IT WAS A season filled with high points but Leinster’s year ended on a bum note at the RDS today.
Ospreys Welsh rugby great Shane Williams scored a try two minutes from time to end his stellar competitive club career with a fairytale 31-30 win over the European Cup holders.
The 35-year-old wing – scorer of a record 58 tries in 87 Wales appearances and IRB world player of the year in 2008 – scored two tries in the match with his second coming in the far right hand corner and requiring a superb conversion from fly-half Dan Biggar. His first had come on his normal left flank 20 mintues before as he somehow squeezed through the equivalent of a mouse hole to touch down but they still trailed 30-21 in the 61st minute.
However, a penalty by Biggar followed by Willams’s second try and the former’s conversion saw them edge their hosts and collect an historic fourth Celtic League trophy — for Leinster it was their third successive defeat in the final and takes the shine of their win in Twickenham eight days ago.
“It wasn’t for the lack of effort,” Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt said afterwards. “I thought the players really worked very, very hard out there. We scored some nice tries but were worn down particularly due to having two periods of 14 men — it just means in this heat you’ve got to work that much harder and we’re pretty bemused by the rulings but we’re just going to abide by it. But it’s a pretty tough one to take.”
Asked by Clare McNamarra on RTÉ afterwards if the sin-binning of prop White was crucial to the outcome, Schmidt replied: ”I don’t know… maybe shoulders above hips they might want to have a look at. Because it’s impossible for us to keep the scrum up by ourselves. We’re really disappointed with that, we actually got a couple of good scrums on the second half but got no reward ourselves. And to say we’re gutted is a understatement.
“It’s a bitter pill to take on the end of what has been a really good season. It took us 49 players to get us where we were today and unfortunately not all of them could take the field but their disappointment will be shared across all 49 players.
“And we are all very, very disappointed,” he added.