Tuesday 16 January 2018

Hogan: 'A' team will continue to play ambitious rugby

Leinster 'A' head coach Hugh Hogan (SPORTSFILE)
Leinster 'A' head coach Hugh Hogan (SPORTSFILE)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leinster 'A' head coach Hugh Hogan insists that his side will look to play a similar brand of rugby to the one that saw them easily claim top spot in their British and Irish Cup pool.

Hogan's youngsters will host London Welsh at Donnybrook tomorrow evening (7.0) and after racking up 29 points from a possible 30 in the pool stage, they will continue with their expansive style of play that saw them score 240 points - the most of any side in the competition.

London Welsh finished runners up to Cornish Pirates in their pool and although they are languishing in seventh place of the Championship table, Hogan is expecting a tough challenge after they showed impressive form of late.

"We had a chat with the guys during the week and I suppose because we haven't played in a number of weeks that just reinforces the values of this team and what we said we'd be about at the beginning," Hogan explained.

"We do want to play with ambition and we do want to play what's in front of us but we've got to make sure that we look after the basics; that we're good in our collisions, we're good on our go-forward ball.

"Then we'll bring in the decision-making as to when it's on to move the ball. Our ambition certainly doesn't change. The stakes are higher because it is knockout rugby but we don't want to get away from the enjoyment that the lads get from being able to express themselves by playing a good brand.

"We just want to make sure that we do that at the right time and when we do that we're accurate."

With Donnybrook's 4G surface likely to suit Leinster's pacey backline, Hogan has warned that London Welsh will also look to move the ball at every opportunity.

"I think London Welsh's confidence will be up after recent results," he said.

"They're a team who've shown good form over the last four weeks. They've slipped down the table to where they wouldn't have liked but in the last few weeks, they've shown good form.

"They had a narrow loss to London Scottish but then followed that up with three wins.

"They've played a fairly similar team over the last four weeks. They may make a couple of changes coming to Dublin but their team has shown good form.

"They're a team that have good threats around the park. A lot of the teams in the Championship are very strong in the scrum and the maul and they're no different.

"But they also play a really good brand of rugby. They have Olly Barkley playing at 10 for them in most of their Championship games. He pulls the strings and he's involved in their coaching panel as well so I think he's got a strong influence in their attack and how they play.

"They do play quite an expansive brand so I think them coming to Dublin and playing on a fast track on astro will actually suit their style as well so it should be interesting on Saturday evening."

Leinster 'A' may be without a game in seven weeks but the focus has at least been on them in training this week with the senior side having the weekend off.

"It's definitely a help. The seniors usually play in the weeks that we do. They're usually prepping for a European Cup match or Pro12, which are big games.

"At the front end of those weeks, we get a window of time to prep our guys and then there is definitely a focus on the seniors on the other days of the week."

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