Tag Archives: Luke Fitzgerald

PRO12 Preview: Leinster vs. Aironi

Luke Fitz is back for Leinster. (c) Art Widak.

Friday 2nd March, 18.00 (Italian TV)

Luke Fitzgerald makes a welcome return to the Leinster team tomorrow night having fully recovered from the neck injury that has kept him out for almost two months. Alongside him in the back-three is 20-year-old Andrew Conway,  just back from a spell on the sidelines himself. Fionn Carr, Ian Madigan and Brendan Macken all feature in an exciting backline. Shane Jennings captains the side from the back-row. It’s a heavyweight Leinster pack with the likes of Richardt Strauss, Rhys Ruddock and Nathan White all starting. With Isa Nacewa riding pine, it will be interesting to see Madigan take over on place-kicking duty.

Aironi have made four changes to the side which went down 10-9 to the Dragons last weekend following a last minute penalty try. Italy international Giulio Toniolatti comes in at fullback while Riccardo Pavan is selected on the right wing. Up front, injury rules out ex-Munster No.8 Nick Williams. As a result, 23-year-old Italian international Simone Favaro starts at 7, with Nicola Cattina and the experienced Josh Sole shuffling positions in the back-row. George Biagi replaces Joshua Furno in the second-row.

This is a bottom vs. top clash, with Leinster 11 points clear at the summit of the PRO12 table. Aironi are languishing at the foot of the table, 8 points behind 11th-placed Edinburgh. The Italian team have only won 3 games in the league this season, as well as losing all 6 of their Heineken Cup pool games. After last weekend’s 10-10 draw in Glasgow, this is a well-timed opportunity for Leinster to get back to winning ways. They should have far too much pace and ability for Aironi. Verdict: Bonus-point win for Leinster.

Aironi: 15 Giulio Toniolatti, 14 Riccardo Pavan, Roberto Quartaroli 13, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Josh Sole, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Nicola Cattina; 5 Carlo Del Fava, 4 George Biagi, 3 Lorenzo Romano, 2 Roberto Santamaria (cap), 1 Matias Aguero.                                         Subs: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Alberto De Marchi , 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 Redolfini Luca, Filippo Ferrarini 20, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Gilberto Pavan.

Leinster: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Eoin O’Malley, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Shane Jennings (capt.), 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.                                Subs: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Leo Auva’a, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Isa Nacewa.

Referee: Andrew Macpherson (Scotland).

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Photo copyright:  Art Widak.

No Surprises in Kidney’s 6 Nations Squad

Ronan O'Gara is back for another 6 Nations campaign with Ireland. (c) Ross Wynne.

The Irish management team today announced both the Irish senior squad for the forthcoming 6 Nations and the Irish Wolfhounds squad for a game with the English Saxons in two weekend’s time.

The senior squad includes 24 players, plus an additional 6 players who will join the first week of training. The Wolfhounds squad features 22 players.

First off, here’s a look at the two squads:

Ireland Training Squad

Forwards (13): Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt.), Donnacha Ryan, Stephen Ferris, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings, Sean O’Brien.

Backs (11): Conor Murray, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O’Gara, Jonathan Sexton, Gordon D’Arcy, Paddy Wallace, Fergus McFadden, Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney.

Additional Players (6): Ian Nagle, Peter O’Mahony, Tiernan O’Halloran, Paddy McAllister, Andrew Conway, Simon Zebo.

Peter O'Mahony is one of 6 "additional" players named by Declan Kidney. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

O2 Irish Wolfhounds Squad for match vs. England Saxons (Sat 28th January)

Forwards (12): Stephen Archer, Ronan Loughney, Mike Sherry, Damien Varley, Brett Wilkinson, Mike McCarthy, Devin Toner, Dan Tuohy, Kevin McLaughlin, Chris Henry, John Muldoon, Rhys Ruddock.

Backs (10): Isaac Boss, Tomas O’Leary, Ian Madigan, Ian Keatley, Nevin Spence, Eoin O’Malley, Luke Fitzgerald, David Kearney, Gavin Duffy, Denis Hurley.

Players not considered due to injury

Brian O’Driscoll, David Wallace, Darren Cave, Felix Jones, Jerry Flannery, Eoin Griffin, Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan.

Luke Fitzgerald, pictured scoring against Bath, is in the Wolfhounds squad. (c) Art Widak.

