Johnny Sexton on Jordan Larmour's two "huge" cup final moments
"He learnt his lessons and came up with a huge play."
Jordan Larmour may yet be destined for the Leinster No.15 jersey, which he occasionally dons during the regular season, but he is putting in some good shifts out on the right wing.
While Larmour's breakthrough season in the Leinster team was packed with scintillating breaks and tries out of seemingly nowhere, he has now upped his defensive game. That is not to say he is the finished article, as he would himself agree, but it was telling that his two big moments against Glasgow Warriors were in defence.
It was something that Leinster captain Johnny sexton spoke glowingly of after his side's 18-15 victory in the Guinness PRO14 final.
The first moment arrived on 19 minutes, with Glasgow 7-5 ahead and slicing Leinster apart with a great strike play. The Scots won a lineout over on the right wing and drew in a rake of blue jerseys by running a couple of straight-up decoy runners.
That dragged up Robbie Henshaw and Josh van der Flier and slick passing soon presented Glasgow with a four-on-two.
From the stills below, we see Jordan Larmour (circled) in a position very few would envy. Stuart Hogg has received a pass and he feeds the flying left winger DTH van der Merwe. Hogg then tries to block Larmour from covering over.
The Leinster winger manages to pressure the Hogg pass so it is a little further back, briefly checking van der Merwe's stride.
Jordan Larmour (as you can see below) then takes the gamble that Hogg will be picked up by Garry Ringrose, haring to the scene, and he goes all out to cut van der Merwe off.
He gets over in time and forces the Canada international inside before Ringrose wallops him to the turf.
An greamú seo ó @leinsterrugby! Luas ag Larmour & cumhacht ag Ringrose!
A try saver from Larmour & Ringrose!@PRO14Official ar @TG4TV #LEIvGLA #PRO14Final@OLSCRugby @TheLooseH @BHHooker pic.twitter.com/mHA1OAx8gz
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) May 25, 2019
Glasgow retained possession and scored an Adam Hastings penalty, a couple of minutes after, but that tackle prevented a damaging try that, if converted, could have put the Scots nine clear and further roused the partisan crowd.
Larmour's duel with van der Merwe had another big moment, just on half-time, and the 21-year-old excelled again.
Sam Johnson found his teammate with plenty of open ground ahead of him but, given it was a looping pass, Larmour backed himself and gunned over. Just as van der Merwe took the pass, Larmour was on him like a doberman, and the warriors winger was driven out of play.
As Nigel Owens blew for half-time, Johnny Sexton ran right up to his teammate and bellowed his approval.
"It was a great tackle (on half-time)," told us after the game. "Huge play, yeah.
"He was huge and he came up with some big plays. But it's the learnings. You know, we conceded on that side of the pitch against Sarries, just before half-time, and Jordan will say himself that he could have dealt with that situation better if he had it back again. But we'd all do things differently in the Sarries game if we could have it back again.
"And he learnt his lessons and came up with a huge play. That is why I was so happy for him. It was a great tackle because DTH van der Merwe is a serious player - very strong and very elusive, and he broke so many tackles but Jordo made that one count."
Sexton also highlighted the high press defence of his teammates that was so evident in the second half, when Glasgow were being hounded at every turn and were struggling to run the ball out of their half, 22 and beyond their own tryline.
One memorable sequence involved Sexton dinking a ball into the corner and three separate Leinster players sticking tackles on Warriors bodies behind their own tryline, leading to a sequence of scrums that, with the score at 18-10, chewed up the clock.
"It was nearly a good moment because we did a good kick and trapped them behind the tryline," Sexton recalled. "They nearly got away but we made sure we chased up on the open side.
"We went for a bold play, we went for the scrum when they were down to 14. And halfway through that period they got back to 15 and we were stubborn to keep going. We thought that we could get in on the left, the way they were set up defensively, but we weren't ruthless enough in that moment. But in those conditions, eight points is still a good lead and we were able to wear the game down for another 10 minutes, in and around that area.
"Look," Sexton concluded, "I'm very proud of the lads and the way Leo said that we bounced back after probably the lowest point in all of our careers really, in terms of losing a European Cup final."