PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

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PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by George Carlin on Sun 08 May 2016, 7:30 am

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Leinster Rugby v Ulster Rugby
Friday 20 May 2016
KO: 19:45
RDS Arena, Dublin

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 48th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Sean Brickell (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IRFU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

Live on Sky Sports/TG4 and BBC Sport NI

A. Head to Head

30 Played 30
22 Wins 6
6 Losses 22
2 Draws 2
614 Points 439

B. Form

Ulster Rugby 30 - 6 Leinster Rugby
30th April 2016

Leinster Rugby 8 - 3 Ulster Rugby
27th November 2015

Ulster Rugby 26 - 10 Leinster Rugby
24th April 2015

Leinster Rugby 24 - 11 Ulster Rugby
3rd January 2015

C. Teams

Leinster Rugby 

I Nacewa (c); D Kearney, G Ringrose, B Te'o, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M Kearney, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, P Dooley, T Furlong, R Molony, J Conan, L McGrath, I Madigan, Z Kirchner.

Ulster Rugby

J Payne; A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Best (c), R Lutton, P Browne, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy.

Replacements: R Herring, K McCall, A Warwick, R Diack, R Wilson, P Marshall, S Olding, D Cave.


Last edited by George Carlin on Fri 20 May 2016, 8:06 pm; edited 6 times in total

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by SecretFly on Fri 20 May 2016, 11:59 pm

Like someone said above, you're obviously entitled to your opinion, UlsterinKildare - and to hold it honestly.  I don't doubt the honesty of your disappointment and where you see the problems are.

But you could really tag on that last line of yours to your own posts.  "Sometimes the truth hurts."

In order to have a team that wants to win, and leaders that don't want to 'accept defeat', you have to have a team in front of you that IS prepared to roll over and 'accept defeat'.

I don't buy this oft repeated line that teams or individual players 'accept defeat' - bad ones probably do from time to time.  But most of the time, they have no choice.  They have to suck it up because they simply weren't good enough.  The will to win doesn't give the right to win.  You still must beat a side that also wants to win and is not in the mood to 'accept defeat'.  
Leinster were that side tonight.  Their will to win and determination not to lose was what saw them through - a large part of it being a great defensive shift.

How many notches does that battle have to go up as each side and each set of players fight it out to prove they are the one that will not 'accept defeat'?  

Warren Gatland has had to accept defeat plenty of times.  He doesn't like it - you can see it written all over his features.  It doesn't change the result.  Sometimes you simply meet a better side - on the night.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by marty2086 on Sat 21 May 2016, 12:24 pm

UlsterinKildare wrote:I was at the RDS tonight, thankfully didn't have too far to travel home. And I have been at 18 matches home & away this season. Believe me, just like the Munster game at Ravenhill at the beginning of the year, way too many players on the Ulster team who are simply too accepting of defeat. No winning mentality. And it starts at the top.

And it's been that way for too many years. Anscombe was right - but he put too many noses out of joint. Some people couldn't bear to hear the truth. Too comfortable being also rans.

Sure, applaud Best for being gracious in defeat (again). It all rolls off the tongue a little too easily. I'd rather a hard nosed bast@rd that wouldn't settle for anything less than a win. You think McCaw or Martin Johnson or O'Driscoll or even Dallaglio would have been so easy after losing?

This defeat doesn't rest with the younger guys - Jackson, Gilroy, Henderson, McCloskey, etc. are the solution. The problem is the lack of on-field leadership and the lack of off-field strategy and preparedness. Kiss, Best and the senior players are to blame for yet another failure. There's a reason Schmidt was only too glad to let Kiss go to Ulster. Just like there's a reason why a 'winning' coach like Gatland (who is better than Schmidt!) wouldn't have Best on his Lions squad.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but it's still the truth...

You blame the older players and let the younger players off the hook? How do you think older players become accepting of defeat? Because when they were young they were let off the hook Rolling Eyes

A captain like Best doesn't say in public what he says in private, if you bothered watching him after he was taken off or post match the disappointment was clear.

