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Ospreys won breakdown battle admits Gibbes

Guinness PRO12 Editor

30 May 2010

Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes admitted his side lost the battle of the breakdown in Saturday’s Magners League Grand Final defeat to the Ospreys.

The Dubliners were beaten 17-12 at the RDS as they missed out on securing a third trophy in three seasons following European success last year and Magners League glory the season before.

Jonathan Sexton kicked all of his side’s points in the inaugural showpiece as Leinster failed to secure as much quick ball as they would have liked.

Much had been made of the battle between the star-studded back rows prior to kick off and Gibbes was honest enough to say that it was the Ospreys who cam out on top in that department.

“They were pretty well drilled in that area,” said Gibbes in relation to the breakdown.

“We perhaps weren’t as accurate as we needed to be, particularly at the first support player.

“Marty (Holah, the Ospreys openside) is pretty effective at getting back up on his feet and playing the ball and we didn’t deal with him as well as we should have.

“As a consequence, some of our phases got slowed down. We still recycled the ball but that slowing down allowed their defence to get its shape. I’d say that if you asked them, they probably felt pretty comfortable in defence.”

Leinster’s caused wasn’t helped by an unfortunate spate of injuries that saw their own back row resources stretched to breaking point.

After watching blindside Kevin McLaughlin leave the field with a leg injury with only half an hour on the clock, Leinster then lost his replacement Stephen Keogh just two minutes into the second half.

To make matters worse for the table toppers, skipper Shane Jennings was forced to depart with 13 minutes remaining, forcing substitute hooker Richard Strauss to step on to the openside flank.

In stark contrast, the Ospreys’ one back-row change came out of choice rather than necessity.

Having started with a formidable-looking trio of former All Blacks Jerry Collins and Marty Holah and Wales captain Ryan Jones, the visitors replaced their skipper with the retiring Filo Tiatia who himself had an impressive impact in the closing stages.

“Jenno’s injury was unfortunate,” added Gibbes, who won eight caps for New Zealand and almost moved to the Ospreys in 2006.

“Richardt has a background of playing openside before converting to hooker. It wasn’t our first choice going into the game but, in the end, Jenno’s run around on one leg and we kinda had no choice there.

“Filo’s impact was significant and our back row was a bit patched together toward the end. It’s obviously a nice luxury to be able to bring someone who’s so iconic.

“Filo’s a talisman for them. He brings a lot to the game. I know Marty pretty well and, speaking to him before the game, they were pretty focused on making sure they sent Filo off in the right manner.”