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Leinster Rugby (22) 43 - 20 (12) Saracens
RDS Showground, Dublin,
Saturday, 15 January 2011, 13:30

Despite the driving wind that made it difficult for people to walk, let alone play rugby, the masses filed into to the RDS to see if Leinster could confirm a place in the quarter finals against the current English second ranked club, Saracens.

Joe Schmidt seems set on doing one thing Michael Cheika seemed to avoid, look to the younger members of the squad, and today's score sheet showed that, Dominic Ryan, Eoin O'Malley and Fergus McFadden all touching down tries.

Regardless of the unforgiving, swirling wind which made passing and kicking treacherous, it took only six minutes for man of the match, Sean O'Brien, to cross the line. A break from Isa Nacewa was offloaded to Strauss who saw O'Brien over the white wash. Sexton missed the kick but all was forgiven considering the conditions.

It was only four minutes after the first try that Leinster went over again, this time the young Dominic Ryan claimed his first of two after Nacewa and O'Brien again set up the attack. Sexton converted and Leinster looked to be cruising.

Despite a bonus point being on the cards after only ten minutes, Leinster may have gotten a little too comfortable as the mistakes began to creep in. Saracen's first try came when Fitzgerald, still very much rusty since returning from injury, gave a terrible pass out to Nacewa, the loose ball was gladly collected by Short who breezed over the line.

A Sexton penalty shortly afterwards was met with further attacks from a Saracen's side who got a whiff of blood, a well worked move from David Strettle saw Brown touch down in the corner. All of a sudden Leinster were clearly cruising no longer.

But defence would be the sword Saracen's fell on. Simply too many gaps appeared, the behemoth O'Brien ran hard, as he alway's does, Leinster moved it wide and Dominic Ryan claimed his second with ease.

And then, as they say, the flood gates opened. Leinster just played with that Joie de vivre that seems part and parcel of the new game under Schmidt with all the flair of an All Black's side. Firstly a neat offload from Strauss saw McFadden comfortably jog over, and then came a contender for try of the tournament. Sexton broke from his own half and a string of off loads saw Nacewa grab a ball anyone else would have dropped, he dummied and ran straight through. The substitute O'Malley made his mark too, a missed tackle from Farrell saw the youngster step past Short too easily and Saracen's were well and truly beaten.

Replacement Devin Toner allowed Saracens some platform to save their blushes when he collapsed a maul and was sent to the bin. A nice move from the English side saw Mordt go over in the corner. Although it may have lessened the blow the score line was certainly flattering to the visitors.

A win of any kind next week in France will guarantee Leinster an all important home quarter final, and playing like this odds must be dropping rapidly for a repeat of 2009. It seems the chicks Cheika never counted are standing up to be counted now indeed.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby

Saracens
Tries O'Brien,
Ryan (2),
McFadden,
Nacewa,
O'Malley

Short,
Brown,
Mordt
Conversions Sexton (5)

Farrell
Penalties Sexton

Farrell
Sin Bin



Teams Isa Nacewa
15 Nils Mordt
Shane Horgan
14 David Strettle
Brian O'Driscoll
13 Michael Tagicakibau
Fergus McFadden 12 Brad Barritt
Luke Fitzgerald 11 James Short
Jonathan Sexton
10 Owen Farrell
Eoin Reddan
9 Richard Wigglesworth

Cian Healy
1 Rhys Gill
Richardt Strauss
2 Schalk Brits
Mike Ross
3 Carlos Nieto
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Steve Borthwick (C)
Nathan Hines
5 Hugh Vyvyan
Dominic Ryan
6 Kelly Brown
Shane Jennings
7 Andy Saull
Sean O'Brien
8 Ernst Joubert

Replacements Jason Harris-Wright
16 Jamie George for Brits, 66)
Heinke van der Merwe (for Healy, 67)
17 Jared Saunders (for Henson, 67)
Clint Newland (for Ross, 67)
18 Petrus du Plessis for Nieto, 61)
Devin Toner for Hines, 60)
19 Hayden Smith (for Vyvyan, 41)
Kevin McLaughlin (for Jennings, 67)
20 Justin Melck (for Saull, 53)
Isaac Boss (for Reddan, 67)
21 Neil de Kock (for Wigglesworth, 52)
Ian Madigan (for Sexton, 69)
22 Gavin Henson (for Tagicakibau, 34)
Eoin O'Malley (for Horgan, 60)
23 Noah Cato (for Strettle, 64)

Not Considered
due to Injury
Stan Wright,
Rob Kearney,
Paul Ryan,
Jamie Heaslip

Derick Hougaard,
Adam Powell,
Jacques Burger,
Deon Carstens,
Alex Goode
Officials Referee: Roman Poite (FFR)
Assistant Referees: Laurent Cardona, Patrick Pechambert (both FFR)
4th Official: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)
5th Official: Ed Kenny (IRFU)
TMO: Jean-Christophe Gastou (FFR)

by Patrick Fennelly, © 2011-08-23

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