'Vulnerable' Leinster eye escape route
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 11:13
It's dog-eat-dog at this stage
Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted his side is still "vulnerable" as they try to conjure up an escape route into the European Cup quarterfinals to keep alive hopes of making it three titles in a row.
Not even a five-try, bonus point win over the Scarlets could lift Schmidt's spirits as he contemplated a sixth round trip to Sandy Lane to face Exeter Chiefs.
Nothing less than a bonus point win there is likely to be good enough to throw the champions a last eight lifeline.
"There were at least two more tries we should have got, one more where I felt there was good space and the ball was knocked down.
"There is frustration, but the reality is we are where we are and this is what we can plan to do and try to execute it," said Schmidt.
"Leicester and Toulouse are both ahead of us but they have got to play each other. They can nullify that a little bit. I have a lot of respect for [Montpellier coach] Fabien Galthie, but I would like to see him beaten.
"It's dog-eat-dog at this stage of the competition really. We are very vulnerable to teams getting two five-pointers and us then trying to work our way back to the RDS for a European Challenge Cup final. That would be tough enough because some of those clubs who have qualified are tough."
The Chiefs were only beaten 9-6 in Dublin on their European Cup debut in Round One and their coach, Rob Baxter, has promised his team will rise to the occasion when they host Leinster, despite their 46-3 drubbing in Clermont.
"I won't have to lift the players at all. They are hurting from Clermont and are a proud bunch who will want to prove a point," said Baxter.
"Clermont is a fantastic place to play rugby and that was one of the most challenging matches we will encounter. It was a real tough lesson for us, but there's two ways you take it - you can doubt yourself or you look at fantastic results in the past and move on.
"We have to learn from this and improve, instead of being down on ourselves. There's no instant fixes and we have to take steps.
"We had our moments in the game and we didn't quite see them off. The reality of it is we have come up against a very good side, not only a team with very good individual players, but a team who play a good brand of rugby.
"It's not the big drama some people might think it is. There are some very good teams in the competition and Clermont are certainly one of them."
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