James Ryan man of the match again as Leinster battle to satisfying win

JAMES RYAN ISN’T one for stockpiling his man-of-the-match awards, instead handing them over to his mother after his latest big performance.

Mrs. Ryan is certainly building quite the collection as her son continues to impress in what is just his second season of senior professional rugby.

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The 22-year-old second row was man of the match again for Leinster in yesterday’s 17-10 win away to Bath, a result that leaves Leo Cullen’s side well-placed to push on towards topping Pool 1 of the Heineken Champions Cup.

Ryan wins lineout ball for Leinster. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ryan was as busy as ever in the Leinster pack, leading the tackle charts with 17 and also topping the ball-carrying list with 14, as well as hammering rucks throughout and contributing to the set-piece.

While the mature lock was pleased to help his team notch a win on the road in difficult weather conditions, he underlined that Leinster can be better than they showed yesterday.

“It was ultra-physical, a lot of mauls, we had to make a lot of tackles, hit a lot of rucks – the conditions added to that,” said Ryan post-match, as the wind outside threatened to collapse the tent that serves as a media room at the Rec. “It was tough.

“There’s a lot we can get better on. In the first-half, we needed to be a bit more physical, there was too much soakage. In saying that, it’s a really tough place to come and to get a win was satisfying.”

Jordan Larmour’s intercept try naturally grabbed the headlines, but the quality of Leinster’s first try through hooker Sean Cronin shouldn’t be overlooked.

From five metres out, the Leinster pack produced a cohesive and controlled maul drive around Rhys Ruddock’s lineout catch to drive Bath back over their own tryline.

“We got into our slots pretty well, we got go-forward pretty early and when you do that it’s pretty hard to stop,” said Ryan.

The 22-year-old was man of the match in Bath. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The boys at the front did really well to stay up and stay in the fight and once you get two or three metres that close to the line, it’s hard to stop. We’re pretty happy with that one.”

That said, Leinster’s forwards were only too pleased for Larmour to steal the attention later as he picked off an ambitious pass from Bath out-half James Wilson – who seemed to think advantage was still playing for a crooked Leinster throw at the lineout.

“It was a bit of a relief, I have to say,” said Ryan. “No better man than Jordan in a bit of space, so we were a bit lucky there too with the advantage, but we’ll take it.”

More frustrating for the Leinster pack was watching Bath back rows François Louw and Sam Underhill regularly stealing their possession at the breakdown.

With the Premiership side visiting Dublin next weekend for the return tie, the ruck will be a major focus for Leinster in the coming days.

“I don’t know how many turnovers they got today, but too many,” said Ryan. “They did what they always do, they’re really good over the ball.

“We’ve got to be there earlier and if we’re not there earlier, we’ve got to be more aggressive to get them off the ball.

“They’re super players and we knew that coming into the game, so that’s definitely an area we’ve got to brush up on.”

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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