“Fine margins” was the commonly used expression coming out of the Leinster camp in the aftermath of their loss to Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup final.
And it’s not surprising.
Saracens were the better team on the day and they deserved their victory over the course of the 80 minutes but Leinster will look back at some crucial moments, especially on either side of halftime, with regret.
The decision to keep the ball in play with the clock in the red signalling the break while Leinster had a 10-3 lead proved disastrous and has come under scrutiny.
A penalty concession from there and Saracens were up the other end of the field where they laid siege to the Leinster line. A heroic effort from Luke McGrath prevented the bulldozing Jamie George from crossing under the posts but at this stage, the men in red had generated space out wide and the ball was whipped from Ben Spencer to Owen Farrell.
That’s where Jordan Larmour had to make a decision.
Larmour shot out of the line to tackle Farrell man and ball but the speed of the delivery from Spencer and the excellent tip-on pass from the England out-half meant that Larmour’s efforts were in vain.
If Larmour makes the tackle and stops Farrell before he releases the ball, he’s the hero. If not, well, sport can be cruel.
“Looking back on it, I probably could have got out to Maitland and not gone for Owen Farrell but they’re the decisions you live by,” Larmour told the media on Monday.
“In that moment in time, I backed myself to get him [Farrell] and obviously it didn’t happen, but it’s the small margins.”
When Larmour spoke to the media, 48 hours had not yet elapsed since the 21-year-old watched on as Brad Barritt lifted the Champions Cup trophy – naturally, it still stings.
“Still pretty gutted, to be honest. I think all the lads are. In the big games, it’s the small margins that win or lose you the game. We’ll look at it this afternoon and we’ll go through it. Now it’s about taking the learnings from it and moving on because there’s a massive game this weekend in front of a sold-out RDS.”
All players are different in how they respond to disappointment. Some like to move on and forget about it but Larmour sees the value in going back and reviewing footage, even if it may be difficult.
“It’s kind of tough as it’s always playing up at the back of your mind, but I find going back through the game helps. Sit down with the coaches and go through your own game and pick out parts you can improve on. It kind of helps you get over it.”
The main focus now for Larmour and his teammates is the challenge of hosting Munster at the RDS this Saturday in the PRO14 semi-final and the winger is expecting another tough battle.
“Last season was incredible and this season we set out our goals, we said we wanted to be European champions and obviously we fell a bit short, but there’s still a massive game this weekend against Munster. That’s what our focus is on this week and hopefully, we’ll do the job there.”
“They’ve had two weeks to prepare so they’ll be chomping at the bit now to get going but always with Munster, they’re very physical. Good line speed, good numbers on feet and then with the backs they have, they can rip you apart so we’ll have to have a good look at them this afternoon and see where we can exploit them and come up with a game plan to beat them.”