Before we start criticising Declan Kidney’s senior squad for being too conservative, which it clearly is if looked at as a definitive final squad, it’s worth noting that Kidney has emphasised that players in the Wolfhounds squad are still in consideration for his matchday 22 to play Wales. The Wolfhounds take on the Saxons on the 28th of this month, giving those players a final chance to impress ahead of the Wales clash on the 5th of February.

It’s unclear why Kidney did not simply name a 30-man senior squad, instead of marking the 6 young players as “Additional players”. This promising sextet will have just one week of training with the senior squad to impress. Surely if someone like Peter O’Mahony puts himself about to good effect in that week of training he will be considered for a place on the bench against Wales? Why bother to mark these guys as “additional”? He has left himself open to criticism for not blooding younger players that would have been avoided by simply naming those 6 players in the squad.

It may be confusing, but at least Kidney is keeping the door open for the Wolfhounds players. At the squad announcements he said, “The Wolfhounds game gives myself and the other coaches one final chance to give games to players to see possible options before we settle on our matchday 22 for the opening game of the Championship.” That will be encouragement enough to ensure that the Wolfhounds game is treated seriously, a final trial of sorts.

So what of the player selections Kidney has made? The fact is that any of the 52 players he and his management have named could be in the squad for the Wales game. Until he names that matchday 22, it’s hard to criticise or praise. But of course, being named in the senior squad is a better indicator that a player will be involved.

O'Callaghan, Earls, Healy and Ross are all in the senior squad, while O'Leary (centre) is amongst the Wolfhounds. (c) Ross Wynne.

In terms of second-rows, Dan Tuohy and Mike McCarthy have been in fantastic form for Ulster and Connacht respectively. Donncha O’Callaghan is named in the senior squad despite slipping behind Donnacha Ryan in the Munster pecking order. Tuohy and McCarthy will feel aggrieved at Kidney’s loyalty in O’Callaghan, especially with the Munster man now 32.

Luke Fitzgerald is one name noticeably missing from the senior squad. However, he hasn’t played in the last two weeks because of slight glute/neck problems. It looks as if he will be given the Wolfhounds match to prove his fitness before being considered for the 6 Nations matchday squad. His form this season demands inclusion. Elsewhere, the form of Ulster’s Paul Marshall and Conor Gilroy has been ignored completely as neither features at all.

It would be fantastic to see younger players like Tiernan O’Halloran and Peter O’Mahony getting a chance in this year’s 6 Nations, even if only off the bench. However, with the squads he has named, the feeling is that Declan Kidney will stick with the tried and trusted.

What do you make of the squad selections? Who do you think deserved to be included or shouldn’t have made the cut? Should Kidney go all out to win this year’s 6 Nations or rather use it as a chance to blood some uncapped players? Comment below with the matchday 22 that you would pick for the Wales match and why…

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Photos courtesy:  Ross Wynne, Ivan O’Riordan, Art Widak.

Four on Form

Heineken Cup Round 4 Matches

Photo via Jukka Zitting.

Luke Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald had a lively outing for Leinster against Bath as he showed just how talented a player he is. Fitzgerald seems to be gradually rediscovering his best form after a couple of inconsistent seasons and that continued at the Aviva. As pointed out by his teammate Brian O’Driscoll after Saturday’s game, Fitzgerald seems to be making good decisions more often than not. In the past, the 23-times capped Irish international has often been guilty of bad decision making and an over eagerness in attack. This season we have seen a seemingly more relaxed Fitzgerald and his all-round game has benefited from this approach.

Fitzgerald scored two tries at the Aviva on Saturday. Photo via M+MD.

On Saturday against Bath, Fitzgerald showcased his footwork and pace as he scored twice. The first try was a fairly routine run-in after Devin Toner and Rob Kearney had done all the hard work. However, the Blackrock man’s second try was the winger at his best. He showed neat footwork to step inside and swerve around two tacklers then his initial burst to get away from the covering defence was lightning-quick. In between his own two tries, Fitzgerald’s pace helped him to provide the try-scoring pass for Jonathan Sexton’s score.

Declan Kidney will surely be impressed with how Fitzgerald has bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup squad. The form of the 24-year-old means that Kidney will probably involve Fitzgerald in the upcoming Six Nations squad. Ireland are certainly not short on options on the wing at the moment but if the Leinster man puts in more displays of this quality then we will see him back in the green jersey sooner rather than later.