Every player put everything they had into that game last night but they came up short against a Leinster team who put in their best performance of the season.

Teams like Leinster, Munster, Saracens went through period like the Ulster have for the last 5 years of losing big games and falling short before they had periods of success. I'd be more worried if we weren't making games like this

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by eirebilly on Sat 21 May 2016, 12:26 pm

I have not seen Leinster play that well for some time. It was a very good performance from them especially when Ulster started turning the screw in the second 20 of the 1st half.

Sexton's tactical kicking and kicking from the tee was exceptional but I do feel that Paddy played the better game in his managing of his backs.

Henderson was my MOM but only slightly ahead of Toner who I thought was everywhere.

It was a great game to watch for the neutral fan thumbsup

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat 21 May 2016, 12:35 pm

I think Leinster would have beaten any team last night - it is difficult for a team to accept but they were just beaten by a better team!

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by marty2086 on Sat 21 May 2016, 2:21 pm

Rory Best wrote:Every year we think we have improved enough to answer the questions asked of us at this stage but yet again we have fallen short.

It doesn't get any easier to take as this year we really thought we were in a good place to go on and do it. We felt the belief of recent weeks would drive us through but it wasn't to be

It's very disappointing as we felt we had a big game in us, but we'll be back again.

It's just not the way we wanted to sign off the season and not the way I wanted to sign off personally.

We have a lot of talent in our back-line but if you can't front up and man up around the edge of the ruck and around the set-piece and you lose those little mini-battles there, it doesn't matter what you've got out wide.

To be fair to that young back-line, they fought and scrapped with everything they had, but as forwards we probably have to take a bit of responsibility

Sounds like a man happy in defeat Rolling Eyes


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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by Notch on Sat 21 May 2016, 2:38 pm

The guy was devastated, and the guy puts his entire heart and soul into the shirt. We miss the leadership of Muller, but I'm not into putting the boot into players who have that level of commitment to a team I love to support.

I especially remember that Best could have easily walked away from Ulster Rugby to other sides in France and England any number of times and has chosen to stay.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by SecretFly on Sat 21 May 2016, 10:48 pm

eirebilly wrote:I have not seen Leinster play that well for some time. It was a very good performance from them especially when Ulster started turning the screw in the second 20 of the 1st half.

Sexton's tactical kicking and kicking from the tee was exceptional but I do feel that Paddy played the better game in his managing of his backs.

Henderson was my MOM but only slightly ahead of Toner who I thought was everywhere.

It was a great game to watch for the neutral fan thumbsup

For me, I was very impressed by Sexton. He was ferocious in his concentrations levels, in that kicking performance of course; but for me, the defending really showed how this man doesn't evade the idea that you lead by example.

For me, he was the MOM - at once a cool and intense performance. Perhaps beginning to emerge from quite a long dip.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by Artful_Dodger on Sat 21 May 2016, 11:31 pm

SecretFly wrote:
eirebilly wrote:I have not seen Leinster play that well for some time. It was a very good performance from them especially when Ulster started turning the screw in the second 20 of the 1st half.

Sexton's tactical kicking and kicking from the tee was exceptional but I do feel that Paddy played the better game in his managing of his backs.

Henderson was my MOM but only slightly ahead of Toner who I thought was everywhere.

It was a great game to watch for the neutral fan thumbsup

For me, I was very impressed by Sexton.  He was ferocious in his concentrations levels, in that kicking performance of course; but for me, the defending really showed how this man doesn't evade the idea that you lead by example.

For me, he was the MOM - at once a cool and intense performance.  Perhaps beginning to emerge from quite a long dip.

