WITH CONCERNS PERSISTING over Jamie Heaslip’s future at Leinster, and Sean O’Brien’s shoulder dislocation providing more immediate worries, the performance of Jordi Murphy in the 19-6 win over Ulster this evening was greatly welcome.
Deservedly named man of the match for his try-scoring display, the No. 8 was at his physical best, winning nearly every collision he was involved in. Carrying the ball in both hands, the 22-year-old asked constant questions of the Ulster defence and suggested that he is the future of the Leinster back row.
Matt O’Connor’s men had been sorely lacking in ball carrying ballast in the recent defeats to Edinburgh and Northampton, but Murphy stood out in that department at the RDS. His role as a primary, route one carrier on first phase possession was vital to the Leinster victory; a duty he enjoys immensely.
Every player loves to get their hands on the ball, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Sometimes it’s just the pre-planned move where you carry. I’m not complaining.”
Matt O’Connor was pleased to emerge with a win, particularly given his side’s lack of efficiency inside the Ulster 22 in the first half. The home team utterly dominated possession and territory in the opening 40 minutes, but struggled to find an opening until Murphy’s try just before half time.
The No. 8 admits it was frustrating for Leinster before the interval.
“It was a little bit, I have to say. We went in at half time and we knew it was just one or two little things we had to tweak. I thought we got better in the second half. I know we didn’t score any tries, but I thought we were a bit more clinical overall.”
Murphy touches down for the only try of the game. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland.
What exactly were the “tweaks” Leinster needed to make?
“They were niggling at our ball a bit, winning penalties off us when we were deep in their 22, stuff like that. We just decided to put more pressure on, not leaving the rucks so bare, and we got what we wanted from it.”
Murphy was the beneficiary of a sublime Luke Fitzgerald offload in contact for Leinster’s only try of the night, but he still had plenty of work to do before dotting down. The No. 8 was humble in describing the score, suggesting that he had almost failed to hang onto the ball.
The pre-planned move got a bit messy at the back of the line-out and Lukey got the ball and broke through. I was just there and called it off him. To be honest, I fumbled it at first and then just saw the line and went for it; stuck my head down. Thankfully I stayed in play.”
Murphy will be confident that this is the beginning of his season proper, and he will have every intention of pushing for a starting spot for next month’s Heineken Cup pool fixtures. From a team point of view, he is content that the ‘losing streak’ of two games is at an end.
“To be honest, we weren’t really thinking about it. We were just thinking we need to move on. We never look back, we only look forward. So, it’s a big block of games coming up; this game, Connacht next week and then the two Heineken [Cup games].
“It’s just good to get back on winning ways and just lift the mood in the camp.”