New Leinster Lions coach Gary Ella is wondering what his team have to do to get a win this season after seeing his side squader a 14 point lead against Edinburgh in Donnybrook on Friday.
New Leinster Lions coach Gary Ella is wondering what his team have to do to get a win this season. The 2001 Celtic League champions were cruising against Edinburgh at Donnybrook on Friday night – 14 points ahead with barely 15 minutes left – but fell to an injury-time Brendan Laney penalty goal from the halfway line.
“We keep getting ourselves in a good position, but we can’t finish them off,” the former Australian Test three-quarter lamented after the 33-30 thriller.
“Friday night was a particularly hard loss because we were in a position where we should have won. They played some good football to come back, but we couldn’t understand some of the refereeing decisions, to be fair.”
Ella said there would be no problems getting his players up for this weekend’s Celtic Cup quarter-final against Ulster.
“We’re looking forward to Ulster – you don’t have to get the boys up for a local derby like this. We’re shattered after the weekend, but we’ll be ready for the Ravenhill game.
“I’ve got a series of Ulster tapes, and I’ll watch them over the coming days to sort out a game plan. It’s my homework for the week.”
The Lions coach admits that losing 10 frontline players doesn’t make his job any easier, but is pleased with the performance of his starting XV.
“We’ve been in a position to win all these matches this season, and I’m not upset by the way we’ve played. Our defence has been mostly excellent, and we’ve gone close in each game.
“Getting bonus points for losses is like kissing your grandmother a bit, but they could be handy at the end of the season. This province is a victim of its own success. The more successful you are, the more players you lose to the World Cup. But the fans and the management understand that, and they’ve been excellent and supportive. The World Cup guys won’t be back for ages, so we’re just getting on with the players we’ve got.”
His fellow countryman, Alan Gaffney had quite the opposite experience in Swansea on Saturday in that his side gifted the Ospreys an eighteen point lead and then staged a marvellous come-back that ended with three tries and a two point haul. Gaffney expressed mixed emotions about the performance pointint to, ‘the couple of soft scores we gave away’ as being crucial to the outcome.
” In the end I was delighted with the two points and even more with he way the side hauled themselvers back into the game. That score at the start of the second half was a real sickener. It was a case of players getting their signals wrong but it left us with a mountain to climb. Now we didn’t quite reach the top but you’d have to be a bit pleased with the effort that was made.”
Munster take themselves to Scotland at the weekend for a Celtic Cup game against Glasgow Rugby who had their feathers ruffled in no uncertain fashion by Connacht, who dished out a 30-19 defeat to the Scottish regional side. It was a victory that points up the progress that new coach Michael Bradley has made in the short time he has been west of the Shannon. However, Bradley and his troops face their biggest challenge of the season to date when they travel to Wales to take on the mighty Llanelli Scarlets in Stradey Park on Friday (7.05).