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Leinster 42 Lyon 14
The result will be satisfactory, the performance less so, as Leinster recorded a fifth straight Heineken Champions Cup victory in this season’s tournament, scoring six tries in the process and maintaining their quest to be top seeds going into the final round of pool fixtures next weekend.
It was a fitful display for the most part in front of 18,138 supporters on a perfect afternoon weather wise at the RDS, individual excellence glossing over periods of sloppiness in terms of the team dynamic, with some passive defence and questionable decision-making in attack, particularly in the opposition 22.
Lyon, a team that arrived without a host of first-choice players, lost three players to yellow cards during the match, yet still managed to score a couple of tries and only really disappeared when running out of energy in the final quarter. Their spirit in defence deserves credit, but if Leinster had been sharper then the disparity in quality between the teams would have been reflected on the scoreboard.
The satisfaction for Leinster head coach Leo Cullen will centre on some excellent individual displays, Max Deegan, thoroughly deserving of his man-of-the-match accolade. He was outstanding, while Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney (two tries), Ross Byrne and Rhys Ruddock were others who sparkled in the winter sunshine.
Luke McGrath was lively, so too Tadhg Furlong while the bench allowed Leinster to raise the tempo that yielded a couple of late tries.
Leinster had two tries chalked off in the first half, both at the behest of the television match official Ian Davies. The first came when Luke McGrath was correctly adjudged to have strayed in front of Dave Kearney’s beautifully weighted chip; the second when there was an alleged knock-on in the build-up to Scott Fardy’s effort, less obvious, and with the suspicion that it had gone forward off a Lyon player.
The home side will be disappointed that they weren’t more precise and ruthless in finishing off some excellent approach play and that there was a soft underbelly to aspects of their defence that allowed a gutsy Lyon side to trail by just seven points at the interval. Leinster’s individual excellence wasn’t matched by collective cohe
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