Fitzgerald’s key stats vs. Bath:

Tries/Assists: 2/1     Clean line-breaks: 3     Defenders beaten: 4                           Metres gained on ball: 135     Turnovers: 2     Tackles made/missed: 5/2

Conor Murray

Murray in action against Aironi earlier in the season. (c) Ivan O'Riordan

Murray needed a big game against the Scarlets and he delivered. Murray was not at his best in the first match of the double-header with the Scarlets but he responded well on Sunday. Tomas O’Leary has impressed off the bench for Munster and is keeping the pressure on Murray. Both players are benefiting from the competition and that can only be a good thing for Tony McGahan’s squad. It’s easy to forget how early a stage Murray’s career is at, especially when he puts in a showing like he did on Sunday.

Against the Scarlets at Thomond Park, Murray showed how complete a scrumhalf he is. He is superb at directing play and he gets the best out of the Munster forward pack in terms of carrying. The 22-year-old’s intelligence lies in how and when he hits the runner. He varies his game well between direct passes from the base of the ruck, sniping himself or taking a few steps before hitting the ball-carrier. This variation keeps opposition fringe defences constantly guessing.

Perhaps the area of his game that needs most work is his box-kicking. While the Limerick native is a naturally talented striker of the ball, he can sometimes put a little too much length on his box-kicks which means the opposition has time to counter-attack before the Munster chase is upon them (For example, Chris Ashton’s try against Munster). This consistency will come with experience, and Murray’s kicking was very good on Sunday.

Murray’s ability to carry the ball himself is what makes him such a rounded scrumhalf. The Scarlets game was a perfect example of this. Murray carried the ball 9 times over the course of his 63 minutes on the pitch. That was the most carries by any scrumhalf over the whole weekend of Heineken Cup action. His break in the second half showed his ability on the ball, as well as a good turn of pace. Another strength of Murray’s is his defensive game. He is physical enough to make his tackles and he is brave under the high ball. Murray’s all-round performance was a remainder of what made him Ireland’s first-choice number 9 at the World Cup.

Murray’s key stats vs. Scarlets:

Kick/Pass/Run: 3/35/9     Metres gained on ball: 50     Clean line-breaks: 1         Offloads: 2     Tackles made/missed: 7/1

Tiernan O’Halloran

O’Halloran put in another promising performance for Connacht as they went down 23-19 to a late Gloucester try. The 20-year-old Galway native has been one of Connacht’s better performers this season despite the fact that he has been starved of quality ball. While the likes of Luke Fitzgerald benefit from Leinster’s expansive style of play, O’Halloran rarely gets much time and space on the ball with Connacht’s more limited style. However, the young winger almost always makes the gainline when he is in possession. He has an uncanny ability to make a yard or two more than looks possible.

Against Gloucester, O’Halloran had the most carries of any player on the pitch. Many of these were kick returns but the Ireland U20 international is also intelligent in coming off his wing and involving himself in open play. O’Halloran had 13 carries but only actually made 26 metres of gains. This is a misleading statistic though as much of the time O’Halloran got on the ball he was under immediate pressure. The fact that he still made positive yards is actually an impressive thing.

O’Halloran was on the scoresheet against Gloucester, his 2nd try in 4 Heineken Cup matches. Much like his try against Harlequins, O’Halloran didn’t have much to do on Saturday but he at least shows the awareness and work-rate to be in the right place to finish off line-breaks. Defensively, O’Halloran appears to be solid. He made all 6 of his tackle attempts against Gloucester and, as has been mentioned, he fielded a high number of kicks as well.

O'Halloran is hopefully part of a "New Dawn" in Connacht. Photo via boocal.

This was another promising exhibition of O’Halloran’s talent. Along with the likes of David McSharry and Eoin Griffin, the ex-Roscrea man offers hope for the future of Connacht rugby. Eric Elwood will recognise the importance of ensuring O’Halloran joins Griffin and McSharry in tying his future down to the province. If he continues to perform like he did against Gloucester, lots of clubs will be sniffing around O’Halloran.

