Last Saturday was the biggest game of the season so far. This derby match has traditionally been the first match where we see a big step up in terms of intensity and performance. This game was by no means a classic, unlike some of the last decade’s brilliant matches. Despite this it’s always important to have form going into the European competition and of course it’s brilliant to win one over your rivals!
I think for me the most evident difference was that Leinster appeared far more dangerous with ball in hand. I thought that every time that Leinster spread the ball through the hands, they were able to find space or a soft shoulder to make ground. I thought Sexton managed the game well and along with his midfield partners, they constantly looked a threat.
In comparison I thought that Munster looked one-dimensional and predictable. They seemed to rely a lot on Murray’s box kicks and didn’t play too much with ball in hand. I don’t know if this was due to Leinster’s aggressive defending, but they never really looked like scoring from a line break. Despite this, Munster looked extremely solid in their mauls and Leinster will have to try and quickly fix this before next week. Despite the scoreline at the end I believe if Munster had been a bit more patient when they got pinged with the double-movement, the game could have been a lot closer.
Another great outcome from the game was to finally see Henshaw wear the blue jersey. And what was even more impressive was the fact he managed to last 80 minutes despite not playing since last May. It was also promising to see how he covered full back in the final few minutes, which could give Leinster options for lineups before and during the game.
The main positive for both teams is that this is a perfect warm-up match before they both tackle French teams next weekend. I think Munster can take heart that the things they did wrong in this game are easy to fix, but Racing still look a bridge too far. Leinster, I feel if they can maintain the same intensity in attack and defence may well start righting the wrongs of last year’s European season.