Don't disagree with any of that, he put in a great performance. But in regard to his defending.....how many backwards steps did he take when Henderson clattered into him Whistle

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by SecretFly on Sat 21 May 2016, 11:41 pm

That was actually one of the points when I really hailed him... It was a matador against an angry big bull...yes the matador skidded and slid but Henderson's impulse and momentum was dampened and pushed sideways.

Henderson had a great game too.... but he's the battering ram so backward steps against him aren't rare Wink...still Sexton stuck at it, dug in.  The mental grit mood he was in is what I liked.

Meanwhile, despite the disappointments in Ulster, that's a side that are seriously looking like being an intimidating side next season when Kiss gets a full start with them.  Very impressed by that vicious punch they sustained through the game.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by Notch on Sun 22 May 2016, 12:04 am

Considering the limitations of the players in the pack, I think Kiss is doing a very good job. Best and Henderson are very good forwards, Van Der Merwe and Henry are technically very good but not imposing- the rest are not top quality unfortunately. I don't say that to put them down, I've been genuinely impressed with guys like Reidy, Browne and Black. They've been playing well above their reputations for a while.

Not being permitted to sign an injury replacement for Coetzee is the real optimism killer going into next year.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by The Great Aukster on Sun 22 May 2016, 10:05 am

Agree with that Notch - the forwards aren't good enough or perhaps more correctly aren't good enough to play the style of game Kiss is asking from them.

Paul O'Connell at a recent dinner in Belfast said how envious he was of the Ulster suppor- (he would say that wouldn't he!) but there was a genuine conviction in his words when he said that Ulster were so lucky to have Les Kiss on board.

Les Kiss has given young players their opportunity and developed some depth but is obviously trying to promote an off-loading game into the province. Townsend has been successful with that and now Lam has shown that Connacht have taken a leaf out of the Glasgow book. The issue at Ulster is they are falling between two stools. They don't have a powerful enough pack to compete consistently with teams like Leinster or Saracens and they don't have the ball handlers in the forwards who can play "XV man rugby" like Galsgow/Connacht.

UlsterinKildare is wrong about Best being a loser, but there are elements of truth in his assertion about leadership. Sexton was my MOTM as he took control especially after the half. Leinster were clearly following direction and Johnny was orchestrating the whole thing - I got the impression that if he had been in a white shirt Ulster would have shaded the game.

I'm not sure what influence Allan Clarke has on recruitment and selection but he seems to be a proponent of the "heavy horse" mentality - when Ulster are actually lacking in that resource. Doak OTOH seems to be more about playing with nimble feet and nimble minds and until this contradiction in styles is resolved, guys like Jackson won't know whether to stick or twist.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by Notch on Sun 22 May 2016, 11:55 am

Yep, good points. Don't fully agree we don't have the ball handlers- there's still some way to go but our forwards skill levels have improved immeasurably across the season. Hopefully that upward trajectory can be maintained because we still have a long way to go to catch up to Glasgow and Connacht. But the ball handling skills they have were the result of good skills coaching, they're not innate to the players, and there are signs Kiss is bringing us on well there. But I don't feel Connacht or Glasgow will be successful in Europe, and it would be a brave man who'd look past Leinster in the Final next week, because you can't be a truly dominant team without having that hard horse physicality to go with it. Henderson would be the kind of player who has the full package and they are rare enough. Best is too, despite his detractors. A good scrummager, hard as nails at the breakdown. Henry is tough but slowing up- none of the rest of the pack are really physical at all. When we get Herbst back at tight head will be in better shape in the scrum but our props are neither mobile nor particularly big. Herbst in particular offers very, very little outside the set piece. Callum Black deserves some credit for the improvement in his work at the breakdown however.

Obviously it's no secret that we seem to lack leadership and composure in the big games and have done for some time, but I wouldn't single out Best who is just one man. If had 8 forwards of his calibre on the pitch and we'd be up there with the best. I feel like you're right about Sexton. Sometimes we call our most fancy backs moves when the devastating thing to do would be to slot in into the corner. We can be over-ambitious and thats devastating when your scrum is as poor as ours has been this season. We also have a serious problem regarding skills levels deserting us under pressure!

