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Munster style can work for Leinster

I was wondering to myself during the week if the game that has produced so many outstanding players in the past number of years had finally begun a slow but apparent slide.

Forgetting about Ireland for a moment, and with no disrespect to Ulster, who currently top the Rabo table, the Leinster-Munster derby had a much less-than-anticipated build-up than the furore normally associated with the big two over the years.

To be fair to both Munster and Leinster, injuries aside, this match-up has arguably fielded far stronger starting 15s in previous outings. However, it has to be stated that rarely have I seen such high quality offloading, running lines and use of width from two Irish sides.



inept

It was end-to-end stuff right from the first whistle. I have mentioned before in this column that for the most part our talent has been wasted in the last 10 years, due to the largely pre-programmed mindsets of certain coaches, especially when you see rugby of such high quality on display.

One does consider the big step-up to the international game and the fact that professionalism has moved on, but it had nothing to do with the quality of continuity and interplay between the two sets of players that have clearly bought into what their provincial coaches have told them.

The pace of the match was relentless -- for example, when Conor Murray or Eoin Reddan were off their feet, there was always a great awareness, mainly by forwards, to come in and play in the scrum-half role in order to keep the quickly produced possession moving.

The tries, when they came, were excellently taken, and the quality of passing between the two teams also has to be noted. Younger players would have learned from watching how much time it buys for players who are always catching the ball in front of them at full tilt without ever having to adjust their speed and catch the ball.



adjust

Leinster were a completely different animal from the week before. It seems that they save their best rugby for the bigger games. One wonders how they can hold so much back and apparently change their game plan and adjust their points of attack on a weekly basis.

For Munster, the width they provide themselves through high-quality movement off the ball and spatial awareness is exemplary.

Ultimately, it will take Penney a while to get his best 15 on the pitch and over the coming years he knows he will have to acquire some gam- breakers in key positions out wide to truly maximise the template he has now given this Munster unit, who have instantly adopted to their new style of play.

While Munster fought valiantly to the end and probably finished the stronger of the two sides, one felt that they had thrown all but the kitchen sink at Leinster as each side traded scores time and again in the first half.

Leinster did adjust well to the Munster attack and seemed happy to concede some yardage out wide early on.

When Munster looked to probe the midfield channels, the Blues managed to slow down possession.

When you play that style of game, the midfield contact areas usually become vital in producing fast ball, especially when you are looking to launch players in the wider channels.



pinnacle

I do believe Munster are on the right track with their game, but their supporters should note that while they may enjoy what they see, it could take some time before it converts into real results against the bigger sides.

It may take some time before they reach the pinnacle of Europe once again, but they now have a discernable template to build on.

Leinster, in the end, showed their class and clinical edge, especially in the 15 minutes after the break where a Eoin McFadden break resulted in a very well-produced O'Driscoll try.

There was an opportunity for Jamie Heaslip to exploit an overlap in the previous phase, but all-in-all it was a very well-executed try which gave Leinster some daylight, ultimately deciding the outcome of the game.

If Leinster can keep playing the way they always have and achieve big things in Europe yet again, then hats off to them.

Part of me would love to see them taking some of what Munster are trying to do in terms of style. That, I believe, would elevate their game to a higher level and as a result become a much more difficult opponent for the big guns in Europe who wait eagerly in the wings.


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