Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Leinster-40 Cardiff Blues-5

PERFECT START


There have been many weekends over the years where I have had both Leinster & Ireland matches to enjoy, but I'm not sure there have been many stretches where three or four of them have come in a row.

As much as I love going through the whole "Harpin process" of covering them, the priorities of life, the universe and everything will get in the way from time to time. Basically what I'm doing here is apologising for a lack of preview for this match! It actually didn't hit me until just after the full time whistle.

It's not hard to work out what my prediction would have been - we started the season with 6 bonus point wins, and while I have seen Cardiff play and they do look like an outfit heading in the right direction, I still would have backed the boys in blue for a 7th. I would have at least retained enough caution to avoid going for a 35-point win, however.

So in keeping with recent Leinster writeups on busy weekends, hoere's a blow-by-blow summary of how the 80 minutes transpired...

0-1

Not only did I miss the preview, I also was called away briefly missed the kickoff, and thus Dave Kearney's lighting fast opening try!!!

Harry Byrne put the opening kickoff to scrum half Tomos Williams, who immediately responding in kind with a decent boot from just inside his own 22 that made it over 10m into the Leinster half where it was taken by Jimmy O'Brien.

Cardiff were to go on to produce a fine defensive display despite the final scoreline, but this passage wasn't exactly the ideal start. I'm not sure Tomos' team mates were too aware that the kick was going to stay in play because they were slow in following up, allowing Jimmy to run back into their territroy pretty easily.

Just a couple of basic phases later saw it come to Ciaran Frawley in the wide channel and he was able to dart through they numbers 12 and 14 like they were numbers 1 and 3 (I mean that as no disrepect to props, I was one myself) and with both his own wingers in support, it was Dave who was able to receive and get it down with just 36 seconds on the clock.

2-10

It wasn't long before we threatened their line again, with Dan Leavy crashing to 5m out from a lineout but James Tracy was pinged for going off his feet so the Blues could clear.

By minute 8 we started to see the kind of pressure the visitors intended to put on Harry Byrne when he first had a kick blocked down by Tomos Williams and shortly after the same scrum half disrupted a pass and managed to hack it all the way to within 5 of our own line. We were able to exit easily enough from there.

10-20

From that Cardiff lineout we managed to disrupt the set piece enough to win it back, ship it out wide and work some clevel offloads on the touchline before Ciaran Kelleher made a 7s style sprint towards the posts until he was eventually hauled down by Matthew Morgan and the attempted offload to Frawlwy was knocked on.

There was almost a carbon copy a few minutes later only on the opposite wing and Jimmy O'Brien the one in space - he elected to put a kick forward up the touchline and when Jason Tovey retrieved in his own 22 he hesitated for a second allowing the bounce to go to the chasing Leinster full back who took it and touched down. A second straight touchline conversion later had us 14-0 ahead.

An uncharacteristically sloppy Leinster restart saw Cardiff quickly win a penalty and from the lineout they quickly put it through the backs and all it took was one early step forward from Liam Turner to allow the overlap allowing winger Summerhill to go over and claw five points back.

20-30

Probably sounds patronising but this was definitely the best 10-minute spell of the match for Cardiff. Tails up from the try their defence exerted more pressure on Harry's different attempted to get past and when they had the ball were they were perhaps unfortunate one or two offloads didn't go to hand.

30-HT

This pattern continued for a while until Harry Byrne had a very central three-point attempt go wide and when their hooker Ethan Lewis managed to "soccer" a loose ball from halfway to our 5m line, we not only got a lucky bounce allowing Frawlye to clear but when that failed to find touch, again it sat up perfectly for Leavy to complete the tidying up.

With the clock winding down towards the break some kick tennis was won for Leinster by Jimmy O'Brien's magic boot again kicking into their 22 in such a way as to win us an attacking lineout. From there James Tracy got on the end of an excellent shove in the maul to clinch a third try that must have been heartbreaking for the Blues who had worked so hard to stay in it.

40-50

Cardiff kept up the pressure on our attack patterns - while we would get a fair amount of decent carries from the likes of Ryan Baird, Rhys Ruddock and Josh Murphy we were often either knocked back in the next few phases or forced into errors like crossing.

Meanwhile they were able to work there own way into decent positions, like when Summerhill burst down the left wing putting Tomos Williams clear up the middle only for his attempted offload to be a bit too fancy and it went to ground.