O’Halloran’s key stats vs. Gloucester:

Kick/Pass/Run: 1/2/13     Clean line-breaks: 1     Offloads: 1                                Tackles made/missed: 6/0     Turnovers: 1     Metres gaines on ball: 26

Tom Court

Court was one of Ulster’s best players as they secured a vital try-scoring bonus point away to Aironi in Round 4. The Australian-born prop has 24 caps for Ireland and was part of the World Cup squad, but it is sometimes easy to wonder just why he is rated so highly by the Irish management. His display on Saturday was a typically efficient example of what he brings to the pitch. As a relative late-comer to the sport of rugby, the former shot-putter is still improving, even at the age of 31. He only played rugby for the first time in 2004 so to be where he is now is an incredible achievement.

Against Aironi, Court was an integral part of an Ulster scrum that won 100% of their own scrums. This was against an experienced pack of Italian internationals. With John Afoa at tighthead, Court at loosehead and Rory Best hooking, the Ulster front row is particularly strong currently. Court managed to get over for his 2nd try of the season with a pick-and-go from a metre out. A fairly unspectacular score but that’s they type of player Court is. He gets his job done without any fanfare and there is something of John Hayes in that characteristic.

Court’s ability to cover both tighthead and loosehead is what makes him a valuable squad player for Ireland. To have someone as solid as him on the bench is reassuring in case of injuries. Declan Kidney will be encouraged to see that Court is still growing and improving as a player. He will no doubt be a part of the Ireland squad once again for the 2012 Six Nations. Kidney will hope that Court can continue to improve, helping to create even more competition in the Ireland squad.

Photos courtesy:  Jukka Zitting, Ivan O’Riordan, M+MD, boocal.

Heineken Cup Round-Up

Gloucester 23-19 Connacht

Saturday 17th December @ Kingsholm

Connacht's defence let them down at the death. Photo via Eoin Gardiner.

Connacht came so, so close to ending their miserable run of defeats but were denied as Gloucester replacement Johnny May scored a try with only four minutes remaining. This was a much improved showing from the Heineken Cup minnows and they will be devastated to have left this one behind them. In doing so, they have now recorded a club record 10th defeat in a row. If they can match this performance at Kingsholm in the coming weeks, that run will finally come to an end.

Connacht scored one lovely try after Frank Murphy intercepted Gloucester flyer Charlie Sharples’ pass. The scrumhalf offloaded to Gavin Duffy who then popped the ball back inside to Murphy. George Naoupu took Murphy’s second offload and looked to be clear, but was hauled down metres short of the tryline. He had the awareness to pop the ball off the deck to the supporting Tiernan O’Halloran who dotted down. Niall O’Connor converted that try and added four penalties over the course of the 80 minutes.

For Gloucester, outhalf Tim Taylor scored a try, conversion and penalty in the first half before being replaced by Freddie Burns at the break. Burns knocked over two penalties as well as the conversion after May’s late try. The match looked to have gone Connacht’s way when O’Connor was successful with a penalty 8 minutes from time to leave his side 19-16 up. But a weak missed tackle by substitute hooker Adrian Flavin allowed May to break through the Connacht line and use his pace to go all the way.

There are certainly positives Connacht can take from this defeat. O’Connor was vastly better than the previous weekend. His kicking from hand was exquisite at times. Along with O’Halloran, Eoin Griffin and David McSharry there is obvious potential in the Connacht backline. Clearly, forwards coach Dan McFarland spent a lot of the week running up to this game working on set pieces as Connacht were greatly improved at the scrum and lineout. There were far fewer individual errors too, but as we saw with May’s late try, even one mistake can have fatal consequences.

Here’s a look at Pool 6 after the weekend’s action:

Aironi 20-46 Ulster

17th December @ Stadio Brianteo

Ian Humphreys kicked 12 points in Italy. Photo via M+MD.

Ulster scored 6 tries as they overcame a second-half resurgence from Aironi to leave Italy with a five crucial points. Brian McLaughlin’s charges dominated the opening half to lead 27-3 at the break through tries from Andrew Trimble, Tom Court and a penalty try after a fantastic rolling maul was dragged down by the Aironi pack. Ian Humphreys converted all three tries and tacked on two penalties as well.

Ulster came out from the half-time interval in a less than convincing manner and allowed the Italians back into the game through their own sloppy play. Aironi scored two tries through wing Sinoti Sinoti and substitute Roberto Quartaroli. Luciano Orquera converted one of the tries to bring the game back to 27-15. Ulster were finally stirred into action and Craig Gilroy was on hand to finish a good team move which secured the bonus point.

