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OFFICIAL Buildup Thread - Leinster vs Stade Rochelais Champions Cup Final 28/05/2022

  • 26-05-2022 9:47am
    Registered Users Posts: 5,823 ✭✭✭Former Former Former

    Hi, I'm Troy McClure, you might remember me from such buildup threads as "Toulouse are going to pulverise Leinster at the scrum" and "There's no way Munster will lose to the Leinster third string, is there?". Now join me in my most thrilling buildup thread yet as we ask "Are Leinster going to get bullied off the park again?"

    I was listening to OTB last night and Joe Molloy was asking the question, have Leinster really been tested in Europe this year? The pool stage was a bit of a mess, Leicester were game but very limited and Toulouse were totally outclassed. The question was the old Mike Tyson line, do Leinster have a plan until they get punched in the face? Are La Rochelle the team to punch them in the face?

    Honestly, unless LAR have been holding back in anticipation of this match, I don't see it. The semi-final against Racing wouldn't inspire a huge amount of confidence. Lots of talk about Will Skelton, how much time he'll be able to put in, but for me the loss of Victor Vito already negates that. It looks like Brice Dulin will be back which is a big plus for them, and the miracle hurling glove might allow Kerr-Barlow to play. My guess is that if TKB is even 50%, he'll start.

    But LAR do have genuine quality throughout; Danty, West, Leyds, Sinzelle, Alldritt, Liebenberg - these guys are a very good team and ROG, despite his public utterings, will have them hyped up to the max.

    The biggest swing in LAR's favour will be if Furlong cannot play, or can only get through a limited amount of time. Michael Alaalatoa stepped in very well against Toulouse but he's not Furlong. Indications for Furlong are good, but not so much about James Lowe. Lowe is only a winger but his appetite for coming infield and looking for work is a big park of Leinster's game plan. If he's out, Jordan Larmour will start and that's not a bad replacement to have (cf last weekend's game) but it will still be a loss.

    Otherwise, the Leinster team picks itself. Baird might oust McCarthy from the bench but otherwise expect a very similar team as started against Toulouse.

    Paddy Power has Leinster as 1/6 favourites, or -12 points on the handicap. I think that's probably fair given the respective formlines, but equally home country advantage could be a big factor here, even if La Rochelle to Marseilles is a fair trek.

    I don't expect us to have it all our own way but if Leinster can get a rhythm going, I don't think LAR can live with our pace of the game. It's forecast to get up to 30 degrees on Saturday so this might work against the team with the big heavy guys... if we can move them around the park like we did with Toulouse and Leicester, then Leinster will win.

    And win or lose, I think it's worth noting that Sexton and Healy will be playing their SIXTH Heineken Cup final and going for their fifth winners' medals. That's an incredible achievement regardless of the outcome.



  • Registered Users Posts: 22,383 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    I'm going with the team that has Will Skelton in it

  • Registered Users Posts: 882 ✭✭✭Lsdrugbyfan

    On form there should only be one winner, but that means nothing in a final. Here's hoping.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,919 ✭✭✭SaoPaulo41

    Any updates on the injuries?

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 14,084 Mod ✭✭✭✭pc7

    Really feel on paper it should be us, but the heat, a card here or there, pressure (for tyres!), who the hell knows. I just cannot bloody wait, but I'm going for a Leinster win, I think while LAR may have physicality edge with JS on the pitch we've more up top if things need a change.

  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭letsbefair

    Wayne Barns won’t let them slow it down illegally and is quick to yellow card any messing. Could be a factor

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  • Registered Users Posts: 24,745 ✭✭✭✭molloyjh

    This game is interesting to say the least. Leinsters squad is shaping up to be better than it was last year. Porter in for Healy, Molony in for Toner and Doris in for Ruddock who was injured after 20-25 mins are all upgrades, especially given what it allows for on the bench too. But it’s at half back is where the real difference is. JGP and Sexton ahead of McGrath and Ross Byrne, which then pushes the latter 2 on to the bench in place of Osbourne and Frawley who were there last year. That’s a big difference straight away.

