by Frank Schnittger
Sat May 20th, 2017 at 11:27:25 AM EST
Leinster 15 Scarlets 27
Those of us who have ever played competitive sport have been there: You start off confident, perhaps even complacent, because everyone tells you you are the overwhelming favourite.
Things go well enough to begin with and you have a try disallowed for a marginal forward pass. Ah well, we'll get another chance.
Then Scarlets score an excellent breakaway try, Adam Byrne shooting up and missing his man. Proper order is restored by an outstanding Leinster try with Ringrose winning his personal duel with Lions, man, Davies.
But Scarlets score two more excellent breakaway tries - perhaps with a hint of forward passes, but there is no denying the quality of their play. Leinster dominate possession and territory, but Scarlets score every time they enter the Leinster 22.
You begin to think this is not going to go your day. You miss a couple of scoring chances. Key players are getting injured. Some of the refs decisions seem to be going against you as well. Scarlets seem to be going off their feet and slowing Leinster ball with impunity. You can't make your scrum dominance count.
Then you get a break. Evan's gets a tackle badly wrong and gets a red card even though the tackle was without malice. Them's the rules. But you butcher the subsequent chance off a line-out and its half time.
14 Man Scarlets come out like a team possessed. They tackle everyone and everything in sight. You make mistakes, and the harder you try the more mistakes you seem to make.
Every mistake causes more loss of territory and more delays for set pieces cleverly exploited by Scarlets. They manage to get under your skin, and your moves just aren't coming off. Time is running short so you try even more Hail Mary moves which work even less well.
Confidence is draining out of your collective system. Players don't trust each other any more and try to do in all on their own. Scarlets are lapping it up and gaining in confidence and belief all the time.
In the end, time just runs out. You remain convinced you could have done it in another 10 minutes. Or Just like against Clermont, if only you hadn't started so badly.
You have to suck it up and put it down to experience. The only problem is some players are running out of time and sometimes you don't get a second chance.
Sometimes you just have to admit you were second best. And that is the hardest thing of all to admit. It hurts. Physically. Next time you won't be so over-confident.