Aironi then went over for another try when replacement back-row George Biagi took Quartaroli’s offload close to the line to go over untouched. But Ulster confirmed the win with late scores from South African Robbie Diack and sub Adam Macklin. Ruan Pienaar added two conversions in the second half to leave Ulster with a 46-20 win.

These five points keep Ulster at the top of Pool 4. The pool is wide open following Leicester’s win over Clermont, with all three sides still competing to top the group or secure a best placed runners-up spot. Ulster host Leicester in January in a must-win game. If they can do that and then secure a losing bonus point away to Clermont, it could be enough to see them through as a best placed runner-up. However, even though there are only two rounds of pool games left, nothing is decided. That’s the beauty of the Heineken Cup.

Here’s how Pool 4 stands after last weekend:

Here’s the Ulster tries against Aironi. This is a playlist, so just let each one play through and you’ll be able to select the next try:

And here’s the highlights from the other game in Pool 4 on Saturday between Leicester and Clermont:

Leinster 52-27 Bath

Saturday 17th December @ Aviva Stadium

Devin Toner had a great game for Leinster. Photo via M+MD.

Leinster scored 7 tries as they hammered a far inferior Bath side in front of a big crowd at the Avia. You can read the full match report here. At times, Leinster were just sensational and if they can consistently match the heights they hit at times on Saturday then no team will beat them. With such a strong squad too, it is hard to see injuries affecting Leinster too much. Still, there’s a long way to go before the business end of this competition.

Leinster are looking comfortable now at the top of Pool 3 and should secure a home quarter final with wins over Glasgow and Montpellier in the final two rounds of pool fixtures. Joe Schmidt will certainly head into Christmas in positive form after this win, although he was frustrated by how his team switched off for the closing quarter of the game. It is a measure of this Leinster squad that they will find negatives after a win like this.

Here’s how Pool 3 looks following the action over the weekend:

And here’s the highlights from Leinster’s win over Bath:

Munster 19-13 Scarlets

Sunday 18th December @ Thomond Park

O'Gara was crucial for Munster yet again. Photo via M+MD.

Munster had another hard-fought win on Sunday. They’ve now won 4 from 4 in Pool 1. It was a case of more of the same from Munster as O’Gara kicked 14 of the points and James Coughlan touched down at the back of a rolling maul. The Scarlets were threatening in patches but once again lacked the accuracy to finish off the breaks they made. They scored a try of their own through substitute prop Ken Owens. Rhys Priestland kicked a conversion and a penalty while Stephen Jones added a penalty of his own.

Tony McGahan was happy with another win but admitted to being disappointed with the performance from Munster. Regardless, Munster are now very well positioned to go on and secure a home quarter-final. They’re 4 points clear of the Scarlets at the top of Pool 1 and next up are a Castres side who have lost all interest in this competition. McGahan will hope to secure Munster’s first bonus point win in that game.

Here’s Pool 1 after four rounds of action:

Anyone who missed Munster vs. Scarlets can watch the entire match over on the TG4 Player. Just click on ‘Sport’ under the ‘Archive’ menu then select ‘Rugbai Corn Heineken’.

Photos courtesy:  Eoin Gardiner, M+MD.

Leinster Lay Down Heineken Cup Marker

Match Report – Heineken Cup Round 4

Leinster 52-27 Bath

17th December @ Aviva Stadium

Leinster were far too strong for Bath at the Aviva. Photo via M+MD.

Leinster blew Bath away with a scintillating 60 minute performance in front of a 46,365 crowd at the Aviva. This performance clearly marks Leinster out as one of the favourites for the tournament. While the last 20 minutes of the game saw Leinster thoughts turn to their Christmas party, the display up until that point was as complete as it possibly could have been. Dominant set-piece, crisp handling, exhilarating pace and aggressive defence were all part of the package. With so many of the Leinster players in top form, Bath never had a hope.

The match was over as a contest within 30 minutes, as Leinster blitzed Bath early on. Rob Kearney gave the home side the lead after just 3 minutes. Jonathan Sexton’s penalty effort came off the post and Devin Toner was quickest to react, using his height to claim the bouncing ball. Leinster recycled and Eoin Reddan’s clever flick pass caught Bath unaware and allowed Kearney to dive over. Sexton added the conversion for a promising start.