    If Furlong and Lowe are fit then we’ll have a noticeably better 23 playing better rugby going into this game. And that alone could be worth the 9 point differential from last season. Throw in on top of that question marks over the availability and/or match fitness of some of LARs bigger names (Skelton, Vito, TKB and Dulin) and I think the scales start to tip in our favour.

    How West goes off the tee could be another big factor. We saw in the SF how poor his kicking can be, but he was 100% off the tee against us last year. Whichever West we get on Saturday could be a 10 point swing one way or the other give or take.

    But LAR also have the tools to cause us more trouble than most. They are incredibly competitive at the breakdown and we rely on quick ruck ball. If any team can disrupt that or turn it against us via turnovers it’s LAR. Their physicality has gotten all of the attention but for me it’s their work at the breakdown that’s the greatest threat.

    Then we have the weather. Playing high speed running in 30 degrees is going to be tough. They’re bigger so may suffer more for it, but they’re also more used to it than we are. Who that hits most and earliest could be a massive factor.

    I’d usually say it’ll be interesting to see the teams named but given everything I’d be inclined to take both announcements with a pinch of salt. Leinster may name guys in hope before needing to switch them out and we’ve seen LAR last week add Skelton last minute. We’ll only really know the teams once they take the field. But Leinster have a great shot here if they can manage the breakdown well enough. The idea they haven’t been tested is mad too me. Most of them played in Paris this year. Hopefully that too stands to them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,558 ✭✭✭arsebiscuits1

    A question I keep coming to in my head is are both these teams at this point in time better than they were last season.

    In La Rochelles case I think they are a formidable side but not on the level they were last season.

    Leinster at times I felt had borderline fallen off a cliff in terms of form compared to last year but since the 6 nations that opinion has shifted and they appear to be peaking at the right time and the whole squad seems to be in sync with little drop off in accuracy and intensity from 2 squads 2 weeks in a row.

    Last year was unquestionably an off day with an unfortunately weakened squad which undoubtedly compounded issues.

    We didn't have Sexton or JGP that day with Frawley covering 10 from the bench (whatever about calls to move him back to 10 now - 12 months ago he was very much not at the forefront of Leinsters mind as a 10) and Rowan Osborne covering 9. Thin on top level quality and cover in the half backs.

    Doris was missing for this also and Ruddock got injured within 20 minutes having to be replaced by Baird who by his own standards did not fit the bill. Even now the jury is still out about how well he can thrive in tight power based games and last year showed the deficit.

    Toner started this one and while he offers a lot of things. Carrying is not one of them. When you're missing Doris and Rhys so early, this was a disadvantage.

    This season we have an upgrade in numerous positions with our squad looking as healthy as it could be given this point of the season.

    I'm confident about this one.

    Also - can we put to bed early this "complacency" nonsense? Perhaps some fans and section of the media are. But Leinster as a squad are most definitely not. They're hurting from last year. They have won nothing yet. A good chunk of the team have never won the title. They are ostensibly hungrier than ever and if we lose on Saturday it will not be due to complacency and I don't feel like calling out these lazy takes for the next 12 months!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,558 ✭✭✭arsebiscuits1

    2021 side vs (likely) 2022 side (stronger option in bold)

    Healy v Porter - Both having scrum issues against bigger packs. Porter the stronger all round option

    Kelleher v Kelleher - draw. Ronan has being remarkably consistent this past 12 months. Arguably a shade stronger last year with a longer run of fitness

    Furlong v Furlong - Tadgh was in sensational form last year where as there is questions over his fitness this year

    Toner v Molony - Molony in the form of his life. Offers much more around the park as well as a strong lineout

    Ryan v Ryan - draw. Ryan always delivers

    Ruddock v Doris - Draw. Doris handling and discipline has let him down and Rhys is built for these games

    VDF v VDF - Josh model 2022 has hit a new stratosphere in form this season even comparing his amazing year last year

