We are 2 weeks into the new Guinness pro 12 season and it has already been a massively different season for Leinster over the last 3 seasons.
Starting with an expected opening win against Treviso in the RDS. The second week was going to be the first big marker of the season, taking on the Glasgow Warriors away in Scotland. Glasgow have been consistent for years and this was the year I had picked them to make the semi-finals of the league. And if you can reach the semi then you can reach the final. They had done some really good things, recruited well and have a great coach. This was their year. They are on the ascent whereas Leinster have been staying consistently inconsistent for the last few years. About as consistent and my ability to take the bins out, that being not very.
The opening game this year was strong for Leinster. The attack looked to be much improved, which was the big complaint last year. The blue wall of defence has been the one thing to improve recently and it was still there. But it was Treviso, and with all due respect to them, the victory should never have been in question and it never was.
And so the team jumped on a plain to Glasgow. The new pitch the nice Scotstoun Stadium waited. Leinster came out of the blocks. Playing like the champions of previous times. It was a confident, strong and inventive display from a team who appeared scared to do this over recent times. The players where trusted to perform and they did that. Glasgow where scared, but never out. Tommy Seymour kept them in relative touching distance, but Leinster moved into a 10 point lead with 50 minutes gone. Game plan was working, every play worked and those that didn’t meant the improvisation from the team was called into play and it worked. Joey Carbery and Luke McGrath played with confidence and skill which is fantastic to see. Rob Kearney showed form that he hadn’t shown in years and the team itself was confident.
And then Glasgow started scratching their way back in. they knew they had a player in Seymour who could cut Leinster to shreds. He has been epic in the opening 2 games for Glasgow. 6 tries in 2 games shows a player who is on form and confident of his ability to beat any player. He led the team back into the game and into the lead. He Scored 4 tries in the game and stretched out the lead to the final score of 33-25 to the home side.
That score line is not all doom and gloom. There was an intercept pass thrown by Carbery, there was a few missed tackled by Mike McCarthy and the team did appear to get tired towards the end. This early in the season that is somewhat expected. The preseason is one thing, game time and game intensity is completely another. Glasgow came back with intensity from the 10 point deficit and the tank was just empty for Leinster. This is an early season issue that all teams run into and won’t happen at the business end.
Again, the attack play was a step up. It was inventive and creative. Great to watch and it yielded results. Which is the point. There is no point in flashy rugby if no one scores. The defence was good, the interception and missed tackle aside. These where mistakes that can be learnt from. The new players stepped up against a full strength Glasgow and where not left wanting.
To me, this is the final of the league in game 2 of the season. By the time we get to the Aviva for the final, the Glasgow team will have stepped up to keep up with their in form Tommy Seymour and Leinster will have all the players back and playing in a style that has won championships in the past.
Hugely positive for this season and welcome Stuart Lancaster.
As usual @nkeegan for more