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Silverware Delight For Cheika

Silverware Delight For Cheika

After guiding his side to second and third place finishes in the last two seasons, Leinster coach Michael Cheika was a relieved man at the RDS on Saturday night as the province finally annexed the Magners League title with a impressive 41-8 dismissal of the Dragons.

Speaking after Leinster’s win over the Welsh region, Michael Cheika said: “I tried to fix the mistakes i may have made in the last couple of seasons when perhaps we could have won the title, and that’s an important learning curve for us.

“Even though we were close (to winning the league), you still had a lot of anxiety in the build-up. So it was nice we were able to do it here in front of our home crowd.

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“To win the league at home and in that manner was really great. We were able to get plenty of ball out wide but our forwards laid the groundwork once again.

“(Keith) Gleeson and (Shane) Jennings won so much ball for us on the floor. I thought we controlled our set piece very well.

“There was always a danger that if we gave them a sniff that the Dragons, having no pressure on them, could cause us problems. But we took control of the game very early on and were able to dominate for long periods.”

The six-try triumph was Leinster’s tenth successive win at the RDS. Stringing some impressive results together, Cheika’s charges have beaten Connacht, Ulster, the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Glasgow Warriors, Munster and the Dragons in the league at the RDS, while they also accounted for Leicester, Edinburgh and Toulouse in European action.

That consistent home form has been vital in keeping the province at the league’s summit since December, along with their three notable wins on Welsh soil.

Cheika agreed: “We’ve been more consistent this year. The players were better this year, more adaptable, better equipped when it came to varying our game – particularly when it came to playing in different conditions.

“We weren’t always as expansive as we have been in recent years but we’ve been so consistent. I’ve just been really been pleased with the how we’ve performed throughout the season.”

Saturday’s game marked the final appearances of both Gleeson and Ollie Le Roux in Leinster blue.

After winning 120 Leinster caps during a seven-year spell in Dublin, former Ireland flanker Gleeson is returning to Australia to work in the family business.

Le Roux, the former Springbok prop, is heading home to his native South Africa after a short but fruitful stint with Leinster, during which he became a firm fans’ favourite.

Paying tribute to the pair, who both received ovations from the 17,260-strong crowd, Cheika said: “In one year Ollie has made such a significant impact on Leinster. He’s a brilliant player and he’s still in demand – the (Western) Stormers want him to go back and play Super 14 for the remainder of the season over there.

“He’s been immense and I think he was a bit peeved with me tonight for taking him off early – after he got those two early tries, he wanted to sign off with a hat trick!

“Keith’s just the consummate professional. He was unbelievable at the breakdown tonight. He stayed on his feet the whole game and every time the ball dropped on the ground he was on top of it.

“He won’t be playing next week (away to the Dragons) so that’s his last game for Leinster and I think he went out playing his best football.

He played brilliantly tonight, both of them did and the reception that they got from the fans pretty much said it all.”

The Australian explained that although Leinster fans have likely seen the last of Le Roux as a player, the popular 34-year-old is being lining up to coach some of the province’s young and up-and-coming props.

“We might get him to do some work with our younger props. Maybe we’ll send a few of them down to South Africa to do some scrummaging work with him.

“Ollie really enjoyed his time here and is desperate to stay involved with the team,” Cheika added.

“He found it hard to settle over here at the start, like any foreigner, but, after six or seven months, he really began to love the place.

“As I said, the Stormers want him to play in the remaining fixtures in the Super 14. We’re more than open to that because he’s been such a great servant for us.

“So the decision rests with him really. But either way that’s his last game for Leinster.”