Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Parting ways
From Treviso to ... Treviso: 5 games that proved pivotal in Matt O'Connor's downfall
The Leinster boss left by mutual consent this morning and there will hardly be too much outcry from Leinster supporters.

Benetton Treviso 24-24 Leinster

Jimmy Gopperth Dan Sheridan / INPHO Jimmy Gopperth came under fire for his performance against Treviso. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Treviso were wallowing at the foot of the Pro12 when Leinster arrived in Italy last November. While the Blues went with a largely inexperienced squad they were still able to name the likes of Dave Kearney, Jimmy Gopperth, Zane Kirchner and Jordi Murphy in the starting XV.

Despite scoring four tries, and thus achieving a bonus point, it was largely thanks to some poor defending and unforced errors on Treviso’s part that gave Leinster the platform. In a poor individual performance from Gopperth he had a clearance kick blocked down that led to a try before missing a drop-goal at the death which would have won it. Leinster had a five-point lead in the closing stages but lacked the composure to see the game out.

Munster 28-13 Leinster

MunsterÕs Denis Hurley  26/12//2014 Inpho / Billy Stickland Munster bullied Leinster in Thomond Park. Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Leinster went to Thomond Park as strong favourites as Munster were coming off the back of three straight defeats and playing probably their poorest rugby all season. Looking at the team-sheets you would have expected a relatively comfortable win for Leinster as they named a back-line in which Darragh Fanning was the only player not to be a fully-fledged international.

What unfolded typified Munster to the extreme and gave an indicator of where Leinster were at mentally. Munster won every ground battle and the visitors were nowhere near the levels of intensity produced by CJ Stander and co. They were shut down with relative ease going forward and O’Connor’s gameplan faced questions following the loss. Leinster were bullied out the gate.

Scarlets 23-13 Leinster

Kane Douglas under pressure from Steve Shingler Simon King / INPHO Leinster couldn't break through an organised Scarlets rearguard. Simon King / INPHO / INPHO

Possibly the most important loss of Matt O’Connor’s Leinster reign and a signal to any Leinster fans that still backed him that the Aussie’s time was up. O’Connor was able to welcome back a host of his Irish Six Nations contingent but what followed was yet another toothless performance.

As was so often the case this season, Leinster were average in the first half before their performance plummeted in the second. They led 10-8 at half-time thanks to a Ben Te’o try (how O’Connor must wish he had him available all season) but they were blown away by a passionate Scarlets performance after the break.

Describing the result as ‘irrelevant’ in the aftermath of that defeat only further enraged Leinster supporters.

Ulster 26-10 Leinster

Iain Henderson is tackled by Ben Te'o and Gordon D'Arcy Presseye / Darren Kidd/INPHO Iain Henderson was man of the match against Leinster last month. Presseye / Darren Kidd/INPHO / Darren Kidd/INPHO

The defeat that effectively ended Leinster’s hopes of sealing a place in the top four of the Pro12 and probably the final nail in the coffin for O’Connor.

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It was a familiar story as Leinster stormed into a 10-0 lead inside the first seven minutes. An Iain Henderson-inspired Ulster stormed back into contention and blew Leinster away, keeping them scoreless for the remaining 73 minutes.

What had become common throughout the season was evident again; Leinster were devoid of ideas in attacks and unable to string together decent team moves. The only times they threatened Ulster was when the likes of Te’o or Fitzgerald had ball in hand but that is a reflection of their individual talents rather than anything else.

Leinster 10-0 Treviso

Dave Kearney tackled by Rupert Harden Dan Sheridan / INPHO Leinster couldn't cope with the conditions in the RDS. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The game that confirmed Leinster’s participation in next season’s Champions Cup could hardly have been more of a dull affair. Leinster hit the front early on thanks to a Jamie Heaslip try but in deplorable conditions, they didn’t manage to record any points again until three minutes from time.

The performance itself was worse than the display against Ulster but Leinster were lucky that they were playing a Treviso side with even less attacking flair than them. A solid defensive effort allied with yet another performance of mammoth proportions from Jamie Heaslip saw Leinster edge over the line in a disgruntled RDS.

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