Dempsey excited about “Battle of the Captials”…
January 12, 2009 12:00 am client
Leinster travel to the home of English rugby to meet London Wasps with Girvan Dempsey adamant that the Irish province can turn the Twickenham factor to their advantage…
Wasps trail Leinster by three points in the chase for an automatic last eight place as the group winners with the “Battle of the Capitals” set to go a fair distance in settling the team earning a guaranteed place in the knock-out stages.
And, although Leinster won the Round 2 match at the RDS 41-11, Dempsey is quick to stress they expect the former double Heineken Cup champions to produce a far sterner challenge in their “home” leg.
Dempsey was one of the five Leinster players who featured in Ireland’s 28-24 victory over England in the RBS Six Nations clash at Twickenham in 2006 and the Irish province again supplied a third of the Irish team two years later for the corresponding match so the ground is far from unknown territory for many of the Leinster squad.
“This is the big one – made all the bigger after our Round 4 slip-up at Castres Olympique,” said Dempsey, who has racked up 63 Heineken Cup appearances.
“It meant we didn’t come away with the win we wanted and needed and that, along with Wasps beating Edinburgh, really opened up the Pool.
“It makes this is our make-or-break Pool game and, as Twickenham is such a special ground, we just hope the game lives up to its billing.
“And if you look across our squad not only have a lot of the boys played at Twickenham but there are others, like Rocky Elsom and CJ van der Linde, who have plenty of the big match experience playing at some of the biggest grounds in the world.
“The players certainly will not be daunted by either the size of the ground or the crowd and playing at Twickenham will only inspire us as not only do we love performing at these sort of stadiums but a lot of us also have good memories of previous games there and we have got a fantastic travelling support.
“And we will not be dwelling on the last game against Wasps, we will treat this as an entirely fresh game. Wasps are now a totally different side to the one we played in October and have recently hit some good form – and when they do that and their confidence is up, they are a very difficult side to beat.”
Leinster scored six tries in that Round 2 contest – two of them coming from Brian O’Driscoll – with their three bonus points overall the difference between the sides.
That win was sandwiched by other victories over Edinburgh and Castres Olympique – before the French club produced a major upset with an 18-15 triumph at Stade Pierre-Antoine in Round 4.
“We know that Wasps, just like Castres, are very physical at ruck time and we will have to be more clinical in clearing out and getting the ball away quickly for our backs,” said Dempsey. “Our consistency is a lot better this season but we still have a few elements that need sorting out.
“We have been generally happy with our performances this season – aside of the loss to Connacht in Galway and the one away to Castres – and over in France we know that some of our fundamentals let us down, including conceding far too many turnovers.”