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We’re Facing Into A Massive Challenge – Schmidt

We’re Facing Into A Massive Challenge – Schmidt

The next month of games will make or break Leinster’s season said head coach Joe Schmidt following their 27-19 RaboDirect PRO12 defeat to Ulster at Ravenhill.

“We have run out of time almost in both competitions,” said Joe Schmidt after watching his charges fall to their third straight defeat in successive weeks.

“We really do have to start accumulating some points and getting some positive results and that is a massive challenge for us.”

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Leinster face Connacht and Edinburgh in the RaboDirect PRO12 over the coming weeks before crucial European matches against the Scarlets (home) and Exeter Chiefs (away) as their Heineken Cup hopes hang by a thread.

Before then Schmidt hopes to rectify the errors that cost them in Belfast. Leading 9-6 and with an unconvincing scrum, Leinster then conceded a penalty try (converted by Ruan Pienaar) as Ulster went in at the break 13-9 ahead.

“I think the try just after half-time, awarded to Nick Williams, was probably the turning point. At that stage, we fought back from a few first half nightmares and felt we were still in the game,” he explained.

“There was only at that stage a one-point margin – 13-12 – but that just put it outside the seven-point margin (20-12) and you are kind of chasing the game a bit.”

A further try from Andrew Trimble put the result beyond doubt before Fergus McFadden touched down late on for Leinster.

Schmidt will look to returning backs Eoin O’Malley and David Kearney, who he lost due to injury on Wednesday, to revive the province’s fortunes post-Christmas.

Eight players from last week’s Leinster ‘A’ game were in the matchday 23 at Ravenhill, and Schmidt is also understandably keen to get the likes of  Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney, who both returned to training in recent days, back in blue as soon as possible.

“No disrespect to the younger guys but we are getting down the food chain a little bit, so it would be nice to get some of our experienced guys back – just to give us a sense of calm out there,” he admitted.

“I think there were a few decisions we took that weren’t great, then we started to put pressure on ourselves as well as a good side like Ulster put pressure on you.”