Johne Murphy: Leinster’s competition at the breakdown was key to Connacht victory
Leinster clock up 607 metres from 69 carries in 21-18 victory over Connacht.20:26 Monday 1 January 2018, 20:26 1 Jan 2018
Former Munster player Johne Murphy says Leinster’s defense and ability to compete at the breakdown was key to their victory over Connacht at RDS on New Year's Day.
Leinster ran in two tries, either side of the break for a 21-18 win over the Galway-based side.
Leo Cullen kept just two of the players from the province’s win over Munster on St. Stephen’s day in the starting side, while Connacht coach Kieran Keane made three changes to the team that beat Munster on Christmas Eve.
Kieran Keane’s side went in to the break with a 13-11 lead, but it wasn’t enough as Leinster’s defensive resolve was the telling factor, coupled with their superior dominance at the breakdown.
Leinster clocked up an impressive 607 metres from 69 carries, with tries from Jack McGrath and Max Deegan.
Speaking on this evening's Off The Ball, Murphy praised Leinster's resolve, in particular in the closing stages as Connacht went through phase after phase.
"Leinster’s defence, and their competition at the breakdown was incredible throughout the game," Murphy stated. "Towards the end, you watch the amount of second guys in for those 28 phases [Connacht went through], they were absolute pests at the breakdown. When you're trying to create quick ball and you're trying to get the ball moving, it's so hard to do when guys are completely upsetting everything. It was incredible to watch."
The game was setup for a grandstand finish after Connacht put together a run of phases in the dying moments of the game, but they failed to break the line as the Leinster side hurled their bodies at the on-coming Connacht pack.
Murphy state however that there were plenty of positives for a side that were clearly still implementing some of the changes that their new coach wanted to see.
"They play a different system to when they won the Pro 12," Murphy explained. "They do look comfortable in the wider channels, which is probably a follow on from the legacy that Pat Lam left, but some of the offloading from both sides was incredible, and that's probably an added extra that Keane has brought in.
"It's not about phases, it's about trying to keep the ball alive without running into rucks. That's probably where they're trying to get to, and it definitely showed towards the end."
Leinster held on to their slender advantage, claiming a 21-18 win and their tenth victory of the season.
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