Ex-England centre Olly Barkley got Bath back into the game with two penalties, but in between Sexton came up with a fantastic drop goal to keep the scoreboard ticking over for Leinster. Bath fullback Sam Vesty’s clearance kick was straight down Sexton’s throat and he had more than enough time on the ball to smack home the drop goal from 45 metres out.

Leo Cullen was sent to the sin-bin for a punch but that didn’t effect Leinster in the slightest. Their next try came from an unexpected source. 6′ 10″ second-row Toner dummied and then made a lovely one-handed offload to Kearney, who drew the last defender and put Luke Fitzgerald over for the try. It was a subtle, surprising piece of play from Toner, part of a strong display by the 25-year-old. Sexton was on target with the conversion to give Leinster a 17-6 lead.

Next to cross the tryline was Sexton himself after another passage of sumptuous Leinster play. Sexton used the Leinster trademark loop off Jennings to give McFadden the space to send Fitzgerald speeding down the left-hand touchline. He drew in the covering defender and Sexton was on his inside to take the scoring pass and stride over. Sexton converted his own try as Cullen returned to the pitch. Leinster has scored 14 unanswered points while their captain took a breather.

Sexton scored Leinster's 3rd try as well as kicking 16 points. Photo via M+MD.

Following half-time, Leinster picked up immediately from where they had left off. Directly from the kick-off, they shifted the ball from right to left, through the hands. A beautiful skip pass from McFadden allowed Kearney to use his footwork, fix the outside defender and hit Fitzgerald, just outside Leinster’s own 22. Fitzgerald did the rest as he beat two defenders and showed a tremendous burst of pace to go the length of the field. Once again, Sexton knocked over the conversion.

Scrumhalf Reddan got a deserved try ten minutes later as he sniped over from close range following strong carries from Sean O’Brien and Cian Healy. Sexton added the extras. Any hope of a Bath revival was extinguished as first Vesty and then Chris Billar were yellow-carded. Replacement back-row Rhys Ruddock got Leinster’s 6th try when he went through a weak tackle after Kearney had made the initial break. Sexton was on target with his conversion.

With a whole raft of changes to the Leinster team, their focus started to slip in the last quarter as Bath tried to restore some pride. All Blacks World Cup winner Stephen Donald went through Eoin O’Malley’s tackle to get Bath’s first score of the second half. Barkley nailed the conversion from out to the right. Bath second-row Dave Attwood crossed next for Bath, with Barkley again successful with the conversion.

Leinster briefly awoke as O’Malley cleverly took a quick lineout in the Bath 22, and Jamie Heaslip surged up the middle. Isaac Boss then hit fellow replacement Ian Madigan, who stepped inside a tackle to dot down. Isa Nacewa took over the kicking duties and duly slotted the easy conversion. The game ended with another try for Bath as they won the restart and eventually substitute Ben Williams went through some uninterested tackles to touch down. Barkley knocked over the conversion with the last act of the game.

The true measure of this Leinster side lies in the fact that they will be frustrated with their performance in the last quarter of this clash. If they can consistently match the levels they hit in the first 60 minutes at the Aviva then most teams will find it extremely difficult to stay with them. Leinster now have a comfortable 6 point lead at the top of Pool 3. If they maintain this form, you would have to fancy them to wrap things up when they travel to Glasgow on the second weekend of January.

Leinster: R Kearney; I Nacewa, E O’Malley, F McFadden (G D’Arcy, 53), L Fitzgerald; J Sexton (I Madigan, 59), E Reddan; H Van Der Merwe (C Healy, H-T), R Strauss (S Cronin, 53), M Ross (N White, 65), L Cullen (capt, K McLaughlin, 59), D Toner, S O’Brien (R Ruddock, 53), J Heaslip, S Jennings (I Boss, 78).

Bath: S Vesty; J Cuthbert (B Williams, 56), M Banahan, O Barkley, N Abendanon; S Donald (T Heathcote, 68), M Claassens (C Cook, 56); D Flatman, C Biller (R Batty, 67), D Wilson, D Attwood, R Caldwell, F Louw (capt), S Taylor (A Beattie, 53) G Mercer.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

 

Photos courtesy:  M+MD