Devin sets Tone for winner-takes-all visit to take the sting out of Wasps in Coventry

Devin Toner

By Des Berry

It will take all of Leinster's rediscovered reliability at the set-piece to establish a platform for their progress towards The Champions Cup quarter-final at The Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

"It makes sense if it's down to a straight shoot out, doesn't it?," said Devin Toner when asked for his preference between a winner out of Harlequins and Wasps, later on Saturday night.

As it turns out, they will re-engage with a Wasps collective that demonstrated their current well-being by doing to Conor O'Shea's Harlequins what Leinster couldn't do at The Stoop.

Toner was not about to let the fact that Leinster devoured a Castres club with nothing to play for colour the enormity of what is coming straight at them.

"It was a good performance. We took our chances, we knew we had to," he added.

"It's going to be hugely different next week. It will be a huge shoot-out and very interesting for people to watch."

It will all begin at the set-piece where Leinster generated the quick, front-foot ball their ravenous backline gorged on against Castres.

"They've got a good scrum, good lineout, good set-piece from what I remember (from round one).

"With bad performances, it all stems from that set-piece and breakdown. If they aren't correct, you get bad performances," imparted Devin Toner.

"We knew coming into this game that our set-piece hasn't been up to scratch," he said.

While Castres were wiped out with relative ease, the sturdy scrummaging of Martin Moore, Sean Cronin and the under-valued Michael Bent put in the foundation for further fine work there by Tadhg Furlong, Richardt Strauss and Jamie Hagan, making a real go of his transfer from three-to-one.

"Our scrum went really well and we got what we wanted out of the lineout. It was all positive there, anyway," said Toner.

"It was good to see everything clicking, everything happening the way it is suppose to happen. It adds into the confidence of the squad."

It was significant that hooker Cronin and tight-head props Moore, looking trim and tremendously assured, and Furlong supplied three of the seven tries at The RDS.


While this is not exactly their primary role, it does reflect how well Leinster did in the trenches in releasing their big men.

They will have to go harder next week against a set of bread and butter front-five forwards without the athleticism of England international Joe Launchbury.

Wasps will have Wales second row Bradley Davies, the man who dangerously dumped Donnacha Ryan head-first from a height in the Six Nations in 2012, to set out their stall.

"I know a lot about Bradley Davies. I played a lot against him when he was at Cardiff and he's a hard player," said Toner.

"He's a hard, nutty sort of player and he's a bit of an enforcer. He likes to enforce himself on the game anyway, and he's quite good in the air as well."

Surely, coach Matt O'Connor will not stray too far away from the same formation that found form against Castres.

All season, the excuse has been that Leinster have been unable to fine rhythm because the coach has had to chop and change due to injury.

There has to be a 'no fear' mantra taking Jack Conan and Jordi Murphy, should they make it, into the embrace of the physically intimidating Wasps back row of Ashley Johnson, James Haskell and Nathan Hughes.

For Leinster to get their go-forward, the front five will have to move forward in terms of their set-piece framework.