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'When you take a team to that kill zone from minute one, maybe that explains the result'

Leinster ran 13 tries past Montpellier as they got up and running again last weekend.

Leinster hammered Montpellier last weekend.
Leinster hammered Montpellier last weekend.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Updated Jan 19th 2022, 8:41 AM

WHILE EVERYONE ELSE has been busy slamming Montpellier for their obvious failings last weekend, Leinster are quietly content with their return to action.

Following five long weeks without a game, a spell that featured a whole lot of disruption due to positive Covid cases and close contacts being identified, a 13-try return to the RDS was pleasing.

Of course, Leinster aren’t reading too much into the scale of their victory against a miserably poor Montpellier team, but they were pleased with their own effort on the day.

“Yeah, they weren’t maybe the team you would expect them to be but at the same time, we played some very good rugby,” says assistant coach Felipe Contepomi.

“It’s easy now to say that Montpellier weren’t good enough. But we had a game where we played nearly 40 minutes of ball-in-play, where the average they play is 30 minutes or less.

“So when you take a team that’s not used to playing 40 minutes ball-in-play to that kill zone and from minute one, maybe that explains the result a bit as well. It’s not just that they weren’t good enough. We created a place where we felt more comfortable than they did.

“There were definitely loads of academy players or young players but some of those players have played in the Top 14 and they’re third in that league.”

Contepomi heaped credit on the Leinster squad for their “unbelievable” work-rate and commitment during what was a tough period for the province, who now hope to have an uninterrupted run over the coming months.

felipe-contepomi Contepomi at Leinster training this week. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

While Contepomi and co. were pleased with last weekend’s return, they will certainly be hoping for more genuine tests in their next few games as they look to answer their own questions about competing with teams who deliver highly physical game plans.

Leinster have come unstuck against Saracens and La Rochelle in Europe in recent years and Leo Cullen’s men need to be tested in a similar fashion to improve.

“You want to be exposed and the more competition and rivalry you have and the better teams you play against the better but the URC has I think gone up in terms of level,” says Contepomi.

“It’s much better, it’s a very good competition, and Europe is Europe. We are thinking a lot about how we can get better and hopefully we can prove it against the best teams on the big occasions.

“We will be upfront enough and say certain clubs or teams are playing certain ways – more kicking, more strategically, more pressure and don’t have the ball and focus everything on defence.

“We want to have a strong defence but also be an attacking team. We are trying to always get things to counteract those things. That doesn’t mean we don’t kick, that doesn’t mean we don’t pressure – we are trying to get the right balance and that’s a hard thing to do.”

This Saturday, Leinster are away to Bath in their final Champions Cup pool game with some ground to make up due to last month’s cancelled game against Montpellier in France seeing the Top 14 club awarded five match points.

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Leinster are expected to confirm their round-of-16 place in Bath but a big win will obviously help with their bid to finish as high in Pool A as possible to ensure a strong ranking for the knock-out stages.

ciaran-frawley Leinster face Bath again on Saturday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’m expecting a tough game and there are a few reasons why,” says Contepomi.

“The first one is Bath in Europe, it’s never easy, it’s a great place to go and play but more so I don’t know if you saw them play two weeks ago against Worcester. They won and what the victory meant to them at the final whistle, it showed how much the players care and how they wanted to put up a performance in front of the people.

“So you have to prepare as if to play against the toughest Bath team ever because that’s how they will probably approach it and also if you’ve seen Bath in Europe against us and against La Rochelle in the last game, they don’t give up.

“They were 39-0 down against La Rochelle [last weekend] and came back to 21 points, so 39-21.

“Against us they finished very strong and we conceded a few points, so we know what they’re capable of, especially in attack. They are a very good side with good players, a lot of history in this fixture so we’re just preparing for a tough game and hopefully we can prepare accordingly and the best we can in a short week turnaround.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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