, Leinster delivered a gritty performance on a shitty day to squeeze through to the semi-finals on a 6-5 scoreline, eventually winning their first trophy.

Further successes have followed, but as Leinster prepare themselves for another quarter-final in the renamed European competition, captain Jamie Heaslip found himself reflecting on that April afternoon at the Stoop.

Bath are the English opposition tomorrow at the Aviva Stadium and on the face of it, the English opposition is the only similarity.

However, when we ask how much of an advantage Leinster’s knock-out experience in European competition is, particularly given Bath’s lack of that exact attribute in recent years, Heaslip slips down memory lane.

“On one side, yeah we’ve been there and been at this stage of the competition a few times,” said Heaslip yesterday in UCD. “We’re lucky to be at this stage, we’re the only club in the Pro12 that are there at this stage.

“The flip side of it is that we realise that it’s on the day. So in a way, experience doesn’t matter on the day because it’s a one-off game. But having that experience and realising it – I know it’s a bit of a weird statement to make – is a good thing.

Jamie Heaslip Billy Stickland / INPHO Heaslip carries hard at the Stoop in that memorable 6-5 win. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“We were sitting down today in the game managers’ meeting and there was a picture up of the Harlequins-Leinster game in 2009 and myself and Kearns [Rob Kearney] were thinking back to that day and how long ago it was, what it took to get through that day.”

The recent Six Nations victors gazed at the image on the wall at Leinster’s training base and came to the conclusion that the same grit that saw them past Harlequins six years ago will be required at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.

After a stuttering season under Matt O’Connor, this can be their defining turning point.

We realised that we’re going to have to have that same mental attitude in going up against a very, very good English side who are competing at the top end of the league over there and who are a tough side to break down.

“Just like in the position we were in in 2009, we find ourselves in a similar enough position to be honest, except we’re obviously at home. That’s kind of the only thing I can draw on really.

“We’ve got an experienced enough squad to know that in these games, it’s the team that makes the least amount of mistakes obviously, because they [Bath] have got pace that can punish you and on our behalf when we get into those positions to score, we’ve got to take our chances.”

Heaslip terms his own statement “weird,” but one gets a strong sense of what he means nonetheless. The feeling all week is that Leinster’s big-game experience is of major benefit in a tie like this one, whatever about their form and Bath’s quality.

Luke Fitzgerald tries to go past Gonzalo Tiesi Billy Stickland / INPHO Luke Fitzgerald was involved against Quins in 2009. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Head coach O’Connor has seen his team perform inconsistently throughout the campaign, but this week he’s watched the experienced men like Heaslip and Sean O’Brien take control.

“You have to have confidence in the guys who have been to the hill before and guys take ownership of that,” said O’Connor.

“They understand the dynamics of knock-out rugby, how tiny the margins are and they drive that intensity through the group from Monday on and it’s about giving them the ownership and the responsibility to drive it because ultimately they will be the guys out there, determining how they will do.” 

Leinster (v Harlequins, 2009): Rob Kearney; Isa Nacewa, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright; Leo Cullen (capt.), Malcolm O’Kelly; Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Ronan McCormack, Trevor Hogan, Sean O’Brien, Simon Keogh, Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan.

Originally published at 0815

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