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28th May 2019

20 phases, 14 players, 116 seconds and one perfect Leinster try

Patrick McCarry

Leinster try

Every player knew their purpose; knew their role.

They may have reverted to grinding, cup rugby in the final 20 minutes of the Guinness PRO14 final, in Glasgow, but Leinster put on a real show for the first hour.

Facing a Glasgow side that had put 50 points on Ulster, eight days before, Leinster played a high tempo game and rushed up on Ali Price, Adam Hastings and Sam Johnson – Warriors main distributors. The idea was to starve Glasgow of time and space. Sure, the would be the odd missed tackle but if the rest of the team were switched on, they could be covered.

For the opening 20 minutes, Leinster’s strategy looked risky but, as the game progressed, their continued intensity in defence and hard-wired attacking plays started to turn the tide.

Not long after Hastings had kicked Glasgow 10-5 ahead, Leinster were awarded a scrum over on the right flank and about 35 metres from the opposition tryline. What followed was a brilliant example of how this Leinster side operates.

Their 20-phase move, which eventually led to a Cian Healy try that put them ahead for the first time in the game, was lauded on Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby [from 14:00].

“Leinster didn’t flinch,” Murphy commented. “That phase of play, before the Cian Healy try, was just so impressive.

“I was watching it back and all 15 Leinster players were involved in it and it wasn’t just one-out runners. There were lads breaking through lines, coming on the loop, popping offloads. There was a purpose to it all.”

Looking back at that sequence – from 25:40 to 27:36 – only one Leinster player (James Lowe) did not make a carry. Luke McGrath had his hands on the ball 15 times, Sean Cronin made the most ground while Rhys Ruddock made three carries in the space of 60 seconds.

Phase 1

Off the scrum, Luke McGrath opted to go to Jordan Larmour on the blindside and the winger (14) made a gain of about five metres.

Phase 2

Scott Fardy (4) carries into a clatter of Glasgow forwards.

Phase 3

More ground gained as Sean Cronin (2) breaks the tackle of tighthead Zander Fagerson and battles on for another couple of metres.

Credit: Guinness PRO14

Phase 4

Johnny Sexton (10) takes a pass from Robbie Henshaw (12) and continue his run to get a popped return from Henshaw. He then passes to Rob Kearney (15) and Leinster have now breached the Glasgow 22.

Phase 5

Luke McGrath (9) picks and goes to gain another metre.

Phase 6

Garry Ringrose (13) picks and goes for another small gain.

Phase 7

Tadhg Furlong (3) plays scrumhalf at the ruck and passes to Cian Healy (1) for a short carry. Leinster are now 10 metres out.

Phases 8, 9 and 10

Rhys Ruddock (6) tries to spin out of a tackle but makes no ground.

A one-out carry from Josh van der Flier (7) but McGrath is upping the tempo now.

James Ryan (5) is up next for one of the 12 carries he made in the match.

Phase 11

Play is zipping to the right and Ruddock (6) shows for another carry.

Phases 12, 13 and 14

Jack Conan (8) runs hard but doesn’t get much change. Leinster are now in front of the posts.

Robbie Henshaw (12) dips low but can’t gain much ground.

Garry Ringrose (13) spins and bounces before presenting to McGrath.

Phase 15

Jack Conan (8) up again. He tries to get a pass away to the unmarked Rob Kearney (15) but DTH van der Merwe does excellently to wrap him up in the tackle.

Phase 16

Glasgow now attempt to slow ruck ball down for Leinster, prompting a complaint from Luke McGrath. James Ryan (5) makes another carry and van der Merwe goes for the steal only to be cleared out by van der Flier.

Phase 17

Sean Cronin (2) with the pick-and-go.

Phase 18

Rhys Ruddock (6) follows suit and the ball is inches from the tryline.

Phase 19

James Ryan latches onto Tadhg Furlong (3) who is repelled at the line.

Phase 20

Cian Healy senses there was now an opportunity to punch over the line. He takes a beat and Scott Fardy latches on. It is all about winning the collision with Rob Harley. With Jack Conan adding extra ballast, Healy powers through and Adam Hastings can do nothing to halt him either.

Credit: Guinness PRO14

It was a real show of force and focus from all 15 Leinster players. They were motoring now.

From the moment Healy touched down, Leinster grasped the lead. They would not let it go.

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