The future of Leinster and Ireland's second row is officially here
LEINSTER 55-19 GLASGOW
Nineteen not out.
"Ryan Baird, the star of the future!" declared Tommy Bowe at the end of Leinster's latest whomping of an over-run Glasgow Warriors side. How about the star of right now?
The 20-year-old Leinster academy lock was playing in only his sixth game of his professional career, on just his second start, but he has well and truly arrived now. A star of last year's Ireland Under 20 side, Baird outshone his experienced second partner partner and the other 28 men that started at The RDS tonight.
In terms of raw figures, Baird made 91 metres off 21 carries with two clean breaks and five defenders beaten, as well as landing nine big tackles. He scored tries after five, 56 and 64 minutes and made ground on just about every carry he made.
Tipped by SportsJOE, back in November 2019, to make his Ireland debut in 2020, many will be calling for Baird to get elevated to the senior set-up by Andy Farrell for the remainder of the Guinness Six Nations.
As for the fare served up at The RDS, this evening, Leinster put their foot to the floor from the first minute until the very end and helped themselves to nine tries. Baird may have to scrap it out for the match ball with Dave Kearney, who also scored three, while James Lowe helped himself to a brace.
Leinster have made an enviable habit of scoring early and often and it mattered not a jot that Glasgow Warriors had selected 15 internationals in their starting XV.
Kearney got over after a sling-shot Harry Byrne pass while Baird's first arrived only a couple of minutes later. Lowe's first try came after a super Scott Fardy carry and offload while the bonus point was secured before half-time when Fardy (who finished with two try assists) powered over.
Warriors started the second half with a Kyle Steyn try before the hosts responded with two of their own, first from the blazing Lowe before Baird opened his legs up and skated past a flailing Glasgow defence.
Just as we were marvelling over Baird scoring at the double, he was over the line and celebrating his first ever senior hat-trick. By the looks of how this 20-year-old prospect operates, and with Leo Cullen saying he can start at 6 and 8, it may not be his last.
There was a quick check about a Lowe clear-out but referee Nigel Owens waved away those concerns and that home crowd acclaimed their new second row sensation.
Ryan Baird is only 20 years old and he's already crushing it!
A 60-minute hat-trick for the Leinster lock!pic.twitter.com/6Wim61DiCy
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) February 28, 2020
Alex Allan gave the Scots hope of securing a consolation try-scoring bonus point when he crossed for his side's third score but Leinster answered back with two more scores before Owens blew for full-time.
Dave Kearney bagged his 13th and 14th tries of the season with two in four minutes and Leinster had doled out another resounding beating.
As for Baird, just imagine this guy teaming up with James Ryan for the next decade... !
OUR MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Baird (Leinster)
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Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by former Ireland centre Lynne Cantwell as they look back on England's dominant victory over Andy Farrell's side at Twickenham.