O’Connor baffled by Cronin binning

Leinster 29 Ospreys 29

O’Connor baffled by Cronin binning

The professional game may still be in its infancy but already there is a fair bit of history between these two sides and with a couple of Heineken Cup clashes to come as well this season, this was a timely reminder, even from two understrength sides, that there is a lot to savour in the game.

Saturday’s clash was also another firm reminder that the scrum still needs a lot of sorting out. The change to the law has undoubtedly improved the flow of the game but referees have been very inconsistent in the application over the opening two weekends of the Pro12.

Replacement hooker Sean Cronin was sin-binned 15 minutes from time, five metres from the Ospreys line, for an alleged scrum infringement but most were baffled by the decision, not least new Leinster coach Matt O’Connor.

“I think we’ve got some issues, globally. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it really quickly because it’s an ongoing level of frustration for the players and there has to be some sort of strong leadership and clarity really quickly.”

He might have wanted to say more but felt he couldn’t. One reporter suggested he could speak freely now, that it wasn’t the English Premiership he was involved in, but he didn’t take the bait.

“Can’t comment, it is very costly if I comment,” he said. Had he ever seen a hooker binned five metres from the line? “No, that’s a first and hopefully I don’t see it again,” he said.

Leinster should have been more than 16-9 in front at the break and then did well to get back into the match after falling seven points down with Cronin in the bin.

But they rallied, hit the front and then had victory snatched away in the final play when Dan Biggar converted his seventh kick from as many attempts.

“The guys really enjoyed being back home and the support they got from the fans was brilliant. You’ve got to turn the screws when you’re that far in front and full credit to them. They fought their way back into it well but you have got to capitalise,” said O’Connor.

He revealed skipper Leo Cullen had undergone surgery on an Achilles injury in Sweden during the week and would be sideline for another four weeks.

Leinster, who did not risk Luke Fitzgerald because of a hamstring injury, crossed for the opening try when the impressive loosehead Jack McGrath put hooker Richardt Strauss over.

Then new out-half Jimmy Gopperth, who continues to make a big impact, sent Dave Kearney over, with a drop goal from Gopperth pushing the champions 16-3 in front after 24 minutes.

But the accurate boot of Biggar kept Ospreys in touch and the introduction of the Jones brothers, Adam and Duncan, at the break helped the visitors get on top.

Ospreys took control and struck for two tries in three minutes from Joe Bearman and Ashley Beck, with Biggar converting both to push Ospreys 26-19 in front. Cronin was then controversially binned but they hit back as McGrath crossed.

Gopperth converted to make it 26-26 and then edged them in front before Biggar snatched a late draw at the end of a highly entertaining clash.

Scorers for Leinster: Tries: R Strauss, D Kearney, J McGrath; Cons: J Gopperth; Pens: J Gopperth (3); Drops: J Gopperth.

Scorers for Ospreys: Tries: J Bearman, A Beck; Cons: D Biggar (2); Pens: D Biggar (5).

LEINSTER: D Kearney; D Fanning, B Macken, G D’Arcy, D Hudson (I Madigan 7); J Gopperth, E Reddan (I Boss 64); J McGrath, R Strauss (S Cronin 51), M Ross (M Moore 60), D Toner, M McCarthy (T Denton 72), K McLaughlin (R Ruddock 38-40 blood), S Jennings (capt), J Murphy (R Ruddock 57) (Murphy 64 blood).

OSPREYS: R Fussell; B John (J Hassler 76), A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, T Tebaldi; R Bevington (D Jones 41), S Baldwin (R Hibbard 57), J Rees (A Jones 41); I Evans (T Ardron 54), J King, T Smith (capt), S Lewis, J Bearman (M Allen 70).

Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU).

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