Well that was yet another fantastic performance from the boys in blue, or should I say the boys in checkered white and blue! It’s another bonus point win which makes it 10 out of 10 after 2 rounds. It literally doesn’t get better than this for Leinster so far!
The game started with high intensity from both sides with the scoreboard opening from the boot of Sexton after 2 minutes. Sexton did another excellent job of guiding the team upfield and made good use of those trademark wraparound plays and looping passes.
Finn Russell soon drew the score level after 12 minutes but 5 minutes later Stuart Hogg scored a wonderful try, which Russell converted. After 17 minutes, Leinster were 10-3 down!
However, Leinster started to show real power dominance in both the scrum and maul. Their maul in particular proved far too superior for the Glasgow defence and resulted in a great try from Cian Healy on the 23 minute mark. Sexton converted to bring the score level again at 10 points a piece.
After sustained pressure from Glasgow towards the end of the half, it would have been fair to wish for half time to come quickly!! However, Leinster got the chance to take a shot at goal after 39 minutes but Sexton confidently opted to go down the line for one more lineout in the Glasgow 22. The lineout was successful and the Leinster pack formed a maul which appeared to simulate the power of a tank, rock solid and almost unstoppable. The maul started from 20 metres out from the try line and ended with Cian Healy touching down for his second try! Sexton converted out on the wing to give Leinster a 17-10 lead at half time!
The second half started very positively from Glasgow as they immediately had Leinster under pressure close to their try line. It took great defensive endeavour to hold the Scots out and they eventually won the turnover. Then Leinster quickly turned the pressure on Glasgow and started moving the ball upfield towards their try line. Sexton found a small gap and rushed through to set up a great attacking platform in the Glasgow 22. A few more slick phases of play opened the door for Sexton again who ran in a beautiful try just to the left of the sticks. He took the conversion kick well and extended the lead to 10-24 after 46 minutes.
Glasgow upped their game immediately from the restart and begun their own storming attack in our 22. Leinster fell off a few tackles and couldn’t defend the onslaught of bruising attacks on our line. Glasgow’s Tommy Seymour scored a try one minute after Sexton kicked a conversion to reduce the lead to 9 points. Russell couldn’t add the extras so the score was 15-24 after 49 minutes.
Glasgow controlled much of the next 17 minutes and secured another 3 points from the boot of Russell to bring the score line closer on 67 minutes, Glasgow 18 – Leinster 24 with 13 minutes remaining.
It was Leinster that capitalised on the final 13 minutes however by scoring 3 points on 69 minutes and following another ferocious and clinical attacking onslaught from Leinster inside Glasgow’s 22, Noel Reid saw a lovely opportunity to slip in and around two defenders to score Leinster’s 4th try and secure the try bonus point. Byrne converted the score to bring the lead and eventual final score to 18-34. Although 1-23 played heroically, Sexton, Furlong and Rudduck put in almost perfect shifts. It was Rhys Rudduck’s relentless and untiring work ethic throughout the full 80 minutes that resulted in him being awarded man of the match! Job well and truly done!
To be honest, given the weather conditions (rain and high winds), and with it being Glasgow at home and in great form this season, I expected (hoped) for a narrow win for Leinster, but I certainly did not expect a win of this proportion, let alone a try bonus point win. Remember Leinster’s horrific performance against Edinburgh 3 weeks ago at the RDS? Remember how worried we all were as supporters? It seems like such a long time ago now and hard to believe as this team has transformed and evolved so much since then, they’re playing incredible rugby at times! We needn’t have been worried at all. They just need to keep this intensity up and if they do, I can see them easily topping this group!
Although I may sound like I’m getting ahead of myself talking about topping the group, it is worth pointing out that the performance today, just like last week, wasnt perfect and there’s still work to do! The problem for Leinster this week was the amount of missed tackles that they racked up. They missed over a dozen tackles this week and over another dozen last week. They missed around fours times the amount of tackles as Glasgow today! They did however still manage to beat both teams and bag maximum points but it’s something that teams will start to target soon unless this issue is fixed. The fact that Leinster can still win against such high calibre teams after missing so many tackles just shows how well Leinster look after and utilise the ball when they have it. Leinster entered Glasgow’s 22 seven times today and scored a try on four of those occasions. Leinster is becoming very clinical in attack and looking incredibly confident in opposition 22s. Also, the majority of passes during today’s game were successful ie; very few knock ons and wayward passing even in high pressurised situations. This was an issue at times for Leinster against Montpellier which appears to have been rectified this week. This precision is making Leinster very hard to defend against and is allowing them to create a lot of try score opportunities.
Next up in the Champions Cup, back to back games against Exeter in December. I think Leinster will and rightly feel very confident and hungry for these next two Champions Cup fixtures. Bring it on!