Conor Cronin The wins in the previous 3 rounds with a big injury list, outdone by getting through that game in spite of the injuries.
We allowed the scots to dictate big parts of that game but once we took charge we’d 2 quick tries and that was it. raging for James Ryan not to get the score or the assist with that fine supporting run, and not to have got the BP.
Players really stood up and were counted, and while there were mistakes it’s the attitude of getting up and getting the next phase right that is the core of this team right now.
James Griffin What a very special group of men! To play through so much adversity and win is why they have the ranking they have. Speedy recovery to the injured.
Mark Jackson Think that covers most contingencies ..struggling to come up w new ones ..maybe Hugo Keenan as a LO jumper…Jukebox finally kicking for goal.
Kevin Kelehan Dogged in the extreme, not much more could have gone against them, the disallowed first try, the smashing of Doris in the air in the line out and no sanction, then Sheehan and then Henderson so early in the game. Today was proof that even a much improved Scotland with tails up in front of a noisy crowd could not derail Ireland seriously discommoded by injuries. Time to nail Farrell and Catt down for a contract extension before the World Cup!
Lee O Farrell They always talk about the rub of the green but the lads today made their own luck.
An incredible performance. One of the things that sets this group apart from previous Irish teams is the headspace. And these lads have it in spades!
Andrew Potts Every benefit of the doubt was given to Scotland by the Ref.
Even the fact he was joking around when Ringrose was being attended to for a serious injury was completely tone deaf.
Brian Nisbet Grand Slam still very much on. 7-22 in Edinburgh. Very scrappy match and concerning injuries, but still, it’s a win and any issues will be forgotten after the fifth win next weekend.
Marc Fritsche The players will be in nothing but ice baths for the week, that was extremely physical
Imelda Reidy Great Italian performance. Job done. 5 points. On we roll.
Andrew Byrne Today showed one thing in particular, that Gary Ringrose is a world class operator and is streets ahead of the rest of them at playing outside centre. 12 and 13 are two very different positions, as shown by our defensive lapses today.
Alan Murphy Brilliant. Two teams playing the game in a positive way. Italy have really improved. Let’s be honest, some of our team today were 2-3rd choice and a few played out of position. We scored a bonus point, left some tries out there and also managed to think our way out of danger today. Previously we would have lost this game. Building strength in depth. So positive from me.
Joanne In fairness to Kieran Crowley, not only has he got Italy playing brilliantly, he’s got them believing too. So good to see and long may it continue.
Koochulainn Another win with a bonus point without conceding a losing bonus.
The performance wasn’t perfect, and Italy found some flaws in the defensive system, but you can’t get any more than five points.
Italy were great value for money too. After today and the 20s last night Italian rugby is heading in a good direction.
POTM Mack Hansen dropping an F bomb in the post match interview was a lovely coda
Colm Splendid match. Continued resurgence and improvement from Italy, and as usual this year, Ireland responded magnificently to pressure. Really looking forward to Murrayfield next month.
Some great individual performances, a few players who might feel they can improve on individual aspects, particularly Porter for me, who was responsible for almost half our penalties, can’t be that sloppy against the French. (though I’m discounting the one conceded as they scored a try)
Expectation will be high going onto next week, and rightly so, I want to see the same high intensity against France
Out of the traps so quickly. We were so powerful in the first 30 minutes they didn’t have any answers.
Thought we coped pretty well in the third quarter when they threw everything they had at us and then a few fresh legs gave us the momentum to finish pretty strongly.
Job done. Rough second half but we shouldered it well.
Can’t help but think the ref played a part in their comeback but cest la vie.
I still can’t see the logic in bringing gatland back.
Andrew ByrneThat first half was ruthless, we were too comfortable in the 2nd half. That won’t be good enough next week, but you can only play one match at a time.For Wales they can fix a lot very quickly and will take scalps later in the tournament.
Brian Nisbet 10-34, with the Welsh playing much better in the second half. But that’s a clear statement of intent from Ireland with a BP win in the first match. Good stuff!
