But even though this was just the third AIB League match of Matt Leek’s career, his new club’s feat in recording its first AIL win over Cork Constitution at Temple Hill was not lost on the 22 year old fly half.
“We’re all delighted with winning here,” Leek said. “It’s the first time the club has done it and you can be sure the lads will be having a few beers on the strength of it.”
Brought over from London Wasps during the summer by Matt Williams as cover for Leinster’s injury hit out half position, Leek has quickly adjusted to life in Dublin having been billeted with Lansdowne. And he showed how by scoring 22 of the visitors’ 27 points in this second defeat in succession for Con.
Four penalties, a conversion and a drop goal as well as a well taken try sent early pace setters Con back into mid-table after they had looked comfortable at 11-0 up with half time approaching thanks to a try from French centre John Vincent Igarza and two penalties from Pat McCarthy.
Leek closed the gap to 11-3 with a penalty in first half injury time before Karl Becker’s try just after the break turned the tide in Lansdowne’s favour, despite the sin binning of prop Angus McKeen in the 45th minute following an incident at the lineout with Con’s Joey Sheahan.
Leek then kicked a penalty to McCarthy’s two before showing there was more to his game than goal kicking. Picking up the ball on the Con 22, in the 65th minute, the Englishman spotted a gap, jinked past two Con tackles and darted under the posts, just to give himself the simple task of converting to give Lansdowne an 18-14 lead.
Penalties were exchanged yet again between the kickers and as Con tried to run the ball out from their own 22 in search of a try, Lansodwne turned the ball over and Leek sealed an away victory with a drop kick. An injury time penalty in the dying minutes from leek pushed his individual tally to 22 points and also denied Con a bonus point by stretching the winning margin beyond seven points.
Not that Leek was a bit concerned. “It was nice to get that one at the end,” Leek said of the drop goal, “because I had an attempt charged down in the first half. My kicking was kind of average today but I was pleased with the other aspects of my game. We managed to do fairly well, especially in the second half when I thought we controlled the game and played the game down in their half.
“We were only eight points behind at half time and getting that early try after half time just did wonders for our confidence, if nothing else.
“I’ve only played three league games since I’ve been here but things have gone really well and I’m enjoying my rugby here, which helps.”
Leek arrived in Ireland having played for Saracens and then Wasps for the last two seasons. Despite his lack of first team action with Leinster, Leek has not gone short on benefiting from Williams’ experience.
“Matt does a lot of coaching himself and he used to play out half so he’s had a lot to say and a lot to suggest and he’s given me a couple of things to work on which I’m trying to add to my game. He’s very hands on and has a lot of input with individual players. He’s a good coach and it’s a happy camp, especially this week after a result like that.
“I guess I’ve had minimal chances this year. I came on against Bridgend in the Celtic League and we had a good result down there and I’d like to think I did quite well. I’ve had a couple of friendlies as well and it’s just a case of when you do get your chance you have to take it.
“I haven’t been involved in a European Cup squad yet but if I continue playing well and we get through to the next stages then I might be in with a chance. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
CORK CONSTITUTION: D O’Brien, D Dillon, J V Igarza, R O’Donovan, M Price, B Walsh, P McCarthy; G Murray (J O’Driscoll 60), D Fogarty, M Ross, Shane O’Connor, J Murray (F Cogan 71), U O’Callaghan.
LANSDOWNE: B O’Mahony, J Smith, A Magro, K Kennedy, K Becker, M Leek, S Whelan; E Bohan, R Fallon, A McKeen, R Bolger, B Cusack, S Rooney, J O’Donovan, Stephen O’Connor.