# Allez les Bleus
Leinster show European credentials with ruthless hammering of Racing
Leo Cullen’s men scored six tries in a comprehensive performance on the road in France.

Racing 10

Leinster 42

ANYONE OFFERED A guess at which of these teams spent from 7am until after 11pm yesterday making their journey to Le Havre would surely not have even thought about suggesting Leinster.

There was no sign of fatigue after the 16-hour transit in a comprehensive performance from Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster’s side. This was a six-try display that underlines Leinster’s major credentials in Europe again this season. This bonus-point win is why they are so many people’s favourites for the title.

andrew-porter-scores-their-first-try-despite-cameron-woki Dave Winter / INPHO Andrew Porter opens the scoring for Leinster. Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

The variety of their scores in Le Havre was a joy. Andrew Porter’s maul try, Dan Sheehan’s finish of a multi-phase passage, Garry Ringrose’s first-phase effort, Josh van der Flier dotting down off a clever five-metre tap penalty, Ed Byrne barging over as Leinster pick-and-jammed, van der Flier’s second from over 20 metres out.

This Leinster team have many strings to their bow and they threatened Racing close to the ruck, as well as always having the vision and skill to pass to space wider out, or kick in behind the French side. If they’re being really self-critical, Leinster might even feel they left points out there.

They might also be frustrated not to have kept Racing tryless, with Christian Wade bagging a late consolation score, but their efforts without the ball were strong and their scrum and lineout showed up well too. They now look towards next Friday’s clash with Gloucester at the RDS with huge momentum.

The brilliant Caelan Doris was a deserved player of the match with yet another complete performance from the number eight jersey, while the likes of Sheehan, Porter, and James Ryan were also excellent up front. The Leinster pack looks balanced with Ryan Baird at number six and Jason Jenkins on board in the second row.

Captain Garry Ringrose and James Lowe were influential in the backline – the latter adds so much with his power and roaming work-rate – while Jamison Gibson-Park and Charlie Ngatai had some vital touches.

No Johnny Sexton? No Tadhg Furlong? No problem. 

Racing were very disappointing, with their discipline a huge issue. They had a yellow card in each half and Leinster took full advantage of those shortcomings in this ruthless win. Laurent Labit’s men have been humming along nicely in the Top 14 but this was a wake-up call as to what the best teams look like.  

james-lowe-breaks-from-finn-russell Dave Winter / INPHO James Lowe makes a big break before Garry Ringrose's try. Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

On a fresh winter’s day at the impressive Stade Océane, it was a dream start for Leinster as Racing gave up three penalties inside the opening three minutes – high tackle, jumping across the lineout, not rolling away – and the visitors took full advantage from a five-metre maul on the right as Porter blasted over from a shift drive for a fourth-minute try.

The Top 14 side continued to be blighted by discipline issues in a first half that saw them give up nine penalties, but their defence muscled up after the early try as they got success from their counter-rucking efforts and forced a few errors from the Leinster attack.

Finn Russell got them on the scoreboard with 25 minutes gone as he nailed a penalty but Leinster dominated the rest of the half to leave themselves in total control at the break.

Referee Luke Pearce’s patience ran out after half an hour as he sin-binned Racing hooker Camille Chat for a maul infringement.

Leinster soon took advantage as a cohesive multi-phase attack saw Sheehan carry strongly before Lowe made a half-break running short off the arcing Gibson-Park to bring Leinster within a few metres. With Eddy Ben Arous down injured and Racing down to 13 men very briefly, Gibson-Park then floated a clever pass wide right for Sheehan to finish past Russell. Out-half Ross Byrne nailed the touchline conversion.

dan-sheehan-holds-off-finn-russell-to-score-the-second-try Dave Winter / INPHO Dan Sheehan crosses in the right corner. Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

The third Leinster try was the pick of the bunch as a slick lineout strike from the left-hand side went through Sheehan, Gibson-Park, Charlie Ngatai, and Byrne’s hands to send Lowe breaking outside Russell. After scorching into the Racing 22 and attracting four defenders to him, Lowe’s clever overhead basketball offload back inside allowed Ringrose to finish a wonderful first-phase score. 

Byrne added the extras for 21-3 and Leinster held that lead into the break partly thanks to a brilliant track-back tackle by Porter on Racing scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec after the hosts made a late break.

The French side threatened in the opening 10 minutes of the second half too, a clever 50:22 kick from Juan Imhoff giving them territory but Leinster withstood the sustained pressure as Sheehan won a turnover, their maul fronted up, and there was also some powerful tryline defence to hold Racing out.

With Racing’s discipline slipping again, Leinster were soon down the other end and Lowe went close to finishing in the left corner only to be forced over the touchline.

A second yellow card soon arrived for Racing as Le Garrec was binned for a deliberate knock-on with opportunity beckoning for Leinster in the same left corner, and the fourth Leinster try arrived immediately after.

This time, they used a clever five-metre tap penalty routine. Sheehan tapped and passed Doris, who swivelled to drop a pass straight out the back to the disguised run of van der Flier, with the openside flanker barging at the line and stretching out to dot down.

ryan-baird Dave Winter / INPHO The influential Caelan Doris was player of the match. Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

Racing were reeling by now and with 10 minutes to go and Le Garrec still in the sin bin, replacement loosehead prop Byrne surged over for Leinster’s fifth at the end of a dynamic passage of carries close into the ruck. 

The French outfit did finally get over the tryline in the closing stages as Russell broke and freed wing Wade to score.

Burt Leinster finished on top as van der Flier sauntered through a huge hole in the Racing defence for his second, Harry Byrne converting after replacing his brother a few minutes before.

Leinster have sent out a message to the rest of Europe.

Racing scorers:

Tries: Christian Wade

Conversions: Finn Russell [1 from 1]

Penalties: Finn Russell [1 from 1]

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier, Ed Byrne

Conversions: Ross Byrne [4 from 4], Harry Byrne [2 from 2]

RACING 92: Max Spring (Antoine Gibert ’76); Christian Wade, Francis Saili (Olivier Klemenczak ’63), Gaël Fickou (captain), Juan Imhoff; Finn Russell, Nolann Le Garrec (yellow card ’62); Eddy Ben Arous (Hassane Kolingar ’44), Camille Chat (yellow card ’30) (Janick Tarrit ’54), Cedate Gomes Sa (Trevor Nyakane ’44); Cameron Woki (Boris Palu ’72), Fabien Sanconnie (Anton Bresler ’65); Wenceslas Lauret (Baptiste Chouzenoux ’42), Ibrahim Diallo, Maxime Baudonne (Janick Tarrit ’36 to ’40).

LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Jimmy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose (captain), Charlie Ngatai (Jamie Osborne ’71), James Lowe; Ross Byrne (Harry Byrne ’69), Jamison Gibson-Park (Luke McGrath ’64); Andrew Porter (Ed Byrne ’64), Dan Sheehan (Rónan Kelleher ’64), Michael Ala’alatoa (Cian Healy ’64); James Ryan (Jack Conan ’65), Jason Jenkins (Ross Molony ’54); Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Referee: Luke Pearce [RFU].

Attendance: 14,135.

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