Rob Atkinson A much better performance from Wales, but need to be a lot better in the opposition 22, they need to be better. I’m sure it will come together later in the tournament
Brian Nisbet @natural20 19-24 in Swansea. Come back was quite late, but a win is a win and well done to the lads for doing what needed to be done.
Jay Long @Jay_Long_626 Seriously good win on the road and Ospreys were proper up for it. Turned it on when it counted, I think Nick McCarthy won us that game imo. Just slipped us into a flow. Never in doubt
If you think you can answer questions like the one in the graphic above in five seconds or less, then have a go at our quiz there’s 12 altogether, see if you can do better than three of our contributors.
(also a report from France on the match conditions by Tom Coleman)
FULL TIME TAKES
Andrew Potts Very good performance by Leinster and adapting well to Racing flooding the ruck. As always Leinster very focused as 15 on the park, impressive by JVdF nuisance all day which is a compliment for a 7 and still gas at 79 for a solo!
Gerald Williamson Will not complain. A convincing win in the end. Even missing one or two key players, Leinster did the job for the bonus pt win. Stuart has a idea what awaits him next season.
Gavin Hegarty Job done, BP done. Racing should be embarrassed to lose by 32 at ‘home’. We need to do better but you can only play what’s in front of you.
Chris McDonnell Without Sexton Henshaw and Furlong and still almost flawless. A little too much kicking for my liking but hey
RichardMifsud You don’t win anything in December, especially in the #championscup but you can lay down markers and #leinster did just that in Le Havre That was easily their best 80 of the season thus far Caelan Doris worthy POTM but big performances across the park Let’s see where we are in May in #dublin #R92vLEI
Jay Long You can only play what’s there but was really happy to see how hungry we were throughout. The lads chased everything. Sensational start. We’re on the road again!
Ross Carrick I wasn’t expecting this from Racing. Lack of sustained possession and phase building. Leinster aren’t at their best but are deserved three score leaders.
Robin Cafolla I remember when you feared going to France no matter who you were playing. Safe to say those days are over. Very dominant display from Leinster.
Brian Nisbet 10-42, what a wonderful victory in France! Perfect start to this year’s European campaign from a team that are playing very well together!
BP win on the road, always a good thing. Was it perfect and world class? No. But it was enough against poor opposition. We continue to build players and get them experience, nothing wrong with that. Definitely something wrong with the penalty count though
Played Great . Great To See The New Lads Making Their Debuts . Top Of The Table . 👍🏉💙
If you’ve seen one of these games you’ve seen them all. Blood a few new players on the conveyer belt in a pretty run of the mill 5 pointer against poor opposition.
Rob Russell isn’t the flashiest player on the pitch but he has shown, so far this year, that his awareness, positioning and finishing are absolutely first class.
Andrew Potts There is a gratuitous physicality to SA rugby, we lost a few players to careless confrontation, hopefully two of them will not be a serious as it looked.The refereeing needs sharpening up as both teams looked confused by what was being applied at the breakdown.Nice to see a very mean Leinster coming out in the second half and all the lads off the bench more than happy to dish it out.Not often Leinster hit 50 points and think it was a contest.One down side was not getting the last try. 60 points would have been nicenicely
Martin Loughrey Watched the 1st half live and just finished the 2nd after feeding the kids/animals. What a game!! So many good things, but the main thing that stands out is adaptablity. How many players were out of position at the end of that 80 minute 20 point win over a good strong opposition? Obviously I hope that Ruddock, Larmour, Ngaitai, but most of all Baird are ok. But a great team performance across the 23. Ringrose obviously impressed on the wing of all places. Byrne came on in the centre, and Martin Mololney and Foley got a lot more game time than originally planned, but the team stayed on course. Rob Russell did very little wrong on his debut and crossed the whitewash. Henshaw was his usual self, as was Sheehan, and Ngatai’s kick for Henshaw’s try wasn’t just incredible for it’s accuracy, but also the awareness in it. All in all a great performance. Roll on next week!
Dave Murray Questionable tackling aside it was a great end to end game of rugby. The addition of the 4 SA teams have definitely improved the league and will make it much more exciting to watch going forward and in Europe.
