Peter O’Mahony sat back and admired the way Leinster found a way to win their fourth European title but Munster’s captain believes his side have to emulate Racing 92’s attempts to shut down Leo Cullen’s side to cause an upset this weekend.
With their search for a first trophy in seven years hanging in the balance in Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final at the RDS, as Leinster close in on a Champions Cup-league double, O’Mahony could not help but take note of the way their rivals were knocked out of their stride in Bilbao last Saturday.
The Frenchmen kept Leinster tryless, shackling their expansive ambitions and reducing the game to an arm wrestle, only a missed drop goal from replacement fly-half Remi Tales preventing extra-time.
Were it not for injuries to Racing’s preferred playmakers Pat Lambie and Dan Carter the story may have been very different.
Yet the Parisian template was effective and Munster’s captain sees its merits for a repeat this weekend.
“I think you have to (stop Leinster playing). If we want to talk about competing with these guys at the weekend we have to stop it,” O’Mahony said.
“Racing are a very good side and certainly with Casey (Laulala) and Chris Masoe are looking after the defence and they have improved in 12 months, it’s come on leaps and bounds.
“They also have the luxury of falling back on five, six, seven of probably the best poachers in Europe and they catch teams, even when you video it and you video it, they catch teams and steal very important balls.
“There was three or four of them at the weekend and you know Leinster would have done their homework but it’s just very hard to stop at times and they certainly stopped some of the very impressive, open, expansive tries Leinster had scored, but that was going to be the case with a team of Racing’s quality.”
The way Leinster found a different way to win in contrast to their victories against Saracens and Scarlets makes an impressive unit in O’Mahony’s eyes.
“The fact that they were behind but they never ever looked to me like they were going to lose the game,” the flanker said.
“They just seemed very controlled, very processed, never panicked, knew that their fitness was going to stay for 80 minutes and they would have videoed… Racing aren’t very disciplined at times and stuck to their game plan and I thought it was a very controlled, professional performance.
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“People talked beforehand that they would run away with it. A final in Europe is an incredible cauldron, I’d imagine. I know I’ve played in semis and I’ve played in big games in the Six Nations but it’s a different scenario when you’re in that kind of environment. There’s a lot more pressure than there is in anything else.
“I thought they dealt with that incredibly well, they never panicked.” Despite Leinster’s favourite’s tag, O’Mahony refused to be daunted by the task at hand on Saturday in Dublin.
“It’s got to be a challenge, you’ve got to bring it on. If you’re sitting at home worrying about going somewhere at the weekend, you’re in the wrong business. You’ve got to see it as a challenge. Leinster are the team you want to be measuring yourself off.
“We’ve a gameplan, we’ve a structure, we’ll go out and play it.
“We’ll be talking about our performance and what we have to do to go out and win. I don’t want people saying after the weekend: ‘ah, Munster to be fair aren’t far off Leinster’. That’s not what I want.
“If we play well, I want people saying Munster played well, that’s what I want to hear. I don’t want to hear: ‘they’re close enough’.
“Leinster, what they’ve done for the last 12, 18 months, we’re not going to change that in a game.
“That’s the standard they have. We’ve all got to strive to try and get there.”
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