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Leinster locked in on Edinburgh

Tue, 01 Jan 2013 12:14
Joe-schmidt-p Briano_driscollleinster Roddygrantedinburgh2
We're very much focused on Edinburgh
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Leinster coach Joe Schmidt says they will not fall into the trap of overlooking struggling Edinburgh ahead of the teams’ Pro12 clash this weekend.

Schmidt’s charges left him pleased with his side's efforts as they ended a three-match winless stretch with a 17-0 shutout of Connacht at the RDS on Saturday as they head into a big month for the province both in the Pro12 and European Cup competitions.

"I was pleased with the effort from what was a relatively young and inexperienced group of players. We defended well playing into the strong breeze in the first half as Connacht put a lot of pressure on us,” he said.  

“It was a great confidence boost to get seven points just before the interval and we put together some positive phases in the last quarter of the game to build a bit of a buffer on the scoreboard.

"Despite the cold wind, the crowd helped spur the players on as always and it was great to be back at the RDS with the really positive support we receive there.

"With other teams in the top half winning this weekend we didn't lose any ground at least, so we're still just outside the play-off qualification spots. It means we've still got plenty of work to do but at least we're close enough to be in the scramble for the semifinals.”

Edinburgh are coming off back-to-back defeats to Glasgow which saw the Warriors lift the 1872 Cup but Schmidt expects nothing less than a gruelling, close content.   

"We know from experience how difficult it is to win over in Edinburgh. A lot of our players have played under Michael [Bradley] at different levels for Connacht, the Wolfhounds or with the Ireland senior squad when he took interim charge a few years back - and all speak highly of him.

"Edinburgh will be keen to get back to winning ways after their narrow defeats to Glasgow over the Christmas period and they showed real character to come back and almost snatch the win last weekend after Glasgow got away to a flying start.

"Games between ourselves and Edinburgh are always tight affairs. We narrowly beat them earlier in the campaign in the RDS (22-16) and it was nip-and-tuck last season over in Murrayfield when we managed to come out on the right side of a contest that see-sawed right up until the finish (28-36).

"They have a big abrasive set of forwards and proven international performers throughout. With a player like Tim Visser in their ranks, who is racing clear at the top of the try-scoring charts again this year, we can't afford any defensive lapses.

“Greig Laidlaw controls the game for them at either scrumhalf or flyhalf and they have a number of very effective ball carriers led by the likes of Dave Denton and Netani Talei.

"With a short six-day turnaround, the focus in the early part of this week is about nursing knocks and reintegrating players back into the group as a number of players haven't had much game time in recent weeks.

"It can be easy to allow your mind to drift because January is shaping up to be a big month for us in the context of the season across both competitions, but we're very much focused on Edinburgh and what is sure to be another stiff test this weekend."

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