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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 26 April, 2019

Cannonball Cronin and more talking points after Leinster put 50 on Castres

The hooker scored arguably the try of the night as Leinster took the driver’s seat in Pool 2.

Updated 21.45

1. Start as you mean to go on

AS A COLLECTIVE, Leinster showed real intent right from the first whistle at the RDS tonight.

An early scrum saw Marty Moore demolish the visitors front row and with Castres back peddling, Leinster looked wide early and moved the ball quickly across to Dave Kearney. He was forced inside, but the ethos was the right one.

The wing must have been sharp in training this week as he was picked as the strike runner on the very next play as well, Ian Madigan hitting him with a reverse pass after a line-out and Kearney blazed a trail to the try-line.

Even before the excellent set move that yielded Dave Kearney’s try, there was the move that put them there.

2. Cannonball Cronin

You could almost forgive Castres. Even after Rob Kearney and Devin Toner had stretched their defence and made ground to the edge of the 22, you can see why they thought they were well set when a hooker popped up at first receiver.

Sean Cronin scores a try Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

However, they clearly haven’t seen Sean Cronin at full tilt very often. The hooker acted like an expert winger, even slowing down a little to fix the tackler before stepping and burning on past on the angle.

There’s no doubt that Cronin can offer a little something different in either a Leinster or Irish front row and if he keeps showing just how different he can be then Joe Schmidt might be tempted to hand him the number two jersey.

3. The middle ground

With Munster and Ulster falling to defeat this afternoon, it falls to the representatives from the east and west to fly the flag for Irish provinces in Europe.

While Pat Lam’s men don’t host Exeter until tomorrow, Leinster’s bonus point win over leaves them on 18 points and in full control of their own destiny going in to the final round of games. 

4. Too much of a good thing

When Marius Mitrea went upstairs to the TMO for help with Marcel Garvey’s would-be try, he asked “is there any reason a try can not be given”. The TMO searched and searched and, by the time he came back a non-existent double movement had been conjured from thin air.

In the second half, Mitrea was standing a metre away as Richie Gray lifted Fergus McFadden by the jersey and shook him like a rag doll. Credit to him for allowing play to continue, but again he deferred to the all powerful TMO who passed no judgement.

Marius Mitrea shows Ibrahim Diarra a yellow card No danger of getting that one wrong. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The TMO is a tool that is currently being poorly used across the board in rugby. Too often, the review takes an age to make a decision. We can live with that – we’d moan about it, but we’d live – but after all that to get the call wrong makes the TMO a quirky sideshow rather than the enhancement to the game that it once was.

5. Finishing strong

For O’Connor, the only thing more satisfying than the start was how his side finished. With replacements rolling on from the 51st minute, Leinster kept their foot on the throat of the opposition.

Darragh Fanning scores a try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

They went in to this fixture trailing Harlequins by a 23-point differential, but after seven tries and 50 points, they now set the pace in Pool 2. And with ‘Quins slipping to a 3 – 23 defeat to Wasps, the visitors in Coventry well and truly hold their destiny in their own hands.

No matter how poor the opponent was, that’s a decent day’s work.

Originally published 20.00

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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