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Ross: Leinster re-emerging from ‘dark place’ for second swing at Clermont

If Leinster lose they’re out. That’s how the prop is approaching this painful week.

DEFEATS IN THE Pro12 hurt, but they come and go.

Leinster, for the first time in 17 games spanning two years, lost in the Heineken Cup on Sunday and that new bruise to the ego has taken some time for the players to get used to.

“It was a tough encounter, you know.” Mike Ross said as he came to the end of the media merry-go-round in UCD.

“A few lads went to a dark place on Sunday and we’re just emerging from it I think.”

With a tinge of gallows humour, he laughs and adds: “Your mindset changes during the week, if you asked me yesterday I’d have said; ‘oh my God…’

“But you pick yourself up. You’ve got a great opportunity in front of what looks like a sell-out crowd in the Aviva  and it’s an exciting occasion.”

The tight-head prop maintains that there was little need for the video analysis yesterday morning. By the time the final whistle blew, the visitors to the Stade Marcel Michelin knew exactly what had gone wrong. When the unavoidable came to pass Ross, in a foreboding tone that only a man of over 125 kilos can deliver, called it “annoying viewing”.

We get the impression you wouldn’t like Mike Ross when he’s annoyed

“It’s really difficult to get into that position in the first place and if you cough up possession without giving a good account of yourself then it’s frustrating. But we’ll go away and work on it and  make sure we get it right this weekend.”

There was a similar, yet slightly more panicked, brand of soul-searching from the European champions after they were trashed by Connacht in September. The redoubtable Ross also provided the face of Leinster rugby that day when he said:

“You come into training annoyed about it and once you’ve gone through the video you’re even more annoyed.”

That too was leading up to a clash with familiar opponents on Lansdowne Road, and despite a very good performance from Munster, it wasn’t good enough to match the the refocused home side.

Back to the present threat: the opponent who bookended each side of Leinster’s 17-game unbeaten streak and now have the opportunity to all-but kill off their latest defence of Heineken Cup.

“We have to win if we want to stay in the competition.” Ross asserted.

“We felt we had opportunities to win the game at the weekend, we didn’t take them. We’ve got another opportunity this weekend and if we just tie up a few inaccuracies that we had I think we’ll go along way towards winning the game.”

Round two

Improvements and inaccuracies mean offloads (of which the visitors managed only one) and the line-out. For the latter, Richardt Strauss came under fire for a series of missed throws after his introduction, but Ross pointed out enough moving parts in the process to deflect blame onto the whole unit.

The other set-piece did function well. But Ross will be as diligent as ever as he prepares for a second round with Vincent Debaty.

“I think it went well enough.” The Fermoy man said of their first set of head- to-heads, “Obviously, I’m not going to assume it’s going to go the same way this weekend, because even every scrum is different.

“They might beat you across the mark, you might be caught a little bit high. Just because you do well one week doesn’t mean anything the next week. They will be looking at their scrum thinking they can do better and we’ll do the same.”

There is only one elixir for the hurt in Ross’ voice. Win.

Heineken Cup: O’Malley, Kearney back in the mix for ‘must-win’ Clermont clash

Kearney full of praise for stand-in Madigan, but setting no targets for Clermont rematch

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