Leinster gathering momentum

A COUPLE of weeks ago, Joe Schmidt talked about the process of reintegrating his massive World Cup contingent and pointed out that it had taken three games for the kinks to be ironed out when his stars returned from a late summer break the season before.

Defeats away to Benetton Treviso and Edinburgh had highlighted the teething problems inherent in such an undertaking at the time and the same issues cropped up this year despite the win against Munster and draw with Montpellier.

It was always going to take the reigning European champions that bit longer to rediscover their mojo given the fact that no team in the world had sent more representatives to the global gathering in New Zealand.

Last year it all came right against their southern cousins at the Aviva Stadium. Yesterday was this campaign’s equivalent and Schmidt talked up his side’s fluidity and work ethic at the breakdown as they secured a winning bonus point in just 40 minutes.

Leinster’s improvement yesterday was embodied by Jamie Heaslip, a man who has struggled to hit his stride recently after a prolonged period of excellence that incorporated duties with club, country and the Lions.

The number eight was immense here and yet the effects of the World Cup will continue to linger around the capital in one way at least as Schmidt juggles with the logistics of the IRFU’s player management programme for the two PRO12 fixtures to come.

“Inevitably there are still a few kinks because a lot of those guys will come out and back into the team again over the next two games,” said the Kiwi.

“Continuity going into games and through games ... when you change four or five or more you fracture that fluidity a bit.

“That will inevitably happen the next couple of weeks when we will change a few guys but we have massive confidence in the guys that we will bring in.”

There had been grumbles aplenty about Leinster’s lunchtime kick-off yesterday but very few about the early finish. All five points were in the bag by the break against a Glasgow side that had travelled with momentum and confidence.

Such was the extent of Leinster’s superiority that two of their four tries came in the ten-minute interval when Devin Toner was in the sinbin. Both were finished by Eoin O’Malley and sandwiched others from Rob Kearney and Gordon D’Arcy.

All four came on the end of penetrative back line moves but the platform for each and every one was a dominant forward pack and it was little surprise when Schmidt described it as his side’s best half of rugby so far this season.

“It is never easy against Glasgow,” he said afterwards but Sean Lineen disagreed.

The Scots had come to Dublin on the back of five successive wins. The last, against Bath, handed them a winning start to the Heineken Cup for just the third time and yet Lineen summed their day as being caught with their pants down.

“We got well and truly spanked,” said the Glasgow coach. “In the first-half there was only one team in it in attack and defence. The game was over after the first-half.

“There were times when we got stripped of the ball like candy from babies. We’ll learn from it but that first 40 minutes was pretty hard to watch. We just didn’t deal with their physicality at all and some of their tries were ridiculously easy.”

Scoring was a far more complicated procedure for Glasgow. Human nature being as it is, Leinster’s ferocity dissipated from the restart but they weren’t breached until the 74th minute despite continuous Glasgow possession and pressure.

Henry Pyrgos’ try wasn’t even the last act. With the clock running down and the exit gates heavily in use, Isaac Boss broke away to score under the posts with a try reminiscent of his late effort against England at Croke Park in 2007.

Tougher tasks lie ahead, starting with the trip to Bath’s picturesque Recreation Ground early next month, but Leinster sit at the summit of Pool 3 already and the juggernaut is still in the process of gathering momentum.

LEINSTER: R Kearney; I Nacewa, E O’Malley, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; H van der Merwe, S Cronin, M Ross; L Cullen, D Toner; K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: C Healy for van der Merwe (48); S Jennings for O’Brien (54); N White for Ross (57); F Carr for D’Arcy (57); I Boss for Reddan (61); R Strauss for Cronin (61); I Madigan for Sexton (61); R Ruddock for McLaughlin (66).

GLASGOW WARRIORS: S Hogg; T Seymour, P Murchie, G Morrisson, C Shaw; D Weir, C Cusiter; R Grant, P MacArthur, M Cusack; R Gray, A Kellock; R Harley, J Barclay, R Wilson.

Replacements: C Fusaro for Barclay (40); F Aramburu for Shaw (48); T Ryder for Kellock (54); H Pyrgos for Cusiter (62); E Kalman for Cusack (62); J Welsh for Grant (66); F Gillies for MacArthur (66); T Nathan for Murchie (67).

Referee: A Small (RFU).

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