Regarding the captaincy, for Ulster and Ireland he is a respected leader who is in the job because there is no-one truly inspirational like O'Connell or Muller on the scene any more. He's said he'll consider his future in the role and if he is to continue as Captain of Ireland (and I think he has to until POM is back) he shouldn't be Captain of Ulster.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by SecretFly on Sun 22 May 2016, 12:15 pm

"But the ball handling skills they have were the result of good skills coaching, they're not innate to the players, and there are signs Kiss is bringing us on well there."

THIS.  This might be the most important 'influence' - I feel perhaps led behind the scenes by that bad man Nucifora - going on in Provinces right now.  

Is he secretly coaching?  No, of course not.  The Provincial coaches and assistants have their individual theories and practices that they drill, but I can't help feelings it's all too coincidental not to be the first tendrils of a more controlled and centralised program of upping those necessary skills throughout all Provinces.

I've been moaning on and on about it and *touch wood* I'm beginning to see a more cohesive desire through all Provinces to be more dynamic in the pathways used to get a ball from A to B. Plus fitness levels necessary to deliver it.

I'm hoping it's all a well strategized plan in union with Provincial coaches and National concerns (Schmidt & Nucifora) - and I'm hoping it goads Schmidt into following along and crafting a genuinely creative attacking strategy into the Ireland International side.

It's overdue - and no, it doesn't have to start at schools level as Connacht have been teaching us recently and Leinster taught us a good while back.  It's just a philosophy - drilled into training.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by Rory_Gallagher on Sun 22 May 2016, 12:41 pm

Unfortunately the inherent problems with this team are still going to exist next season. Our pack is seriously underpowered. We could have an even more difficult start to the season next year due to the lack of Nick Williams and the injury to Coetzee.

I think we really need to unearth some of our academy prospects, probably out of necessity more than anything else. I hope we give the likes of Dow and Timoney a good bit of game time in the friendlies during preseason. It certainly worked in favour of Connacht when they gave some of the Academy prospects game time.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by Notch on Sun 22 May 2016, 2:07 pm

Rory_Gallagher wrote:Unfortunately the inherent problems with this team are still going to exist next season. Our pack is seriously underpowered. We could have an even more difficult start to the season next year due to the lack of Nick Williams and the injury to Coetzee.

I think we really need to unearth some of our academy prospects, probably out of necessity more than anything else. I hope we give the likes of Dow and Timoney a good bit of game time in the friendlies during preseason. It certainly worked in favour of Connacht when they gave some of the Academy prospects game time.

You're not wrong there.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by marty2086 on Sun 22 May 2016, 4:00 pm

Agree on the academy boys Rory but the lack of power shouldn't be a problem. If you look at Connachts backrow, they aren't exactly big powerful guys but they make yards and recycle the ball quickly and are aggressive and intelligent at the breakdown, that comes from being coached right or from the players taking in what they are being taught.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by rodders on Mon 23 May 2016, 9:21 am

Hells bells.

Well played Leinster, the gig game players and bench really stood up - defensively they were outstanding and in the first half in particular really dominated the collisions.

Despite Ulster scrum doing better than expected in the first half it completely disintegrated in the last 25min, when Leinster brought Cronin and Furlong off the bench.

Overall I think Ulster have had a decent season and played good stuff under Kiss. However the squad depth, and in particular in the forwards is not good enough to genuinely compete at the big stages of the season without a lot of luck in jury wise.

Without the likes of Herbst, Williams, Touhy etc. the squad is thread bare up front and when teams can shut down key play makers like Payne, Jackson, Mccloskey in attack we don't have the options to change things.

Henderson and Luke Marshall had great games, and McCloskey, Gilroy, Henry and Best did ok and but overall to a man Leinster probably were superior on the day.

