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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Bring on Twickers: Joe Schmidt prefers Leinster semi-final in England

Coach declares that he has no preference for Saracens or Clermont but would relish semi date at Twickenham

Joe Schmidt and Leo Cullen know how daunting a semi-final at Twickenham would be
Joe Schmidt and Leo Cullen know how daunting a semi-final at Twickenham would be
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt will turn his nose up at the red wine delights of France in favour of the bristling atmosphere of a Saracens semi-final at Twickenham.

The New Zealander professed his joy at his side’s opening 60 minutes against Cardiff but was adamant that Leinster have no playing preference for Heineken Cup semi-final opponents.

He said, “We know we have to be better in the semi-final, whether it is against Saracens or Clermont Auvergne. Playing and winning away in a semi doesn’t happen that often.” Schmidt added:

One of the great things about Twickenham would be the massive Irish support. A number of London-based Irish people would come out as I think they identify with Leinster and, certainly, the Irish provinces. It is an easy place to get to. Bordeaux (the other potential venue) is a little further away. There is some nice red wine there and it might tempt people to go over a couple of days before the actual match.

Improvement on Munster win

The Leinster coach was pleased that Leinster were clinical with try-scoring opportunities in the opening 60 minutes. “We had seven line breaks last week against Munster but didn’t score off any of them,” he added.

Schmidt pointed out, post-match, that Cardiff had endured a difficult week. The Welsh side lost Jamie Roberts to a season-ending injury while Gavin Henson’s contract was terminated after shenanigans on a flight from Glasgow. The Leinster coach added:

It was nice to score those tries in the first half. If we are looking to take the next step up, as we say, I would have been looking for at least one more score in the second half. It will be a lot tougher in three weeks’ time. Either Saracens or Clermont will not let us away as lightly.

The Cardiff coaching staff bemoaned their sides’ lack of ball retention but paid credit to Leinster’s fierce commitment at the breakdown. Justin Burnell commented, “They were constantly playing on the front foot. They have world class players that were coming at us at a rate of knots.”

Saracens and Clermont Auvergne do battle in the final Heineken Cup semi-final on Sunday at Vicarage Road – The Score will be covering the match live from 4pm onwards.

As it happened: Leinster v Cardiff, Heineken Cup

Rated: We mark Leinster out of 10

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