Cheika hits back at critics!

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Cheika hits back at critics!

Postby future international » December 29th, 2008, 2:26 pm

From the independent
LEINSTER showed their Magners League champions credentials with a hard-earned victory over Ulster at Ravenhill on Saturday to move them into third place and keep the pressure on leaders Munster.

Having taken much criticism following previous defeats in the Magners League and a loss away to Castres in the Heineken Cup, Leinster coach Michael Cheika and man of the match Rocky Elsom refused to do television interviews with Setanta Sports after the match.

Setanta Sports confirmed that Cheika had refused to speak to them due to an article published by pundit Neil Francis about Leinster's performance against Castres in the Heineken Cup.

However, they did speak to the press and Cheika remarked that in spite of the win he was certain the team would cop flak again.

"This was an important result after the Castres defeat," said Cheika. "It is always difficult to come to Ravenhill and win, it really is a hard place to grind out a result. But we did.

"We have copped a lot of flack recently and I am sure we will cop a lot more come Monday morning. It seems to be the way everyone wants it to work."

Leinster scored two second-half tries as they came from 7-3 down at the break having dominated most of the front 40.

Cheika said: "There is a lot of self-belief in our team and it was always going to be a tough match for us. Everyone was just waiting to stick the knife in a bit more.

"But we kept our composure okay. We could have done a few things better, but I am more than happy with the win.

"Good to see Gordon D'Arcy back. It has almost been a year and I had not planned on him playing the whole game, but he did well and the match time will certainly help him as he makes more steps forwards.

"Overall the team performed well. It is matter of believing in our play and we have players due to come back from injury, so hopefully we will have a full squad to pick from very soon."

The kicking game was the main difference, with Ulster often wayward with the boot while Leinster got greater distance and more precision.

Cheika said: "We kicked well and kept the ball deep in their half. We probably need to identify our opportunities when we are on the front foot.

"We had a lot of patience with our build-up. It was important we won to keep the pressure on Munster at the top of the table and stay in touch with them.


"We just need to keep getting points now until Six Nations time and see where we sit then. We are very aware of our position in our league and we want to make sure we are within touching distance so that when the last bout of games comes around we can really defend our title."

Leinster had dominated the game throughout with possession and territory, but had come up against an outstanding Ulster rearguard.

However, it was Ulster who held a 7-3 lead at the interval after a piece of magic by Darren Cave saw him take a curved run around the outside and he raced in near the posts to leave Ian Humphreys with a simple conversion after 25 minutes. Leinster's Felipe Contepomi had put his side ahead with a seventh-minute penalty, but he missed two other efforts in the first half.

Four minutes into the second half Leinster struck a huge blow when Elsom went over for a try, converted by Contepomi to make it 10-8. Humphreys did draw Ulster level, and he exchanged a further penalty with Contepomi to leave the game poised at 13-13 with 10 minutes to go.

But it was Leinster who were to strike the match-winning try when quick ball from a ruck was flung right and replacement winger Simon Keogh went in for the unconverted try.

Contepomi then banged over a penalty to push them two scores ahead at 21-13. Humphreys had a long range penalty attempt from inside his own half in stoppage time, which would have at least salvaged a losing bonus point, but it was wide and short.

Ulster coach Matt Williams was bitterly disappointed to have got nothing out of the game at all.

"We could have won that game and I feel the effort put in by the guys was deserving of something. Our defensive effort was particularly good. We have progressed, but tonight our kicking game was poor and Leinster's was very good.

"They pinned us back in our own half. We needed to be doing that to them. Then in the second half we lost a bit of patience with ourselves. We ran the ball from under our own sticks four or five times and then did a chip kick. It was just madness.

"Our defence was superb, but we lacked in offence and it is something we are going to have to work on. We scored a great try tonight and we left another one on the pitch when Stephen Ferris burst through but had no support. There should have been someone on his shoulder.

"But I also know that if we go to Limerick next week and our defence plays as well again, then we can take something away from Munster."

Ulster -- B Cunningham (C Schikofske ht); T Nagusa, D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble; I Humphreys, I Boss; J Fitzpatrick (T Court 48), R Best (capt), B Botha, E O'Donoghue, M McCullough, S Ferris (T

Anderson 69), R Diack, D Pollock (K Dawson 61).

Leinster -- G Dempsey (S Keogh 47); G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald, F Contepomi, R Kearney; I Nacewa, C Whitaker (capt, C Keane 80); C Healy, J Fogarty (B Blaney 76), S Wright (R McCormack 42), T Hogan (M O'Kelly 54), D Toner,. R Elsom (Stephen Keogh 63), J Heaslip, S O'Brien

Ref -- G Clancy (IRFU).

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