    Conan v Conan - Conan model 2021 was the premier 8 in Europe. He's had a great season. But last year was special

    McGrath v JGP - JGP in supreme form

    Byrne v Sexton - No contest

    Lowe v Lowe - draw. This season Lowe is much better. But fitness still a question

    Henshaw v Henshaw - Robbie probably had a stronger season last year

    Ringrose v Ringrose - Draw. Mr Consistency. Constantly delivers for us

    Larmour v JOB - JOB. Hot take potentially but Jimmys lack of prowess in attack compared to Larmour is made up for with more solidity on the other side of the ball

    Keenan v Keenan - Keenan continues his upward trajectory this year

    Tracy v Sheehan - No contest

    Byrne v Healy - Healy overall a stronger player. Even now

    Porter v Ala'alatoa - Ports takes it. I kinda miss him at TH

    Fardy v McCarthy - Fardy. Despite fading notably towards the end of his career he still offered a lot. Big Joe is talented but unknown against a team of this size

    Baird v Ruddock - Rhys takes this. Especially in the back row

    Osborne v McGrath

    Frawley v Byrne

    ROL v Larmour/ Frawley - Both a better option than ROL for me

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,084 ✭✭✭✭Clegg

    Molloyjh has posted a very comprehensive write up about this weekends fixture and his thoughts mirror my own, and a lot of Leinster fans, I think. Leinster are probably the favourites, but La Rochelle are an excellent side who are the worst match up for us to play against. Huge men that are excellent on the deck.

    Last season they took Leinster to the cleaners at the ruck. We couldn't punch through their defence and get over the gainline. What then made it worse was we couldn't then shift the poacher once the tackle was made either. They dominated the breakdown. If they didn't make turnovers, they sufficiently slowed our play down to the point where we were carrying against a set defence and getting double tackles behind the gain line.

    However, I think that game prompted a big rethink in attacking strategy, which we are seeing this season. There's more animation in the forward carrying pods and more options for the receiver to choose from for the next bit of play. They've also worked extremely hard when it comes to taking contact on their own terms. This season the forwards are using a lot of footwork pre-contact to find the best angle to make an extra foot or two beyond the tackle, they're then recycling extremely quickly and getting the ball out to the next receiver and doing the same thing again.

    Here's a good bit of analysis from the excellent EK Rugby account, giving an example of how Leinster have changed their attack this season. He uses the game against La Rochelle make his point.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,445 ✭✭✭Dubinusa

    La Rochelle are under rated imo. I reckon they're better than Toulouse. Can our scrum hold up? Will we have Furlong? Without Furlong. I think we're fucked! An arm wrestle and a set piece ( scrum) heavy match, could end our campaign.

    Alternatively, can La Rochelle stay with the pace? This to me is the key. Rapid play and changing the point of attack will eventually wear down La Rochelle.

    I thought we'd win last year. But, we were lost at times. Losing Ruddock to me was the killer shot. This time around, our team is very different. I think it will be a close match . The odds are nuts. A title match with odds like this?

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  • Subscribers Posts: 41,424 ✭✭✭✭sydthebeat

    The glaring take away from that clip is how glacial slow LMCGs passing is. in part because of LAR hassling at the breakdown, but more often its on him.

    Ruck 1: LMCG extra step before pass

    Ruck 2: LAR hassle, slow ruck, forwards have to check their runs

    Ruck 3: LMCG slow to lift off deck, JVDF over runs

    Ruck 4: needs two bites, arguably due to porters arrival, but needed to get it out quicker

    Ruck 5: decent enough pass, but slow, RB static, not a threat and shovels on to forward hit behind the line.

    also, very few inside options for LMCG in all that passage of play as well, meaning LAR easy to fan out and swing around.

    JGP will be better

  • Posts: 864 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Gwan ROG!

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,018 ✭✭✭Bridge93

    So we have doubts over the fitness and staying power of Furlong and Lowe v Kerr Barlow, Vito and Skelton?

