|London Irish will have that Monday morning feeling
||[May. 18th, 2009|12:14 pm]
Peter Bills' Wide World of Sport
It's Monday morning and if ever a team will have that Monday morning feeling it's London Irish.
They did enough to win any Premiership final at Twickenham on Saturday and just blew it through a series of flawed decisions. The Irish showed white line fever time and again, individuals dashing for the line instead of off-loading to colleagues who might well have scored. Either that, or just patiently keep the ball and keep grinding closer to the score which would probably have been enough.
Time and again, Irish hammered away at the Leicester defences but lacked the poise and patience to make it count. They also made some crazy decisions that ultimately cost them the game in a 10-9 defeat.
For example, captain Bob Casey's flawed decision just before half time to take a scrum rather than kick at goal from inside the Leicester 22. Sure, there were reasons for Casey's decision. His goal kickers had already missed some important penalties and Leicester were down to 14 with Jordan Crane's 10 minutes in the sin bin for a cynical offence.
But points are what win Cup finals. Irish simply had to get points on the board and keep doing so, to ensure they turned possession and position into something firm. They largely failed to do that and paid the price in this final.
Peter Hewat's shocking penalty miss in the first half when he hit a post from inside the 22 was another hugely costly moment for Irish. So too was Hewat's poor kick through in the second half when Irish were again on top. It went straight into the hands of Scott Hamilton who smacked it back downfield and Irish lost 60 metres. Moments like that are hugely influential in a final.
So Leicester scrambled home and all credit to them. Irish had the chances but kept missing them; Leicester's combativeness and spirit never flagged. They also had the excellent Julien Dupuy at scrum half to keep their fires burning.
Perhaps it was just the Exiles' lack of experience on the big stage that made all the difference. Certainly, they'll wake up this morning full of aches, pains and regrets...