Richard Collumb Fantastic win, best game of rugby I’ve seen in while. Ringrose class, Foley great with quick ball & Sexton still the master. Tough games like this can only help Leinster (& Ireland) this season.
Roy Thompson Cracking game of Rugby. High scoring, and highly entertaining. Yes, there were errors, but both sides were fully committed, creating and taking scoring opportunities. A great game to watch.
Greg Kelly Not sure how the Baird one wasn’t red. Abrahams makes no attempt to challenge for the ball and flips him in the air causing him to land head first. You take the 2nd Sharks player out and Abrahams would have walked.
Gavin Hegarty Thoroughly enjoyable game. Some great flowing rugby but also some awful defensive mistakes from Leinster so I’d say they are going to have a rough week. The majority of the sharks tries came from our mistakes which created a large overlap for them.
Richard Mifsud Congrats @ZebreParma they were v/good value for the score line from a @leinsterrugby pov very poor D esp in midfield lacking cohesion kicks loose giving away too many metres Plenty for the coaches to review BPW w/much to improve #ZEBvLEI @URCOfficial
Tom Coleman From Leinster pov tackling has been very substandard means defending has been chaotic with very little cohesion. Worried about lack of urgency from our chasers from kicks. Just giving free 20 to 30m to their back 3. Lots to work on. Not a good performance #ZEBvLEI
Andy McGeady Fair play Zebre. Leinster very, very, very, very lucky to hold on for that win. Very very very very very very very very very lucky. #ZEBvLEI
The 2nd Row Zebre put some great attack together showed real intent & imagination, tonnes of fight, lots of heart 2 bonus points for them out of that game is a huge result could’ve been more if their patience & accuracy was 5/10% better, esp in that final 10 minutes
Miriam Collins Phew, thankfully we held on at the end and maybe, just maybe that result will stand to us later in the season. Would much prefer a scare at this part of the season than at the business end.
Derek McGee Gotta say, that was poor. Yes, early season rust is always a consideration but there were some lads out there who looked like they’d never met each other before today. None of the backs covered themselves in glory but in particular, the five men behind the half backs will be dreading Monday’s video session. “Turnstile” tackling, and that was only when they actually made contact. A hell of a lot to work on there. On the forwards, okay at best. You could count the good performances on one hand (if you have particularly tiny Trump hands): Rhys did what Rhys does & was excellent during his time on the field, Ronan Kelleher was solid, as was Ross Molony & what we saw from Jason Jenkins was very encouraging. The scrum was dominant until the second half changes & fairly solid thereafter, so there is that. Have to give Zebre their due though, they were as good as I’ve ever seen them & pretty much all of their tries were very high quality. If their outhalf had his radar on, this might have been One Of Those Days. A tiny silver lining is that this should serve as a wake-up call good & early in the season: We’ve seen before how coasting through until May can bite us in the rear, come the business end of the season, so chalk this one down as a tough lesson on Day One.
Chris McDonnell Penny wins a turnover in a great position, Mcgrath kicks the ball straight back to them. Byrne at 10 is just a mistake. Leo needs to learn from his mistakes
WHAT’S THIS COLUMN FOR EXACTLY?
So….in case you hadn’t noticed, the theme here at Harpin Manor this season has been “re-imagining”. The logo, the designs, the bells, the whistles, even the domain name has been tinkered with ahead of the new campaign.
Yet the most important change has been to the centrepiece of our content production. For the past 14 seasons, the main focus has been the “match writeup” where I scribbled around 2000 words on the latest Leinster & Ireland outing every week. Now the work I do for that is being switched from written word to spoken and for the foreseeable future it will be our “main podcast”, recorded and published on Sunday evening, that serves to wrap up the action from the weekend on these pages.
I’ve really enjoyed the new challenges since we began back on August 21, producing more pods, publishing video clips on YouTube and Tik Tok to help promote them, and I reckon this week’s wrap on Zebre v Leinster, with the brilliant help and preparation of Messrs Coleman & Mifsud I might add, is very close to the way I want it and I’m very excited about the weeks ahead both from Leinster-rugby-watching and a Harpin’-content-producing perspectives.
