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    Tony Ward’s Indo column



    D'Arcy the fulcrum of best backline in country's history
    <DIV =LeadPara>AFTER the mid-week glitch in Limerick, work in progress resumed for Leinster at nostalgic Lansdowne Road on Sunday, albeit on the back of the proverbial game of two halves. </DIV>
    <DIV =LeadPara>In many ways, the much-hyped 'Last Stand' was the reverse of Thomond Park four days previously. Against Munster, an encouraging first-half 40 was followed by a collective 'no show' in the second. Crucially on this occasion, Denis Hickie's try in first-half injury time - despite the needless concession of three points to Paddy Wallace in the final play - convinced that, with a modicum of second-half go-forward ball, Leinster could win comprehensively. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The Triple Crown </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>winning backline of 1985 was pretty slick but </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>this unit is a </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>level up againSo, with just the one defeat (to Munster) in five highly competitive Heineken Cup and Magners League games, it's been a productive December for Michael Cheika's side. The positives far outweigh the negatives but the Leinster management are pragmatic enough to know their front five remains some way off the level required to threaten the heavy diggers in their path. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>That said, when you have the most talented backline in the competition by a street, you could never bet against a repeat of the Bath or Toulouse victories in a one-off encounter. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Unearthing intensity in the front five remains the critical challenge for Cheika and Mike Brewer - the same challenge that faced them when they first arrived but, by now, they know for certain that, if they can ensure anything remotely approaching parity at the breakdown, they can cut any other side in Europe apart. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>As Declan Kidney alluded to in Limerick, you defend best against Leinster by controlling the breakdown. If you ever want a barometer as to how Leinster are doing in the contact area, measure the number of times Gordon D'Arcy handles, be it as first or second receiver. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>In Limerick he was anonymous, at Lansdowne on Sunday he was back to his hard-yard effective best. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Although Ulster's Kevin Maggs has been Irish rugby's acknowledged route one heavyweight for some years now, when it comes to consistently taking play over the gain line and putting the opposition on the back foot, D'Arcy has few, if any, peers. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Stephen Keogh picked up the Man of the Match award on Sunday, and deservedly so, but, week-to-week, D'Arcy is Leinster's main man for forward momentum. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>And credit to their forwards, just as the Leinster eight had done at Ravenhill, the pack upped the ante in getting down and getting dirty after the break. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Yet again, despite conceding in the set piece they were hungrier, more committed and more productive in the tackle and fringe areas. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Any other outcome would have been a travesty and Leinster won every bit as convincingly as Munster had done in Limerick the previous week. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>David Knox will have been encouraged by rookie out-half Jonathan Sexton giving another accomplished display in a high intensity environment for the second week running. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Felipe Contepomi brings a different attacking dynamic and the fact he looked more at ease in the final quarter than he did on his introduction in Limerick, has provided a timely boost ahead of the critical January phase of the Heineken Cup. <
    Seas suas agus troid!

    #2


    Leinster not happy
    <DIV =LeadPara>'We got the right result withthree-quarters of a performance' </DIV>
    <DIV =LeadPara>Leinster 20 </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Ulster 12 </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>THEIR perceived penchant for partying may be a thing of the past but Leinster still managed to kick start one hell of a shindig at a jam-packed Lansdowne Road on Sunday. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>It was a performance packed to the gills with party tricks and magic moments and enough to see off the challenge of Ulster. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>They took their time warming to the task and, for long periods, Leinster were as befuddled as a party host who only realises by five past midnight that the clock has stopped while the vol au vents smoulder in the oven. Much of the befuddling was of their own doing and, as their penalty count reached the half-dozen mark by the end of the first quarter, a meltdown akin to Thomond Park and mid-season implosion looked likely. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>But the first moment of magic in the dying embers of the first-half - inspired by ring-leader Brian O'Driscoll, designed by Shane Horgan and finished by supreme poacher Denis Hickie - ensured Leinster remained in touch as Michael Cheika's predictably stormy half-time lecture loomed. Suitably jolted, Leinster gambolled about the old place in blissful ignorance of the awful weather conditions as defensive Ulster sorely missed the control of the sadly departed David Humphreys. Thankfully, x-rays yesterday confirmed that there was no break but the injury to elbow will definitely rule the veteran out-half out of this week's clash with Glasgow. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Remarkably, from 9-0 down and staring down the barrel of their first back-to-back defeats to Irish provinces in a decade, Leinster ended up ruing the lack of a bonus point. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"That's a bit disappointing for us because they got tired in the second-half, we had more ball and we had one or two chances to get that fourth try," mused Cheika philosophically. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Jamie Heaslip, to whom was bestowed the honour of dotting down the final try of Lansdowne's much-hyped ‘Last Stand', also regretted missing out on the fourth try. "At least we didn't let them get their bonus point though," he pointed out. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>All of which means Leinster are primed for a more credible title tilt than had seemed feasible at about three o'clock on Sunday. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>They are now just three points behind the champions ahead of the visit of third-placed Ospreys this Saturday. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"We badly needed the win," agreed O'Driscoll. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"It had been a good December for us with the wins against Agen but the defeat to Munster could have blown up our season a little. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>"We needed to bounce back after that. But it's just one result and all it means is that we're just one step closer to Ulster in league terms. We got the right result with three-quarters of a performance." </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Shambles </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>In a slow-burning half-an-hour, neither side were particularly impressive in any aspect of play, save the goal-kicking of Paddy Wallace, whose three penalties separated the teams by the 37th minute. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>The breakdown was a shambles, the scrum a war zone while neither side appeared threatening from the sporadic outbursts of ponderous open play beyond first or second phase. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>Referee George Clancy and his officials hardly helped matters; it's saying something when one feels tempted to wonder if either of the Changleng brothers might have been available for the gig such was the incompetence of the officials. </DIV>
    <DIV =TailParas>While players and coaches are always justifiable targets for criticism, referees too often evade the glare. However, when missing a knock-on forms merely one segment of a vast array of errors, the men in yellow deserve oppr
    Seas suas agus troid!

