Leinster finished the pre-season campaign with a 24-8 defeat to London Irish in a physical encounter in front of a packed Donnybrook stadium on Friday evening…Michael Cheika Post Match Reaction…
Speaking after the match, Leinster Coach Michael Cheika commented: “London Irish are a quality team and you don’t finish in second place in the Premiership unless you’re a quality outfit.
“I thought that we did ok in the second half, but there’s a long way to October (the Heineken Cup first round game). We’re probably behind the likes of Llanelli (in terms of preparation) but we have to prep ourselves next week for a tough game in Wales.”
OZO Man of the Match Isa Nacewa touched down with the opening score of the match after some smart inter-play with Shane Horgan after four minutes, but three Ryan Lamb penalties – on 10, 20 and 26 minutes pushed the visitors into a 9-5 advantage.
There were some impressive cameos for the hosts in the first half with Stephen Keogh and Sean O’Brien showing real aggression alongside the industrious Shane Jennings.
Though the hosts threatened sporadically, it was the Exiles who showed greater potency in attack and they had Steffon Armitage (34 mins) and a penalty try, which Lamb converted into the Wesley end, to thank for their 21-5 half-time lead.
Leinster made a raft of substitutions in the second half as a number of players from Ireland’s Churchill Cup campaign made their first starts of the season and a Jonathan Sexton penalty on 58 minutes was just reward for a spell of Leinster pressure. Fergus McFadden made a string of daring breaks, while substitute Kevin McLaughlin also impressed in the second half.
However a late Lamb penalty restored the visitors’ 16-point advantage and though the result was disappointing, it was a good physical workout ahead of the start of the Magners League campaign next weekend.
LEINSTER SCORERS: I. Nacewa (1 try), J. Sexton (1 penalty)
LONDON IRISH SCORERS: S. Armitage, Penalty (1 try each), R. Lamb (4 penalties, 1 conversion)
15: Niall Morris (Girvan Dempsey, 23)
14: Shane Horgan (Stephen Keogh, 76)
13: Fergus McFadden
12: Shaun Berne
11: Isa Nacewa
10: Jonathan Sexton
9: Simon Keogh (Paul O’Donohoe, 31) (David Moore, 61)
1: Ronan McCormack (Cian Healy, half-time)
2: Bernard Jackman (John Fogarty, half-time)
3: Stan Wright (Mike Ross, 61)
4: Leo Cullen CAPTAIN (Malcolm O’Kelly, 56)
5: Devin Toner
6: Sean O’Brien (Kevin McLaughlin, half-time)
7: Shane Jennings
8: Stephen Keogh (Billy Ngawini, 74)
REPLACEMENTS NOT USED: Jason Harris-Wright, Eoin Sheriff, Chris Keane, Brendan Macken
15: Peter Hewat (Australia)
14: Marcus Watson
13: Delon Armitage
12: Seilala Mapusua (Samoa)
11: Sailosi Tagicakibau (Samoa)
10: Ryan Lamb
9: Paul Hodgson
1: Clarke Dermody (New Zealand) CAPTAIN
2: Danie Coetzee (South Africa)
3: Paulica Ion (Romania)
4: Andy Perry
5: Nick Kennedy
6: Declan Danaher
7: Steffon Armitage
8: Chris Hala’Ufia (Tonga)
REPLACEMENTS: Dan Murphy, James Buckland, Faan Rautenbach (South Africa), Kieran Roche, Richard Thorpe, George Stowers (Samoa), Alfredo Lalanne (Argentina), Jamie Lennard, Charlie Gower, Peter Richards
REFEREE: George Clancy (IRFU), SUB REFEREE: Alan Rogan (IRFU), TOUCH JUDGE: Paul Haycock (IRFU), 4th OFFICIAL: Danny Wallace (ARLB), 5th OFFICIAL: Gary Glennon (ARLB)