Dublin: 12°C Saturday 25 June 2022

Leinster's high-tempo gameplan aided by McFadden 'steel' out wide

The winger was a thorn in the side of Castres, and got a pain in the neck for his troubles.

IT TAKES A special kind of winger to get under the skin of a second row.

In the build up to Leinster’s fifth try yesterday many eyes, including referee Marius Mitrea’s, were drawn away from the line-break and pass inside the 22 because the edifice that is Richie Gray was driven to shaking Fergus McFadden like an unwanted rag doll.

Fergus McFadden and Richie Gray clash off the ball Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Gray wasn’t the first of the visiting pack to show his frustration with McFadden either. Early in the second half, hooker Marc-Antoine Rallier loitered for a second after coming through a ruck and flung out a half-hearted fist on McFadden’s arm.

The winger must be an absolute nightmare to play against: a solid tackler, a direct carrier and an absolute pest in tight areas where players in his position are usually blown away.

“Ferg’s as tough a bloke as I’ve ever coached, he gives you real steel on that edge,” said Matt O’Connor after reporting no noteworthy injury to his hard-working wing.

Fergus McFadden receives attention Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Complimenting that steel last night was the sprightly Dave Kearney on the opposite wing. The 25-year-old is now a month back after injury and returning to the peak of his powers in a back three that looks perfectly balanced.

“Dave’s getting back to some of the finishing that he demonstrated for us last year. It’s a good combination in the back three with Rob [Kearney] there. They look very dangerous with ball in hand, which is positive at this stage of the year.”

O’Connor agreed that last night was the best his back-line had performed this season, though he was careful not to even breath into his own trumpet, even going out of his way to lay some credit at the referee’s door.

“There’s a lot of things,” said the Australian. “Conditions were perfect, I thought officials were very strong in relation to cynical play and killing the ball. From that end I thought they were as good as we’ve had all year.

“There’s a lot of teams that will just kill the ball when you get opportunities and you get momentum at that end of the field that makes it really hard to score…

Exclusive NZ - IRE
Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's match analysis and Garry Doyle's updates from New Zealand exclusive to members

Become a Member

“The attitude was pleasing and the end result was exactly what we needed.”

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a plan come together.

The plan was to try and fit as much ball-in-play into the 80 minutes as possible. We thought if we could do that, given the conditions, we would get pay out of it at some point.

“We didn’t think we’d get paid as early as we did, with Dave’s try, but it was a great way to start the game. We were a bit untidy after that, but I thought the composure to keep playing throughout the first half was important and to come away with four tries gave us the luxury to rest guys up and manage the 23 which was very pleasing.”

The coach added: “The preparation was very good all week. We knew their [Castres] motivation would be questionable and if we got a platform up front there would be space to play. We tried to tap and go, counter attack and build phases by making them work really hard and we got the benefit of it.”

Unfortunately for McFadden, he was the one singled out for all of Castres frustration.

Munster fail to show up as error count proves costly at Saracens

‘Luxury’ of early bonus has Leinster in rude health for pool decider

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next: