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Larmour puts his hand up for Marseille as La Rochelle receive Skelton boost

The fullback was in electrifying form as the province stormed to a 35-25 win over Munster on Saturday.

Jordan Larmour was outstanding against Munster.
Jordan Larmour was outstanding against Munster.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

IS AN ELECTRIFYING 80-minute performance against Munster enough to put yourself in the mix for a Heineken Champions Cup final? Jordan Larmour will certainly hope so.

The 24-year-old has endured a deeply frustrating couple of seasons but marked his latest return from injury in some style with an eye-catching performance as Leinster powered to a 35-25 win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening, a game which closed out the final round of fixtures in the United Rugby Championship’s regular season.

Leinster will now host Glasgow Warriors in the URC quarter-finals while Munster travel to play Ulster.

Larmour finished an entertaining game with 11 defenders beaten and two clean breaks to his name, along with making 108 meters with ball in hand, but the stats only tell half the story. Few players can match Larmour’s ability to weave his way out of tight situations, and his smart footwork played a key role in two of Leinster’s four tries on the night.

It was a remarkable display given Larmour’s last apperance in blue came all the way back at the beginning of March.

Will his next come in Marseille on Saturday? Leinster head coach Leo Cullen admitted it will be difficult to ignore Larmour’s performance as the province turn their attention to the Heineken Champions Cup final meeting with La Rochelle.

“It was great for him, and very, very pleasing,” Cullen said.

“That’s what we said about guys timing their run at this time of the year. So yeah, there’s plenty for us to think about for sure.”

jordan-larmour-is-presented-with-the-united-rugby-championship-player-of-the-match-medal Larmour was Player of the Match against Munster. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Larmour’s encouraging display could prove timely as Cullen may have room to change up his matchday squad for Marseille. Ciarán Frawley, who wore the number 23 shirt for the Champions Cup semi-final win over Toulouse, was forced off against Munster following a head knock. Tommy O’Brien – who was number 23 for the quarter-final win against Leicester – is out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury.

“He (Frawley) had a cut on his chin as well, so he’s come through his HIA piece but he ran out of time because he was getting his chin stitched,” Cullen explained. “That was the decision that was made there, but he’s come through his HIA already.”

While Leinster had nothing tangible to play for last night – their status as top seeds already guaranteed – Larmour wasn’t the only player to step up against Munster.

Ryan Baird, back in the team for the first time since February, carried hard and was the province’s top tackler (19), Joe McCarthy got through a huge amount of work and Harry Byrne kicked 13 points and pulled the strings well as Leinster delivered an impressive performance against a far more experienced Munster team.

“Right from the start Ryan Baird goes up, gets a hand on it, we get the ball down and it leads to a score inside the first couple of minutes of the game,” Cullen said.

Lots of really good stuff. Munster had their moments as well. One of the most pleasing parts is probably the start of the second half, Munster get that try, the ball goes up in the air and they get the bounce and it was a little bit of fortune, obviously they take the try.

“But the composure of our guys, particularly with some young guys, would they get themselves back into the game? But to be fair, they get a fair bit of control back into the game and produce plenty of moments. The penalty try leads to a yellow card for them and suddenly we’re in the ascendancy, guys coming off the bench made decent impacts as well, so plenty of good stuff I have to say, which is great.”

Now it’s all eyes on that Champions Cup date with La Rochelle, and the French side have their own selection decisions to weigh up after Will Skelton returned from injury in their Top 14 win over Stade Francais yesterday.

will-skelton-dejected Will Skelton came off the bench for La Rochelle on Saturday. (file photo) Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Skelton had been expected to miss the rest of the season with a calf injury but came off the bench for the final 14 minutes as Ronan O’Gara’s team recorded an important 32-13 win over Stade to boost their Top 14 play-off hopes. 

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The powerful second row has tormented Leinster in the past, playing a key role in La Rochelle’s semi-final win over the province last year and also starring for Saracens in the 2019 Champions Cup final.

A massive week lies ahead.

For Munster, their attention now turns to a URC quarter-final trip to Belfast. Johann van Graan described their latest defeat to Leinster as “incredibly disappointing“. His team went into the game knowing a bonus-point win would see them finish second in the table, while victory of any shape would secure a home quarter-final.

“We came here to win. That’s the disappointing thing about tonight,” Van Graan said. 

“We gave it our best shot, with what we had to do in the last few minutes to get two (losing bonus) points, but we weren’t good enough to get them.

“Look, they are currently in the European final, they ended first in the URC (league table), so I wouldn’t say it’s anything mental. I think every team in Europe and South Africa are trying to figure out how you beat them, and you’ve also got to give credit.

“Speaking to Leo afterwards, some guys came back, Jordan (Larmour) was excellent at 15, Ryan Baird… They’ve got quality players in their squad and you’ve got to give it to them. Well done.”

Get instant updates on your province on The42 app. With Laya Healthcare, official health and wellbeing partner to Leinster, Munster and Connacht Rugby. 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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