Leinster coach Matt O’Connor agreed this was an ideal test ahead of their crunch European Rugby Champions Cup encounter against Harlequins next, but is well aware of areas that require improvement.
“It’s always good to get a hit out of that standard against a very, very good Ospreys side — even down on personnel. They’re abrasive, they’re physical and they made us work very, very hard,” O’Connor said.
“From that end, there’s some good lessons. There’s some good review material there to make sure that we are exactly where we need to be next week. We’ve probably got to put together a little bit more pressure in the opposition half. We probably didn’t put them (Ospreys) under enough pressure, especially in the first half. We’ve got to get entry into their half, we’ve got to control the ball a bit better and (Harlequins) must be very, very accurate in stopping us.”
In a strangely subdued outing, Sam Davies gave Ospreys the lead from a 7th minute penalty. This was quickly cancelled out by a similar Madigan effort, however, and slowly but surely Leinster gained a foothold.
Successful place-kicks from Madigan in the 17th and 22nd minutes edged the hosts in front, but Ospreys persevered with their challenge, and a further six points from Davies had the sides level at the interval.
Aisea Natoga crossed over for the visitors two minutes after the restart, but much to the relief of the Leinster faithful, referee Marius Mitrea ruled scrum-half Martin Roberts’s final pass had gone forward.
After failing to recover from an earlier injury, Madigan’s place in the centre for the second period was taken by Gordon D’Arcy, and from his first attempt, deputising kicker Gopperth split the posts from close-range.
A fourth Davies strike kept the tie in the melting pot moving into the final quarter, and it took a brace of late Gopperth kicks to finally place the outcome Ospreys.
In addition to Madigan, Tom Denton and Kane Douglas also picked up knocks while Mike McCarthy and Isaac Boss were late withdrawals from the match-day squad.
Although Leinster’s cause hasn’t been helped by their growing list of absentees, O’Connor is under no illusion about the task that awaits them in Twickenham Stoop next Sunday.
“We’ve used a hell of a lot of players. We haven’t had the luxury of picking settled combinations, but at the same time, it gives you a broader group to pick from. Harlequins have had guys in a test environment as well.
“They’ve been a little bit disjointed, so I wouldn’t read too much into their results over the last period. We need to make sure we’re as good as we can be next Sunday.”
Scorers for Leinster: I Madigan, J Gopperth 3 pens each.
Scorers for Ospreys: S Davies 4 pens.
LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, F McFadden, I Madigan, D Kearney; J Gopperth, E Reddan; M Bent, B Byrne, T Furlong; T Denton, K Douglas; D Ryan, J Murphy, J Conan.
Replacements: B Marshall for Denton (35), G D’Arcy for Madigan (h-t), R Ruddock for Murphy (55), J Hagan for Furlong (65), Murphy for Douglas (66).
OSPREYS: D Evans; A Natoga, A Bishop, H Dirksen, T Grabham; S Davies, M Roberts; M Thomas, S Parry, D Arhip; L Peers, T Ardron; J Bearman, S Lewis, D Baker.
Replacements: I Jones for Baker (28), R Bernardo for Lewis (32-36), C Griffiths for Arhip (51), S Otten for Parry, G Thomas for M Thomas (both 59), D Howells for Grabham (62), J Matavesi for Dirksen (66), Bernardo for Bearman (68).
Referee: M Mitrea (FIR).