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O'Malley's answer

TWO tries against Glasgow make strong case for stay at No 13, but coach says Fitz and McFadden also in mix

The beauty and ruthless reality of the Heineken Cup is that every match matters until you don't matter. You are only ever one home defeat away from a mini-crisis.

This is a stomach-churner that can be overcome. But, the immediate effect is to put the receiver on the back-foot and that is the one place no rugby team can operate from.

The pre-match request for a rousing cheer for the Leinster lads from 'yer man' on the loudspeaker yesterday sounded more like a yawn. That is what you get for a lunchtime kick-off - lethargy off the pitch.

The sleep was quickly wiped from the home supporters' eyes when the players showed energy on it, Jonathan Sexton's pinpoint punt taken in by Isa Nacewa and offloaded to Rob Kearney for the first try in the fourth minute.

The bonus-point was captured before half-time as Leinster clicked into top gear, Eoin O'Malley pouncing for a brace and his senior centre partner, Gordon D'Arcy, completing the set of four in the 39th minute.

From there, the wheels came off through the cat being in the sack without the string tightened and the introduction of a host of replacements. Isaac Boss's 79th-minute, try converted by Ian Madigan, completed a 38-13 rout which left Leinster leading Pool Three by two points from Bath, who beat Montpellier 16-13 at The Recreation Ground yesterday.

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt was keen to keep his players on their toes by refusing to give two-try centre Eoin O'Malley his backing to be the one to follow in the footsteps of 'The One' at outside centre.

"I would like to have clarity around who is the top outside centre," Schmidt considered.

"But there is competition for it. The ability is there for any of the three lads, Ferg (McFadden), Eoin (O'Malley) and Luke (Fitzgerald), to come in and fill that role."

Nevertheless, the instinctive positional sense and light, sure touch of O'Malley in possession revealed a natural ball player. He was once a fly-half at Belvedere College and gives Leinster scope and variety where they need it most.

Hovered

"Defensively, I thought he made a number of good reads," Schmidt added. "There were a couple of times when we were numbers down and he hovered and got guys organised around him. That, in itself, is a skill.

"That is something that has to grow in a younger player. There were lots of good things, a couple of really nice passes that allowed us to have the width to our game that we wanted.

Schmidt was also very complimentary about the impact of his back row: "Kev McLaughlin, I thought, pretty much led by example. The amount of times he took contact square on without budging!

"Jamie Heaslip tidied up a fantastic ball in the second-half that it looked like they would score from and Sean O'Brien, the volume of play that he got through was massive. I think he is still building.".

Glasgow coach Sean Lineen summed it up in no-nonsense terms: "We got caught with our pants down around our ankles. We didn't come to the table.

"That first 40 minutes was pretty hard to watch. We were well and truly spanked. There was only one team in it in attack and defence. They were a lot more intense than us, very direct, very abrasive.

"There were four or five instances where they stripped the ball away from us, like candy from a baby. It was man against boys at times.

"We've found out about the Heineken Cup champions on their own doorstep. They just really stuck it to us. They were incredibly physical, incredibly motivated."

Little wonder Richie Gray is off to Sale Sharks at the end of the season.


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