    Comment


      #3
      Grantd he is older,but how the hell can BOD be less fit now than 5 years ago?What about all this great new fitness work the team is doing?!?!?
      Seas suas agus troid!

      Comment


        #4


        He might be five years older but he is 27, about to turn 28, i'd have thought he would be at the peak of his powers.


        I'm not sure how legal it was as it was either a forward pass to himself or else Hickie took Kevin Maggs out through obstruction but it was still a pretty outrageous moment of skill.

        Comment


          #5

          Originally posted by blackadder


          I'm not sure how legal it was as it was either a forward pass to himself or else Hickie took Kevin Maggs out through obstruction but it was still a pretty outrageous moment of skill.
          It was legal as the ball doesn't go forward (he is running latterally and it actually goes back over Hickies head) and there is no obstruction as the ball starts out in front of Hickie. It was an incredible piece of skill

          Comment


            #6
            I was right in front of him when he did it on the West Lower. It was a stunning piece of skill, the whole crowd stood to their feet and willed him on him. Those Ulster playersshould have let him through on the back of the move probably being one of the best tries ever seen in LR, the spoilsports. When he got up Hickie went over and smiled as if to say "I don't believe you tried that", he was astonished by it as well. The guys a genius.
            Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

            Comment


              #7
              Is there any video of this up on the web? missed the game

              Comment


                #8


                Dave Cahil has posted a youtube clip


                @@@@SPAN =post>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzvnexjWJYg
                @@@@/SPAN>

                Comment


                  #9
                  cheers Drick

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Great skill. Great vision.



                    Pity he is slowing down though. He has fantastic pick up acceleration but by his own admission a reduced top speed.

                    Comment


                      #11


                      Originally posted by Harry
                      I was right in front of him when he did it on the West Lower. It was a stunning piece of skill, the whole crowd stood to their feet and willed him on him. Those Ulster playersshould have let him through on the back of the move probably being one of the best tries ever seen in LR, the spoilsports. When he got up Hickie went over and smiled as if to say "I don't believe you tried that", he was astonished by it as well. The guys a genius.

                      God forgive me but part of me wouldn't have minded if that had ended in a try.

                      Comment


                        #12


                        God forgive me too Blackadder, imagine for one second I wanted Leinster to score? [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]


                        Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          <DIV>
                          Originally posted by Dermot G
                          Pity he is slowing down though. He has fantastic pick up acceleration but by his own admission a reduced top speed.
                          </DIV>
                          <DIV></DIV>
                          <DIV>Does he still smoke? That could be a contributing factor.</DIV>
                          <a href=\"http://www.xboxlc.com/profile/Ruck_You\" target=\"_blank\">
                          http://www.xboxlc.com/cards/sig/default/Ruck%20You.jpg
                          </a>

                          If you’re fat stay in the ruck - Liam Toland

                          Comment


                            #14





                            You're both forgiven - it's quite understandable seeing as neither of you would be used to seeing that kind of entertaining rugby. Sorry about Sexton kicking that boring penalty, but then he has roots in Munster - and after all, Billy Keane is his Godfather!.


                            New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              old Dog it may have been entertaining, but he still didn't score. Down in Munster we likeour entertainment packaged very neatly.Complete and accurate, no loose ends, no odd parts, nothing left out and clinical. Leinster fans on the other hand will pay more to be entertained than educated in the business of winning. Now get back into your shed before I mention the Semi Final.
                              Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

                              Comment

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