    How they all turn out will be massively important.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,745 ✭✭✭✭molloyjh

    Apparently all same day charters for the game have been cancelled due to a lack of ground staff at Dublin airport. Also heard of at least 1 going out Sat and back Sun being cancelled for similar reasons. This game is not going to be well attended at all is it?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,211 ✭✭✭All_in_Flynn

    The more I look at this, the more I just think Leinster will win with something in hand. It will take something drastic to go wrong to deny them.

    Even without Furlong, I feel they have enough to win but it would obviously be a worry.

    There are just too many top line players playing very well. Henshaw looks like he is back at that level he was at last year. He dominated the Toulouse midfield in contact. I think he'll be a difference maker again on Saturday.

    If there is parity at scrum-time then I can't see where La Rochelle will get into the game. Leinster have evolved beyond teams being able to just run over them. In fact, it's Leinster who are winning the collisions these days against the so called bigger teams like Leicester and Toulouse. Too many difference makers playing well for Leinster and there are more worries on the injury from for La Rochelle. Hope we see a great game. Wish I was travelling over.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,355 ✭✭✭Dave_The_Sheep

    Jesus you'd be raging if you'd shelled out for various expense just for the flights to be cancelled. Farcical.

  • Registered Users Posts: 882 ✭✭✭Lsdrugbyfan

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 14,084 Mod ✭✭✭✭pc7

    We're booked on 2 day one with agent and now our flight has moved from Dublin to Shannon, absolute pain in the hoop but at least we can still go just have the hassle now of driving to Shannon and back.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 35,344 Mod ✭✭✭✭pickarooney

    Will people get refunds for match tickets if their flights are cancelled?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,156 ✭✭✭Serbian

    The next update on injuries will be the team sheet tomorrow at lunch time.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I think Leinster are going to win this weekend. But if we don't - it will be because of this opener.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,383 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    This is just Munster pulling some strings to force Leinster fans to drive to Limerick for a knockout match for once

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,804 ✭✭✭hold my beer

    Loadsa people wearing blue in the airport. Wish I was going

  • Registered Users Posts: 411 ✭✭Madeoface

    This really is leinsters to lose I think. It will take a card or something to spook them. With la rochelle needing to hit the rucks fast it's more likely they will get a card. JS too motivated to see a dip in performance by the team.

    35 - 20 to Leinster.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,473 ✭✭✭BoardsMember

    Couldn't agree more, such slow ruck ball, slow by Luke to fish it out and pass it. I'm not sure how all our new sophisticared attacking stands up to a massive team hitting us behind gainline & winning collisions repeatedly. Everyone has a plan until...

    Still the biggest threats to us this weekend - ball slowed down at ruck, and the game generally being reduced to a slow game of scrum and maul arm wrestling.

    On balance I think we'll be ok though. Having Sexton on the pitch and in such good form is massive - whenever I start to get really nervous this is what I focus on.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,527 Mod ✭✭✭✭aloooof

    Can’t see anything other than a fairly comfortable Leinster win here, by 2+ scores. Don’t see La Rochelle being able to match ye when ye hit yer stride.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,920 ✭✭✭✭stephen_n

    Problem is, last year they stopped us hitting our stride and slowed our ball down.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,527 Mod ✭✭✭✭aloooof

    I think Leinster’s attack this year is a level above last year, tho. The speed at which ye are moving the ball will make it all the more difficult for La Rochelle to slow ball.

    Some of the ruck speeds in the semi were unbelievable. Pair that with the fluidity in attack and I think a lot will have to go right for La Rochelle to come out the right side.

    Anything can happen in a final tho, and I’d be nervous if I was in yer shoes too, but hopefully ye can come out the right side of it against them this year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,558 ✭✭✭arsebiscuits1

    Our attack wasn't nearly as varied last year so they could easily read who to hit and did.

    We were down a few ball carriers too.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,920 ✭✭✭✭stephen_n

    I would say I’m fairly confident but cautiously so. I think if we click like we did against Toulouse then La Rochelle won’t live with us. I have a feeling interpretations at ruck time will have a huge factor to play though.