50-60

You might argue this was actually the Welsh region's best spell, assuming you're a defensive coach. It was spent entirely in their own 22 with Leinster barraging them with a series of 5m scrums (we had their number in this set piece) and tap penalties yet they managed to keep us out until Ruddock was pinged for a double movement at the line allowing them to deservedly clear their lines.

60-70

Having escaped their was some kick tennis at midfield until Harry Byrne sliced one into touch on the full, giving Cardiff a decent chance in our half. However, for all you'll hear about their defence, ours was able to do the job when required too. Led by tenacious centres Frawley and Turner zeroing in on the point of contact, we manged to hold them out easily until Harry got a chance to make amends by way of a territory kick which found touch in their 22.

We had a couple of our own lineouts pinched before this point, so we got our own back when Ryan Baird rose to swat back their dart and put us on the attack again. With the bulk of our 6/2 split bench on the field, the forwards had plenty of carries and clearouts in them to advance until the 13 phase saw Scott Penny crash over for the bonus point try.

70-FT

Another scrum penalty at midfied put us back down to their end again, with more good carrying from the fresh legs (albeit when we were a bit lucky not to have a dropped ball called a knock on along the way) until Penny got his second at the posts.

Then as icing on the cake after a lineout at their 22 was secured by Devin Toner, we met the Cardiff resistance in a series of phases getting closer to the line until Harry had enough so he dribbled one neatly past the tackling cordon for Michael Silvester, on since halftime for Jimmy O'Brien for his first decent amount of minutes, to touch down.

*******
Luke McGrath deservedly got the Player of the Match gong - I may not have mentioned his name above but he was definitely the glue that held us together and is also in a fine run of form.

As for the continuation of our perfect start, again I have to say that good and all as that may be, as long as the Ulsterman are standing up just two points back from us in Conference A, we'll have to keep the record going and next up is a trip to Scarlets which is rarely easy (though I promise there will definitely be a preview this time!).

When it comes to our chances in Europe, if you haven't already be sure and check out our podcast from last week where I was joined by some fellow Leinster fans to discuss our best options for the campaign. JLP

*****
We normally do a separate post featuring online comments from the full time whistle but due to the quick turnaround for the writeup we'll add a few here instead - many thanks to all who contributed as always!
Paul Smith Scoreboard flatters us somewhat but it's good to see teams trying to put it up against Leinster at the RDS. Good battle for the young guns and once they did manage to score tte BP try the game opened up for them . Byrne, Frawley, Ruddock and McGrath had great games, and Jimmy O'Brien was on fire in the first half and scored a lovely try. More satisfying to win a game like this, and 7 BP wins from our opening 7 games is as much as any Leinster fan could ask for.


Conor Cronin Cardiff were excellent defensively for so much of the game. If it had finished 19-5 I'd have seen that as fair. I worry about them when they get big guns back.
As for leinster, it looked like some players were taking a while to get going, but eventually things fired and leinster started liking life themselves again. Another BP win, more talent coming through, but under pressure so really needing to prove themselves.


Andrew Bailey Great. Another 40 points and a seventh BP in a row. You can only beat what’s in front of you. But in context of Twickenham the lack of quality in the Pro14 is why Hugo, Ross, JGP and Ronan have struggled to make the step up. Good players but they need decent opposition to learn and to be ready for the international arena


Richard Mifsud Thank you Cardiff Blues. I know we won with a BP and that is very pleasing but what made this doubly special was the fact that we had to find a way and I think that the Blues are the first team to force us to find a way... and we did! Credit to our young guns and old guard for fronting up and getting through a tough 80 minutes. Some of our play was scintillating what some players will have learned tonight is that scintillating only happens when you earn the right or when the opposition is really poor and knowing when to be pragmatic is easily Harry B’s greatest take away tonight. IMHO he passed that test those kicks in behind when nothing was on were class and mature 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻. Standouts Rhys, JOB (hope he’s ok), Luke McG (worthy POTM), Ross, Ryan, Ciarán and especially Liam Turner. Perfect match for the coaches to dissect, and they will. Great antidote to yesterday’s disappointment 😊


Martin Loughrey Good to get another BP win. In fairness I think the scoreline is a bit unfair to the Blues. They tested us probably more than another side so far this season. A bit scrappy from our side. Very loose at times and a lot to look at for the lads despite the win. Good experience for the younger lads though. They need tougher games.


David Ryle Score line unfair on Cardiff. Had leinster under pressure at times.

Gavin Delves (replay to David Ryle) stop Leinster contained the pressure leinster deserved the bonus point


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