Close sidebar

The Power Plays: Mike McCarthy On The Unseen Work In Leinster Attack

Power Plays Leinster

Brought to you by Energia, proud sponsors of Leinster Rugby

Power Plays Leinster


Leinster fell to a disappointing defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield as they came out on the wrong side of a 28-11 scoreline on Friday night. 

The result, of course, has little bearing on Leinster’s season with top-spot in Conference B already secured and a home semi-final to go with it.

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of learnings for the eastern province as they prepare for their Champions Cup quarter-final with Ulster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Despite the loss, there were some impressive displays from Leo Cullen’s side and here, former Leinster and Ireland international Mike McCarthy goes through some of the little subtleties and unseen work from the eastern province which often goes unnoticed.

Leinster Power Plays


Working Hard On The Deck 

A good example of some unseen work comes from Dan Leavy after 12 minutes.

Leinster had a six-man lineout with Dan Leavy (white) and Joe Tomane (red) out in the backs. Leinster secure good ball off the top and Luke McGrath hits up Tomane. The centre draws in two or three defenders, runs quite a good line, the outside defender bites in a bit because he thinks he’s going to carry and he gives a nice little pop pass to Leavy who gets a bit of gain line in his carry.

Power Plays Leinster

It may be just a small thing but Leavy does a really good crocodile roll. That stops James Johnstone from getting in for the poach because Leinster probably identified that Edinburgh have got some really good poachers, people who get in over the ball to slow it and turn it over, especially Hamish Watson. But by doing that crocodile roll, you can see the 13 is looking to go for the poach but because Leavy does that crocodile roll a couple of times, he just can’t even get in with a sniff.

I think it’s a really good clearout as well by Tomane but it’s made easy by the work of Leavy has done on the ground.

A pod of forwards come around the corner and they hit back down from where they came. They bomb a two on one but they actually created the space. There is a big overlap there. Conor O’Brien just needs to pass the ball a bit earlier. He gets tackled and the offload doesn’t go to hand but they created the space and they created an opportunity.

Power Plays Insert


Fighting At The Front Of The Maul

My next example is not the dark arts, well it is a bit but more importantly, it’s the unseen work. Sean Cronin scores Leinster’s only try after 15 minutes and there will be no mention of Michael Bent but for me, Bent makes that try.

It’s a 6-man lineout. You see Bent (red) taking the corner. It’s a driving maul try. The pod of three (2) – Rhys Ruddock and Ed Byrne (green) lift, Josh Murphy receives the ball and you just see Bent, this was preplanned, he binds onto the back lifter and his angle is facing towards the posts.

Power Plays Leinster

It’s a shift drive. For starters, that’s really good how he takes the corner and enabling the whole drive to pincer off. Because, normally, once the ball is thrown in and the catcher receives it, you normally lose that pod of three, the two lifters and the jumper because either they get sacked or smashed.

Power Plays Leinster

So, Bent takes the corner and it allows the momentum of the guys hitting the maul to pincer off and go towards the posts. But then Benty is actually really strong, he wins the height, his body height is really good because he’s at the front of that maul.

John Barclay, he tries to get underneath (red), you always try to get underneath people but Benty dips his height, gets lower than Barclay so Barclay is ineffective in trying to stop Benty.

Power Plays Leinster

Power Plays Leinster

As a forward pack in mauls, you always talk about staying square, staying straight. If you’re at the front of that maul, there is a massive emphasis on the front guys to stay square and to stay straight because it’s easy for players to get twisted out. As a forward, you always talk about fighting at the front of that maul. You are the foundations of setting that maul, you always talk about staying square, staying straight, fighting to keep facing forwards. A lot of people would give up easy on it. It’s just the unseen work from Benty for me. He makes that maul try.


Energia supplies the energy needs of 58,100 business customers and over 201,000 homes, with great offers for electricity and gas customer’s nationwide and proud sponsor of Leinster Rugby and Energia Park.

The long-term agreement allows Energia to deliver its vision through their new campaign #ThePowerBehindLeinster, by powering rugby from grassroots through to the European stage.

For behind the scenes action and exclusive content follow Energia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on

• Facebook @energia.home
• Twitter @EnergiaHome
• Instagram @energiaireland

Read More About: , , , , ,

Author: Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy is a highly successful former Connacht, Leinster and Ireland forward - he won 19 caps for Ireland in a career which spanned 16 years.