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Leinster's Lowe lights up with attacking magic but balances out with errors

The Leinster wing is continuing to learn as he settles in with Leinster.

Murray Kinsella reports from Montpellier

WE WERE STANDING near the tunnel at Altrad Stadium interviewing Sean Cronin when James Lowe passed by.

By all accounts he’s the new funny man in Leinster’s group and he couldn’t resist chipping in by giving a decent impression of Cronin; ‘Oh, I’m back in the international set-up, listen to me!’

Sean Cronin celebrates his try with James Lowe Lowe was excellent going forward for Leinster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Lowe moved swiftly on after drawing a smile from Cronin with his slagging, but the positive energy coming from him was as obvious as it is on the pitch. Leinster have been enjoying having Lowe in their environment, while the province’s fans have been loving his impact on the pitch.

The match-up between Jordan Larmour and Nemani Nadolo was the more hyped wing contest before Leinster’s clash with Montpellier, but it transpired that the other pair of wide men, Lowe and Timoci Nagusa, saw more of the action.

Lowe was particularly prominent in Leinster’s 23-14 victory, once again thrilling with his scintillating ability to beat defenders and offload out of contact.

The Kiwi wing actually carried the ball more often than any other player on the pitch, with a total of 16 carries, and threw four first-half offloads as he danced past four defenders too.

His basketball-style pass to Jamison Gibson-Park for Leinster’s early opening try through Ross Byrne was beautiful and he very nearly scored himself when the scrum-half offloaded back to him, only for Montpellier’s desperate defence to drag him down just short.

Lowe had another similar pass to Gibson-Park later in the half, while he brought energy and impact with nearly every one of his touches as he ran for over 80 metres with ball in hand.

James Lowe offloads to Josh van der Flier in the tackle from Kelian Galletier Lowe made four offloads for Leinster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

As has been obvious since he arrived in Leinster and for several years before that, the 25-year-old is an exceptional attacking talent and makes life even more difficult for opposition defences with his footwork, skill level and power.

Lowe’s penchant for roaming off his wing brings so much to Leinster’s phase play too, offering another option for his scrum-half and often distracting fringe defenders to the benefit of his team-mates.

These are still early days in Lowe’s time with Leinster but the win over Montpellier also showed that there are areas of the game where the former Chiefs wide man can make huge improvements.

Defending on the wing is a difficult task but Lowe would have been disappointed with a couple of his reads in the first half as Montpellier moved into control of the game at 14-8.

Making reads on the edge of the defence, deciding when to shoot up and when to sit off, is a key role for any wing and Lowe can certainly grow in this department.

Being part of the defensive system, rather than just an individual defender, is key and it seems likely that Lowe will improve as he becomes more comfortable with Leinster and understands his team-mates’ habits and tendencies that bit better.

Josh van der Flier, James Lowe and Jack Conan after the match Lowe and Leinster thank their travelling support. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Lowe had a pass intercepted by Nadolo in the first half and his failure to control a restart was also damaging for Leinster.

Making errors is part of every game for every player – indeed, for anyone at their job – but Leinster will be hoping that Lowe can reduce the number of them as the season progresses.

What is very clear is that Lowe has brought something very different to the party for Leinster and despite there being an element of risk to some of his attacking decisions, it seems the rewards will far outweigh that.

Nailing his defensive duties and being secure under kicks are the next steps for Lowe.

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