Schmidt grateful for Sarries' gifts
January 15, 2011
Shane Jennings fends off Nils Mordt's attemtped tackle during the Heineken Cup clash © PA Photos
Leinster may have delighted the home crowd with a superb six-try defeat of Saracens at the RDS, but head coach Joe Schmidt still wants more from his players.
The 43-20 victory, which included tries from Sean O'Brien, Dominic Ryan (2), Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa and Eoin O'Malley, catapulted Schmidt's men into the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.
They boast a five-point lead over second-placed Clermont Auvergne in Pool 2 and beat the French side in terms of the head-to-head - five points to four. The Irish province cantered into an early 12-0 lead, but failed to use the advantage of a big wind as Saracens were still in the hunt at half-time, trailing 22-12.
Schmidt said: "I thought we got off to a fantastic start. The first two tries we scored were superb. Conditions were very tough out there and to get the 12 points up was fantastic but then to allow them back into the game so easily into the gale, was very, very frustrating.
"A crucial thing for us was to score just before half-time (through Dominic Ryan). There was some really good concentration and co-ordination that went into that and that allowed us to go into half-time with the buffer we needed to give us the confidence to take another step."
James Short and Kelly Brown touched down for Saracens in the opening half, but by the time Nils Mordt added a third in the 83rd minute, Leinster were out of sight.
Schmidt added: "I'm delighted to get the result we did and delighted with some of the play that we managed to construct and finish to get the six tries. At the same time, we know it wasn't a perfect performance and Saracens probably lost a little bit of interest toward the middle part of the second half.
"I wouldn't say they offered up soft tries but some of the tries came relatively, relatively easily. I guess the reality is next week is a whole different ball game again. It's a six day turnaround and there are a number of things we still need to work on."
With qualification achieved, Schmidt's focus now turns to getting a win in Paris next week against Racing Metro to secure home advantage at the quarter-final stage.
He said: "We know we have to win in Paris to get a quarter final back home. We will certainly endeavour to do that. We have put ourselves into a position now that we would be crazy not to (go for a win in Paris).
"I'm delighted with where we are and it's about keeping our feet on the ground and not wasting the opportunity that we have got next Friday night in Paris."
Saracens, who were all but eliminated before kick-off, now set their sights on the Aviva Premiership and their director of rugby Mark McCall admitted afterwards that his side were given 'some harsh lessons' by Leinster.
He said: "We came up against a top quality side who are on top of their game and it has shown us that this competition is pretty unforgiving. If you lose concentration for a second, which is what we did in the first half defensively, they have the power runners and quality to score tries.
"We thought at 15-12 with five minutes to go to half-time, with the wind at our backs in the second half, we were in a decent position - but unfortunately we were a bit naive.
"In some ways, we are a relatively new Heineken Cup team and this whole experience in this pool has been one of learning for us. It shows us we are not where we want to be.
"We aspire to be like the Leinsters, the Munsters and the Leicesters, and we have a way to go to get there."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter