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'I thought I was in!' - Larmour continuing to learn as he shows off dancing feet

The 21-year-old benefitted from 80 minutes at fullback in the absence of Rob Kearney.

JORDAN LARMOUR’S AFTERNOON couldn’t have started much better as he fired a beautifully-weighted kick deep into the French backfield, forcing Damien Penaud to nudge the ball into touch.

Two Irish lineouts later, captain Rory Best was over for Ireland’s opening try in just the third minute.

21-year-old Larmour, who was a late inclusion in Ireland’s starting team after Rob Kearney was forced out with calf tightness, took advantage of some poor backfield work from France to deliver his delightful kick.

Johnny Sexton receives a kick from France fullback Thomas Ramos and passes infield to Larmour [white below] who looks up to note major space in the French backfield.

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Ramos [yellow] has had to chase up his own kick, while right wing Penaud [pink] is high on the edge of the defence.

Despite Ramos chasing his kick, neither Louis Picamoles [blue] nor Romain Ntamack [red] in the backfield shift across to cover the vacated space, while the sweeping Antoine Dupont [green] is only moving across late.

Larmour calibrates and releases an excellent kick, finding grass and chasing hard with Jacob Stockdale to force Penaud to seek the safety of the touchline.

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“Maybe last season, I would have taken that and tried to have crack [with ball in hand] but I saw there was space back there and the smart thing to do was put the ball down there, put pressure on them,” said Larmour post-match.

“It was early on in the game, good field position. It comes with learning – the more experience you get, the better a player you become.”

Minutes later, Larmour was called on defensively for the first time as the French hung a cross-field garryowen over him for Penaud to contest.

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Penaud gets up ahead of Larmour, who leaves himself too far underneath the ball and unable to get a good jumping line up into the contest.

Fortunately for Larmour, Penaud knocks the ball forward, although it takes a TMO review before Ben O’Keeffe confirms as much after the French have dotted down a possible try.

“I saw it went through his hands, I saw him touch it, so that’s probably why I kinda stopped but that’s probably a good lesson there – don’t stop and just keep going until you hear the whistle,” said Larmour.

“He got a good entry into the ball and I was kinda on the back foot.”

Speaking about the areas in which he is still learning, Larmour referenced “a few positional things” and this incident may well have been on his mind.

The 12-times capped Leinster back’s next involvement saw him throw a loose inside pass that ended up on the ground, forcing Cian Healy to scramble and gather it in.

Larmour almost had the chance to put Stockdale away for a 16th-minute try, only for Penaud [white below] to make a decisive defensive intervention in closing up hard on the edge to shut it down.

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Larmour instead stepped back inside and was stripped of the ball by Dupont.

Again, he pointed to this error post-match in stating that he has to concentrate on “a few simple things like ball focus – I lost the ball on their tryline, so I’m always building, learning and trying to get better.”

Larmour delivered an accurate pass to Keith Earls on kick return attack in the 19th minute, then completed a strong tackle on Ramos in the 25th, soon before a direct carry off Sexton in the French 22.

His first demonstration of the quality of his footwork came on another kick return attack as Stockdale threw him a quick lineout and he beat Guilhem Guirado and Felix Lambey.

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Larmour didn’t touch the ball for Sexton’s first-half try, but his work off the ball was absolutely crucial.

Sexton hits Garry Ringrose and sets off on that familiar loop line around the centre. 

Outside Ringrose, Larmour runs a superb straightening line [yellow below] to invite Yoann Huget [red] to bite in him.

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Huget takes the bait, with Larmour being a viable option to receive the ball from Ringrose after timing his run perfectly, and Ringrose instead releases the ball back to Sexton to arc outside Huget and score.

Another tackle and one more pass to Stockdale brought Larmour to half-time.

He was fielding a French exiting box kick within the first minute of the second 40 minutes getting underway, passing infield and then chasing Sexton’s garryowen to tackle Dupont.

Larmour and Stockdale will have been disappointed not to gather a Ntamack bomb in the 47th minute, neither of them dominating the situation and Stockdale knocking-on.

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Larmour had another strong off-the-ball running line in the 51st minute, helping to buy Earls time for a clever kick in behind the French.

The fullback’s timing on a lineout starter play was exemplary – something Kearney excels at – as he occupied the French midfield with his direct run [yellow below].

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There was more evidence of Larmour’s ability to stay on his feet when presented with defenders in the 60th minute as he danced away from Mathieu Bastareaud, Gregory Alldritt and Yoann Huget to fire a pass to CJ Stander.

Larmour hitched out of a Picamoles tackle soon after, with another pass delivered to Stockdale on kick return in the 70th minute.

His next involvement was a direct carry near the halfway line, before his searing linebreak in the 71st minute.

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“I thought I was in!” said Larmour with a smile.

“I saw the cover coming across so I thought I’d step back and then someone was there, so I probably should have just stepped one way and put the head down. Earlsy was outside on the wing, so I could have maybe got the ball away to him.”

Unfortunately for Larmour and Ireland, his jinking run left him isolated in this instance, with France able to secure a turnover penalty.

All in all, this unexpected start for Larmour allowed him to illustrate some of his thrilling quality as he continues to learn about Test rugby.

“I’m delighted with how it went but there are always things to work on, I’m still learning and trying to get better.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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