Leinster – Double Success
Leinster completed the double this past weekend by defeating the defending champions The Scarlets 40-32. The scoreline may suggest a close game but this contest was over at half time as Leinster lead 21-11.
This was another masterful display that was build on teak tough defence and was full of imagination in attack and this was brought to the fore in particular by the solo try from Ireland’s rising star Jordan Larmour who kicked the ball clear and chased it down then took it up one handed very O’Driscoll esque and scampered clear to dot down.
Leinster just about saw off Munster in the RDS two weeks ago and did very well to get themselves into this contest so early although in the early exchanges it was tit for tat between Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Sexton who traded penalties early on until Devin Toner crashed over for a try.
By then the Leinster attack had set about nullifying the Scarlets strong attack that 12 months earlier had dismantled Munster inside the opening half an hour, no such luck 12 months on as Leinster made sure that they didn’t give the Scarlets a sniff and as this game wore on Leinster superiority in many departments began to tell and the Scarlets began to run out of ideas while also trying to run the ball from deep in their own 22 and this played straight into the hands of men like Sexton , Ringrose and Jordan Larmour who just counter attacked using the up and under as the weapon of choice many times and this tactic worked a treat.
Isa Nacewa didn’t get the ideal finish as he was called ashore early on through injury but his replacement Joey Carbery just slipped in unnoticed and worked very well against the ever impressive Gary Ringrose.
Stuart Lancaster came in last year and set about changing the defence system in Leinster and he also worked on the handling skills of this improving squad and although they came up shot twice last year , this year was very different and you can see the good work the whole coaching ticket has done. John Forgarty has done wonders to keep up the high standards that Greg Feek set while he was working with Leinster under Joe Schmidt.
Girvan Dempsey has upped the ante in the attacking department and his good work along with the one on one work that Lancaster has put in with many of this squad has now paid dividends and the rewards are there for all to see.
The trick next year for Leinster will be to see can reclaim both titles they won this year and continue to develop more talent to come through and join the ranks of this Leinster side. They used 55 players this season and did likewise last year and with their academy producing quality players they will hope that they can continue to strive for more and more honours as the years go on.
Now that the British and Irish Cup has ended, all fours Provinces will be looking to the All Ireland League and maybe an Interprovincial Series to help get some more young talent ready for the rigours of professional rugby.
Joey Carbery has been to subject of intense speculation since the Grand Slam win in March as to where he will play his rugby from next year. Joe Schmidt has indicated that he wants Carbery to play at 10 on a more regular basis and Leinster have a slight log jam in that area with Sexton , Ross Byrne , Ciaran Frawley and to a lesser extent Irish 20s out half young Harry Byrne all vying for the Leinster 10 jersey.
The talk is that he should be parachuted into the Ulster squad alongside Jonny Mc Phiillps or now the chatter is that he may be heading down to Munster but if this happens what does the IRFU do with the 10s in the Province already namely, Bleyendaal , Hanrahan , Keatley and Bill Johnston who was given a two year contract to start next season.
Whatever is decided, they need to move quickly and solve this issue before the tour in Australia begins on June 9th.
For now though it is time to salute the achievements of this Leinster squad and its top notch coaching ticket. It is where the other three Provinces strive to be and here’s hoping they can take a leaf from the Leinster manual and who knows where season 2018/2019 could lead….
Cian Mc Gibney