BRIAN O’DRISCOLL WAS in humble form as he accepted his man of the match award after Leinster’s emphatic 40-7 win over Northampton in Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup.
The 34-year-old reeled back the years with a try-scoring performance that had everything. A moment of genius that saw the centre pass the ball between his legs in the build-up to Luke Fitzgerald’s second try was a highlight, but there was more to his game than flashy skills.
O’Driscoll displayed an energy and desire that belied his age. However, in accepting his post-match award, the Ireland international told Sky Sports that he felt one of his teammates was more deserving of recognition.
I’ve got the man of the match but I find that amusing when I saw performances like Luke Fitzgerald’s today. I thought he was outstanding. Besides the tries, I thought his energy was fantastic. There were lots of those sort of performances.”
O’Driscoll did admit that there would be great pleasure taken from this six-try outing by Leinster. Matt O’Connor’s men utterly dominated the Saints and there were many positives for the Australian coach to take, as O’Driscoll pointed out.
“I think we’re very pleased. Obviously we set the foundation with a very good first half performance. It was probably a bit more stop-start in the second half, but I think we won both halves, didn’t we?
“I think that was a big emphasis at half time, to make sure we went out and treated it as a 0-0. We scored a couple of good tries and there were a couple of big performances from guys.”
O’Driscoll collects his prize after being named man of the match. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland.
There was a ruthless aggression in Leinster’s display, particularly at the breakdown. O’Driscoll and his teammates won the vast majority of the collisions over the course of the 80 minutes, meaning Northampton had few chances to create scores.
“I think it’s very satisfying. I think you know when you come to places like Franklin’s Gardens, you have to be very physical and your accuracy has to be spot on. I think we managed that.
We were pretty good, pretty efficient at ruck time, not committing huge numbers but the guys that were there were doing the appropriate job in putting the ball on a plate for Eoin Reddan. I think we were able to get our momentum off the back of that.”
O’Driscoll himself was full of spark in attack and defence, and looked 24 rather than a decade older than that. The iconic centre said he had enjoyed his 72 minutes on the pitch and stressed that he is focused on creating more history with Leinster this season.
“Listen, I had fun today. I have yet to finish 80 minutes this season. They’re looking after the old guy, but I’m enjoying it and it’s only my second game in blue this year. I love playing for this team.
“We’ve managed to build a relatively good history in recent years and now it’s about trying to build on that again.”