Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Keego on...Bath in the rain

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You know it is nearly Christmas when you wear the eskimo jacket to the Aviva Stadium to watch Leinster in December. It gets beyond cold, and when 44,000+ tickets are sold and you see much less than that you know who the supporters are and who the fans are. 

The volume was up, the supporters where expectant and Bath where over to spoil the party in the cold, the wet and the wind. 

In short, they were never close, they didn’t add any tricks after a fortunate (is that unfair to them) last week where they were able to boss the breakdown, they depended on their backrow without planning for the oncoming Leinster backlash. That shows you where Bath are and the result shows you where Leinster are. 

It finished 42-15, and believe it or not, that flattered Bath. 

Let’s have a look at the stats:

Leinster ran 470 metres to Baths 264, 48% possession for 53% territory, made 93% of 148 tackles, Bath missed 24 tackles, Leinster conceded 6 penalties to Baths 10, conceded 11 turnovers to Baths 14, 17 clean breaks compared to 2 for Bath and finally, 24 defenders beaten to Baths 10. 

So that is the match in a paragraph, you can see exactly how the match went. The big stats are the metres run which was amazing to watch live. Leinster where constantly moving, maybe it was their fear of the cold weather slowing them down but Bath had no idea how to navigate that. It was clear from the early minutes that Leinster where going to strangle Bath, Bath had no ideas and where hanging on much like the character of Quint in Jaws just as he is being swallowed by the shark. 

Leinster had 9 players above 25 metres run with Larmour on 83 for 12 runs with 1 try assist and 2 runs that resulted in me spilling 2 full pints with excitement! That is the biggest compliment I can pay the player. Larmour was so good (even from the top of the south stand) that I gladly spilt 2 lovely lovely pints of Guinness in my excitement! He is physically getting bigger and you can see the confidence increasing at the same rate as the oppositions fear of him. Worth the ticket price alone. The missed tackles are an interesting stat when you look at where Leinster attacked. In previous weeks you would see players all over the pitch in double figures of missed tackles, on Saturday it was clear that Leinster where targeting the area where they didn’t perform the week previous. And that was the back row. Underhill missed 10 tackles which was a bullet in the legs of Bath. They looked to him to do the same damage he did last week, he did try hard, but was forced into missing 4 tackles and conceded a turnover. Leinster also targeted the front row at any opportunity with Tom Dunn (hooker), Thomas (prop) and Charlie Ewels (lock) forced into 14, 10 and 18 missed tackles on the day. The Baths head dropped, they got colder than we did in the stadium and Leinster really showed why they are who they are. 

While Leinster won with comfort it wasn’t all prosecco and prawn sandwiches. There are things that need to improve going forward. Leinster lost 1 scrum and 2 lineouts. Leinster conceded 11 turnovers this week, only 7 last weeks. That is where a top team can look at them and see a chance. The only 2 stats of importance that changed (aside from the score line of course) was the turnovers and the clean breaks, maybe they balance each other out, but Leinster beat more defenders this week but also conceded more. 

So it is good to have something to work on going into Christmas. 

Finally, to those SUPPORTERS who showed up in the cold, I salute you! To those of you who left your seats 4 minutes into the second half because of a bit of cold, I do not! Never get complacent at the success of your team, support them throughout, never take these score lines for granted. Don’t be like Manchester city fans or Man Utd fans in the 90’s. We are better than that. 

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Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

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Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019