Here’s the thing though…I really, really do like the writing. So I’ve come up with this column, which I’m calling 80+, which I’m going to tack on to my post here on the site promoting each pod so I can harp on a host of egg-chasing stuff, some of it to do with the match in question, maybe some thoughts I forgot to bring up on the pod, but also with a wider scope as well.
So that’s what I plan the 80+ column to be, a series of headings on different things that have been on my mind lately. I’ve probably given enough words to explain what the column is, and now it’s time to actually use it for what it’s intended!!!
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
One thing I forgot to ask the lads about in the pod was how they felt about Rhys Ruddock being named Player of the Match by Gordon D’Arcy in the RTÉ commentary box. Obviously I love Rhys and his two tries went a long way to establishing enough of a lead for us to hold onto, but personally I thought it was in our second row where we needed the leadership and when Zebre first got within 6 points of us, IMO it was Ross Molony who really knuckled down and made the right call at the next attacking lineout to put us in a position to get that all-important fifth (and ultimately winning) try. Yes, I know he dropped the restart at 21-0 that kickstarted Zebre’s fightback, but those catches aren’t all down to the guy who is relying on lifters and I have to say overall I’m excited for what this Molony/Jenkins axis can do for us this season, especially in this opening 7-round block of URC matches.
Of course with the final score so close there was always the option to go for a Zebre player and I consulted the lads from the pod via WhatsApp and they agree that while Molony was a choice, the likes of Eden, Gesi and Pelsner from the home side were also in the frame.
THE POINT OF A TRY BONUS
I was delighted when Rich brought up the try bonus point issue on the pod because it’s something I’ve been harpin’ on for a while. As delighted as I was with Leinster’s maximum-point haul on Saturday, when I take the blue googles off I have to ask if we really deserved one? Four tries in the first half is impressive yes, but when you go on to concede a further three down the other end to shrink your lead from 21 down to just 4, I’m not so sure it can be justified.
The way the system works in the Top😺🐴 is that you must score 3 more tries than your opponent which means racking up four tries in a first half isn’t near enough for a BP, you also have to make sure you defend your line right to the 80th minute. It also means the vast majority of losing teams won’t be able to earn one. That may be harsh on Zebre but don’t forget, they also conceded five tries!
It’s just my new way of writing the Top14. Because it’s French, they don’t say “fourteen”, they say “quatorze” so I thought this might get more people saying it at least a bit closer to what it is. My original idea was to make it all graphic by using the cartoon character Top Cat along with a horse but then I realised just how dated a reference that is so best not broadcast my age when I can avoid it!
“THAT CALL BY REYNAL”
Our podcast ended up being over an hour so some of it ended up on the “cutting room floor”, although I did hold on to this clip which was my thoughts on Mathieu Reynal’s decision to give a free kick against the Wallabies’ Bernard Foley at a critical stage of the Bledisloe Cup clash during the week.
In the pod I mentioned our Harpin’ Prediction League, you’ll be hearing a lot about it over the course of the URC campaign. The idea is not so much to finish first (although if you keep tabs on the standings you might be interested in what the league leaders are predicting when it comes to our preview shows) rather to not finish last, for which the punishment is to have to wear The Jersey Of Doom, and since I got the questionable honour last season, it was down to me. I tried to wear it in the preview pod but half of it clashed with the green screen so here you see the one and only time I will post a shot of me wearing it on a Harpin platform, ever. A bet is a bet, after all.
It’s no more Mr Nice Guy when it comes to this season’s league, however…I’m gunning for first now!!! As you can see by the standings after round one I’m not off to a bad start although Tom is the guy to beat.
OUR NEXT HARPIN’
During the week we’re planning a bonus pod where I’ll be finding out all about the Rugby Europe Super Cup and it’s eight clubs, then I’ll be reviewing the last match involving our European opposition Racing 92 as well as Friday’s visitors to the RDS Benetton, keep an eye on TikTok for content there.
Next it will be all eyes on the RDS home opener, with the team announced at lunchtime on Thursday, then our video preview, the usual harpin’ from kickoff to the final whistle and finally our wrap up show on Sunday evening followed by the next 80+ column on the Monday.
Enough to be getting on with I reckon!!! In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP