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Dublin: 2°C Tuesday 13 April 2021
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'We were lucky' - Man of the match Heaslip wants more from Leinster

The Ireland No. 8 gave an open and accurate analysis of his side’s performance at the RDS.

Heaslip got through a mountain of work for Leinster.
Heaslip got through a mountain of work for Leinster.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

JAMIE HEASLIP SERVED up a superb reminder of his credentials as a leader for Leinster against Wasps at the RDS last night.

For those who haven’t seen the numbers yet, the Ireland international No. 8 got through 23 carries and 12 tackles, leading counts on both fronts for his team. While there is no publicly available figure for his rucking effectiveness, it was through the roof too.

Crucially, Heaslip delivered the big plays when Leinster needed them most, including the marauding linebreak in the lead-up to Darragh Fanning’s try, with the Irish province trailing 13-3.

When Fanning crossed in the second half, Heaslip was again at the heart of the score, carrying and clearing out with notable energy. Despite his man of the match performance, the 30-year-old pushed the praise elsewhere.

When we get into that 22 mode, that’s what we do,” said Heaslip at the RDS post-match.

“At times, you have to carry and sometimes you have to ruck. There was some really good rucking before that to create the quick ball, which made my job a bit easier.

“Then on that carry [for Fanning's first try], the lads that rucked over me created quick ball. Three phases of quick ball is very hard to defend and Darragh took the scores quite well.”

Jamie Heaslip receives the Man of the Match Award from Pat Maher Heaslip collects his man of the match award. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Despite his own positive individual display, Heaslip was more concerned by the collective failings from Leinster’s point of view.

Matt O’Connor’s men went in 20-11 behind at the break, and while Heaslip points out that they “re-grouped” in the second half, he says what went before that simply wasn’t good enough.

A lot of mistakes. In the first half, we didn’t get the return inside their 22, we’re very disappointed with that. I think we paid two, if not three, visits where he spent a bit of time in there, especially five metres from their line, and didn’t get any return.

“They’re things to work on, our line-out too and our scrum at times was creaking. As a pack we’ve got lots to work on because we’re coming up against a side that’s not all too dissimilar [Castres].”

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Alongside those collective disappointments, Leinster were held back by individual mistakes at crucial times, particularly in their passing and handling. Again, Heaslip was honest in addressing those errors.

Jamie Heaslip hands off Wasps struggle to get to grips with the Leinster captain. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“There were just one or two decisions around the ball focus that weren’t up to our level. At this level, and against a side with their gas, you make a mistake and they punish you. We were probably lucky they didn’t run the field once or twice more from our mistakes.”

Next weekend, Leinster travel to face Castres, who were beaten by Harlequins in London on Friday night. The Tarn-based side are struggling in the Top 14 too, but Heaslip is sure they will pose a major challenge.

The Leinster captain pinpoints No. 8 Johnnie Beattie and lock Richie Gray as key threats on Sunday at Stade Pierre Antoine.

I expect a similar type of game,” explains Heaslip. “Their pack has got some big ball carriers, especially my opposite number.

“He’s a very elusive player. You’ve got Richie as well there, who can open up his legs and get through a fair amount of work.

“He’ll be probably causing us a lot of problems around the line-out. So we expect a similar picture and, especially at home, they’re going to come out the gates hard and fast. At this level, you can’t make the mistakes because you just get punished.

“We were lucky tonight.”

Error count a concern but O’Connor pleased with Leinster’s second half

5 talking points after Leinster beat Wasps at the RDS

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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