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Fine margins in attack and defence play on Larmour's mind

But the 21-year-old is desperate to absorb the lessons in defeat and finish the season on a high with Leinster.

JORDAN LARMOUR HAS tried to move on, but the fine margins — both in attack and defence — are occupying his mind this week. He had already re-watched the defeat to Saracens twice before Leinster’s team review took place on Monday afternoon. 

There were two moments, in particular, that colour is own performance, both coming in the first half, one with the ball, the other without it. He has not been afraid to relive the frustration, in the hope that looking back will help him move forward. 

Jordan Larmour chips down the wing Larmour makes a break against Saracens. Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

In the first half, under St James’ Park’s Milburn Stand, Larmour found a rare pocket of space to escape the stranglehold the Saracens defence had applied on Leinster from the off. He chipped the ball down the sideline, with green grass to run into, only for the bouncing ball to come off his hand as he tried to regather it. 

“When I was going after the ball, it bounced up a little bit,” he recalls. “I was in between kicking it and catching it. I went to pick it up, it was sort of at my knee height, then it just tipped my hand and went forward.

“Like I said, it’s small margins. That ball bounces up into my hand and then I’m under the sticks. Those little moments win or lose you games. Like if the ball bounces up, it could be seven points.”

The what if moments. While acknowledging Saracens were fully deserving of their win and a third Champions Cup title, there were many for Leinster, and this week will have been about discovering why they buckled under that exacting pressure at critical times. 

For Larmour, he looks back on Sean Maitland’s pivotal try on the stroke of half-time with a sense of regret. 

Leinster, 10-3 up at that juncture, had opted against kicking the ball dead for half-time and instead conceded a silly penalty just inside the Saracens half, allowing Owen Farrell launch a booming touch-finder deep into blue territory for one final siege on the line.

From there, Mark McCall’s side struck through Maitland, with Larmour shooting up off the line in an attempt to take man and ball but his failure to hit Farrell in time meant the Saracens winger could run it home uncontested. 

“Looking back on it, I probably could have got out to Maitland and not gone for Owen Farrell but they’re the decisions you live by,” the 21-year-old admits. “In that moment in time, I backed myself to get him [Farrell] and obviously it didn’t happen, but it’s the small margins.  

“I thought I went alright [overall], did a few things well, could have done a few things better as always. When you lose the big games you’re probably never really happy with your performance so there were a lot of things I could have done better. That’s just the way of it, you just have to look back on it and take the learnings.”

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After the highs of a near-perfect first season at club and international level, this year has been a learning curve for Larmour, with the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat coming off the back of a difficult Six Nations for Ireland. 

Jordan Larmour The Ireland winger speaking to media this week. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Yeah, it is tough,” he continues. “Last season was incredible and this season we set out our goals, we said we wanted to be European champions and obviously we fell a bit short, but there’s still a massive game this weekend against Munster.

“It’s tough as it’s always playing up at the back of your mind, but I find going back through the game helps. Sit down with the coaches and go through your own game and pick out parts you can improve on. It kind of helps you get over it.” 

At least there’s no time to wallow, with the small matter of a Pro14 semi-final against Munster now central to Leinster’s thoughts. Absorb the lessons, learn from them, and move on.

“It’s about taking the learnings from it and moving on because there’s a massive game this weekend in front of a sold-out RDS,” Larmour adds.

We want to defend our Pro14 title and give something back to the supporters, because they were incredible on Saturday. It’s bitterly disappointing but we can’t dwell on it, take the learning and kick on this week.

“The support all year has been incredible. A sold-out RDS, it doesn’t get much better than that, especially when the place gets going. As always with Munster-Leinster games, it’s always pretty hostile, pretty physical and we expect nothing less this week. Just looking forward to it now.

“We’re just thinking about defending our Pro14 title and finishing the season on a high, because obviously this is a big low. We’re looking forward to it, we want to give the support something to cheer about.”

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Ryan Bailey

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