Erasmus hails the superior discipline of Leinster heroes
WE’RE becoming used to encountering Rassie Erasmus on the wrong side of the result at the national home of Irish rugby.
Four trips, four defeats in the space of 12 months, yesterday’s reverse to Leinster was his second derby setback in a run that also features losses to Saracens and Scarlets at the ground.
He wasn’t leaving on this occasion entirely chastened by the outcome, though.
A six-point loss was an improvement on the 12-point margin of defeat that obtained a year ago, enough of a straw for him to clutch and not fret about the twists and turns Europe will now hold for his team.
‘It’s not nice to come here and lose,’ he admitted. ‘We came here to win and it’s disappointing. You get one bonus point and it’s a little consolation, but we have only ourselves to blame.
‘The penalty count was crazy and it was only late when a few penalties went against them we got into the game. It was remarkable discipline by Leinster to go 60 minutes and only concede one penalty. It was really well done by them.
‘We lost by six points and scored three tries and they scored two, but we gave penalties away and that is why they beat us.
‘We reduced the margin to six points (from last year’s 12), which is a little bit of a positive, and the way we found ways to score tries was positive and at least we didn’t get a lot of injuries.
‘We tried a few combinations and wanted to see if the need is there to use Tyler (Bleyendaal) at centre we can cope.
‘We now know against a quality world-class back line like Leinster you were in the game for most of it apart from the penalties. We have learned a few lessons and like last year we went into Europe and did pretty okay, so I think we are okay (for the weeks ahead).’
Leinster boss Leo Cullen was naturally far more satisfied, his team’s derby win coinciding with Montpellier, next Saturday’s Champions Cup visitors to Dublin, slipping up on the road at Stade Francais. The Top 14 leaders yesterday morning, they went down 31-20 in Paris.
‘We’re reasonably pleased,’ he said at the end of an afternoon where Johnny Sexton’s boot took him to 1,234 points for the province, overtaking the record of the previous leader, Felipe Contepomi.
‘We controlled the game pretty well in the first 25 minutes. With (Niall) Scannell in the bin we fell into the trap of playing a bit too much and coughed up that intercept because we had looked quite strong and dominant.
‘We got back on track, Rory (O’Loughlin) gets a second try and at the start of the second half were quite good again. Then there was this small period halfway through where we played off a quick tap, the pass doesn’t go to hand and a minute later Munster score again. They were two disappointing tries to give away.
‘Parts of our game can definitely be better. We probably need to be a bit more ruthless and finish off chances, but we would have taken this result going in.
‘From a defensive view, giving away three tries wasn’t like us.
‘It’s going to be a huge step up again next week into Europe, but it was a fantastic occasion here today, an amazing crowd.’