4 talking points after Leinster see off Connacht at the RDS

Noel Reid’s class, power from Aki and Douglas, Connacht’s losing start and no festive fireworks.

OUR MATCH REPORT on Leinster’s 21-11 victory at the RDS can be found here.

No festive fireworks

Jamie Heaslip tackles Jack Carty Jack Carty attempts to brush off the tackle of Jamie Heaslip. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LEINSTER WERE BUSINESS-like in getting the four points this evening, going over for their first-half maul try in relentless fashion, allowing Jimmy Gopperth to kick his penalties and then quashing Connacht’s hint of a comeback with Zane Kirchner’s try.

Lam’s men never got into any sort of attacking flow, even if Jack Carty made one clean linebreak and Kieran Marmion threatened around the fringes, as ever.

Indeed, as a spectacle this Ian Davies-refereed encounter never truly enthralled, despite many encouraging individual displays. Scrum delays didn’t help the flow, but Matt O’Connor is unlikely to be too put out as his side secured the win.

Noel Reid shows class

Noel Reid makes a break Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ian Madigan had the evening off due to ankle and shoulder niggles, meaning a start for Noel Reid outside Jimmy Gopperth. The former St. Michael’s back was a creative presence throughout for the home side at the RDS.

One scything first-half linebreak after some sharp footwork brought him inside Robbie Henshaw and through Kieran Marmion was the highlight, while a beautifully-floated long left-handed pass stood out too.

There was confidence in his defensive work, as Reid went low and completed his tackles effectively. His kicking in the second half was impressive too, with one deft dink over the defence on the left and a raking grubber to find touch on the right.

The 24-year-old will now hope to be centrally involved as Leinster look to continue their gradual arc of improvement in attack.

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Connacht’s fortnight off to losing start

Connacht team huddle before the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Connacht themselves have underlined the importance of the coming fortnight to their stated goal of a top-six league finish, and clashes with Leinster, Ulster and Munster provide the opportunity to underline their progress.

It’s not an ideal start, even if a first-ever win away at the RDS would have been their best result of the season, but things are unlikely to get much easier away to Ulster on 26 December and at home to Munster on 1 January.

The prospect of losing again in Kingspan Stadium won’t be entertained, but the westerners may have to wait until their home clash with Munster for their best chance of an inter-pro win over the festive period.

Douglas and Aki turn up the power

Jamie Heaslip tackled by Bundee Aki Aki gets in a smashing hit on Jamie Heaslip. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster have been waiting for Kane Douglas to hit the type of form that he was in for the Waratahs’ run to the Super Rugby title earlier this year, while Bundee Aki has been adapting to life in Ireland with Connacht.

Both foreign imports gave more obvious demonstrations of their ability at the RDS tonight, particularly in a physical sense. Some of Douglas’ tackling and rucking was violent, while he intimidated around the breakdown and off the ball.

Similarly, the aggressive Aki was dynamic whenever he hit a Leinster ball carrier and carried explosively with limited opportunity to do so. Lam and O’Connor will hope the settling-in period is over for both players and that these powerful performances now become the norm.

LIVE: Leinster vs Connacht, Guinness Pro12

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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