Thursday 18 January 2018

Leinster and Exeter set up December qualification shoot-out

Glasgow warriors 18 Leinster 34

Leinster's Noel Reid celebrates with team-mates Jamison Gibson-Park, left, and Dan Leavy after scoring his side's fourth try Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's Noel Reid celebrates with team-mates Jamison Gibson-Park, left, and Dan Leavy after scoring his side's fourth try Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

December's double-header against Exeter will decide how far Leinster's Champions Cup pretensions can stretch after both teams took a firm grip on their proceedings in their pool.

After a second successive maximum-points haul, Leinster's destiny is in their own hands; recent history might suggest that, after playing only a third of their pool games, they are already halfway to the necessary points total required for a home quarter-final.

Tommy Seymour of Glasgow Warriors celebrates scoring a try in the second half Photo: Getty
Tommy Seymour of Glasgow Warriors celebrates scoring a try in the second half Photo: Getty

The December double-headers against Exeter Chiefs will be the hinge upon which the exit doors of Pool Three will swing open; mindful that the opening game is in Sandy Park, Leinster will, at the very least, seek to emerge from those with, perhaps, a 5-5 split.

Montpellier's interest will now be decided by their December devotion; given that Glasgow coach Dave Rennie all but conceded that his side will divert their attention to domestic fare, the French side's antennae may also not remain as keen. Stuart Hogg did reference Bath's historic achievement a couple of years ago, when they reached the knockouts after losing their opening two games, as Toulon did last term.

Contrast They were much easier pools, though, and both were far better balanced sides. Leinster, in stark contrast, literally couldn't ask for more from their opening two games. Ten out of ten.

"We still have a long way to go," Cullen cautions as this pool suddenly concertinaed into a straight shoot-out. "There can still be a lot of twists and turns in this pool. What my experience will tell me is not to get too excited by the first two rounds. There are lots of things we can get better at.

Leinster's Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Finn Russell of Glasgow Warriors Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Finn Russell of Glasgow Warriors Photo: Sportsfile

"This group has a lot of ability but some of them are still young and some of them are trying to build up that level of experience.

"There are a lot of games to take place before play our next Champions Cup game and that will be against a very difficult team in Exeter. They are a very efficient team and they don't give up much cheaply, if at all. They are very dangerous opposition."

The English champions proved as much in France yesterday by pulling off their finest win of their European history which, effectively, also may have eliminated Montpellier, after a stunning 27-24 win.

December will decide all.

Glasgow Warriors - S Hogg; T Seymour, S Johnson (N Grigg 69), P Horne (S Johnson 75), L Sarto (L Jones 61); F Russell, A Price; J Bhatti (A Allan 61), G Turner (P MacArthur 65), Z Fagerson (D Rae 78), T Swinson, J Gray, R Wilson (R Harley 6-23 blood; 28), C Gibbins (G Turner 75), A Ashe (S Cummings 62).
Leinster - J Carbery; F McFadden, R Henshaw, N Reid, B Daly (D Kearney 42); J Sexton (R Byrne 69), L McGrath (J Gibson-Park 62); C Healy (J McGrath 50), S Cronin (J Tracy 50), T Furlong, D Toner, S Fardy (J Ryan 55), R Ruddock, J van der Flier (D Leavy 50), J Conan.
Ref - J Garces (France)

Irish Independent

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