Category: Archive

Leinster fail to get bonus point in big win, Munster lose ground

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

If there was some solace in that the reigning champions managed to pick up a losing bonus point, coach Tony McGahan felt his team squandered an opportunity after leading at the interval.
“We’re very disappointed. The first half had been solid enough, but to come out in the second half and start as we did was disappointing. I thought we put ourselves in a position to get a result, but the beginning of the second half was well and truly below our standards.”
A try by prop Marcus Horan and some accurate goal kicking by Ronan O’Gara had given Munster a 16-12 half time advantage, but Clermont dominated much of the second period before O’Gara was able to add a late penalty to secure the bonus point which could prove to be important when the pool stages of the competition are finalised in January.
With Clermont traveling to Limerick on Saturday, Munster are now in second place in the pool behind English club Sale. “It’s a massive game on Saturday,” said captain, Paul O’Connell. “That bonus point might be vital for us or it mightn’t count for anything if we don’t turn up at Thomond Park. We’re still in with a great chance.”
As for Leinster, who currently lead the way in their pool, there was no doubt about their dominance in a 33-3 win over another French side, Castres, at the RDS, however, yet again, they failed to capitalize on an opportunity.
With Castres fielding an understrength team, a bonus point for scoring four tries was there for the taking, but despite the weakness of the opposition, Leinster could only manage three.
Leading by just 9-0 at the changeover, the winners’ three tries from Bernard Jackman, Brian O’Driscoll and Simon Keogh came late in the game as they struggled to overcome a series of handling errors. What’s more, O’Driscoll suffered a hamstring injury and will probably miss Friday’s return game in Castres.
“We need to win games, that’s all. We did that, but we need to be more clinical to get the final icing on the top,” said coach, Michael Cheika.
Meanwhile, Ulster are unlikely to qualify for the knockout stages, but they got back on course with a 26-16 win over Llanelli Scarlets in Belfast. Darren Cave, Simon Danielli and David Pollock scored tries with David Humphreys adding three penalties and a conversion.
There is also hope in the European Challenge Cup for Connacht who defeated Italian club Rovigo 35-20. With London Irish certain to qualify as pool leaders, Connacht could also book a place in the quarter-finals as one of the leading second place teams.

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