The issue for me is not the first team coaching or recruitment but the development structures and academy are not fit for purpose. We need to start producing forwards through the academy or we'll never win silverware,

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by The Great Aukster on Mon 23 May 2016, 2:04 pm

rodders wrote:The issue for me is not the first team coaching or recruitment but the development structures and academy are not fit for purpose. We need to start producing forwards through the academy or we'll never win silverware,

I disagree Rodders - it has an awful lot to do with the first team coaching and recruitment. Ulster has a history of ignoring the academy in favour of mediocre foreign signings or sticking with below average home grown players. Sean Dougall and Finlay Bealham are two Aussies who were in the Ulster Academy and didn't get a chance but have turned out to be better than average players. Instead the Ulster coaches preferred to stick with the likes of Thomas Anderson, Mike McComish, Dave Ryan and Bronson Ross. McCall and Warwick have potential and are worth persevering with but they have had to sink or swim in the deep end this season, when they could have had a shallower learning curve.

Finlay Bealham has 49 appearances for Connacht at age 24 + 1 Ireland cap, Ricky Lutton has 50 Ulster appearances at age 30. Tadgh Furlong age 23 has 32 Leinster appearances and 5 Ireland caps at a province with two Test players in front of him in the selection order. It is one thing getting players ready to make the step up but it is entirely another to give them a chance in the first team. There is an innate conservatism and stubbornness in the forwards selection at Ulster that isn't prepared to polish rough diamonds enough to see it they're real or not.

It happens in the backs as well, where Bryn went for the safe pair of hands of Louis Ludik rather than give that contract to Rory Scholes - the guy with far more potential. Alex Codling was apparently a tad too progressive for the current forwards set up and "co-incidentally" is leaving so that says it all really.



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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by rodders on Mon 23 May 2016, 3:17 pm

The Great Aukster wrote: It is one thing getting players ready to make the step up but it is entirely another to give them a chance in the first team. There is an innate conservatism and stubbornness in the forwards selection at Ulster that isn't prepared to polish rough diamonds enough to see it they're real or not.

I don't disagree with the innate conservatism(..and even bordering nepotism in some cases...) but there are real issues with regards tight 5 forward production. One of the main reasons is the lack of high quality coaching at schools, the gap then from the academy to the schools and club standard of rugby.

Guys coming into the academy are physically incapable of playing safely (scrummaging and lineout specifically) - we've seen a number or forwards retire young and/or suffer recurring long term injuries. I've heard this direct from s&c staff and believe this is a genuine problem.

We desperately need a higher standard semi club competition, a tier below the b&i cup, where young and fringe players can get meaningful game time and learn how to scrummage etc like they have in Wales.

Agree on Scholes vs Ludik. Also if you look at Leinster they seem able to retain 2-3 quality guys in the back positions (e.g. Kirchener, Kearney *2, McFadden, Fitzgerald, Reid, Ringrose, Nacewa, Teo can all rotate) whereas every year we seem to be letting talented guys go - Farrell, Ludik, Whitten, Seymour, Allen etc. which is hurting us when our squad is stretched.

I don't disagree that there are issues at the professional end of the coaching as well but until we fix the grassroots structures this is just papering over cracks.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

Post by The Great Aukster on Mon 23 May 2016, 8:36 pm

rodders wrote:I don't disagree that there are issues at the professional end of the coaching as well but until we fix the grassroots structures this is just papering over cracks.

I agree about the grassroots needing fixed. That starts at schools level - specifically the School's Cup that needs modification. There is frankly no incentive to develop tight forwards when only a handful of teams are competitive and the referees don't allow any dominance for safety reasons. Age-grade club sides should be allowed to compete in the School's Cup for a start.

I also agree about the step up from club to Province and again Ulster need to take a leaf out of Munster's book and insist on concentrating ALL the talent in the top two or three UBL sides. AIL 2 is simply too low a standard.

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Re: PRO12 Play Off 1: Leinster v Ulster, 20 May

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