Man-of-the-match Garry Ringrose may have won many of the plaudits for his excellent performance in Leinster’s 29-13 win over Toulouse at the RDS this afternoon, but the centre was keen to pass on the praise to his forwards who put in a brutally dominant display.
From the off, Leinster were keen to lay down a physical marker with the likes of Josh van der Flier, Rhys Ruddock, Cian Healy, James Ryan and Sean Cronin all impressing.
The effort of the forwards was best exemplified late in the second half when Toulouse had their real last chance to mount an unlikely comeback as they went through numerous phases and lineout drives just metres from the Leinster line.
Toulouse’s ball-carriers were met by an impenetrable blue wall time and time again until a fantastic turnover was won by the home side.
Ringrose admitted post-match that this was a “big moment” in the game and he paid tribute to his forwards for the effort they put in.
“It was a big moment,” Ringrose said after the match.
“Have to commend the forwards for the effort they put in there, they really fought tooth and nail for every inch. I was close to our line for one or two of those phases and the effort they had to put in to keep them out, certainly, from the forwards perspective, it shows how much it means to them and an opportunity to show the 18,500 people that paid to watch us how much it means to us.
“So yeah I just have to commend the forwards on that one, the nine and wingers made a couple of tackles on that short side but other than that it was just an eight-man effort to keep them out.”
One aspect of this game which will be the most pleasing for the eastern province and that also acts as a warning to those teams who will enter the last-eight is the fact that Leinster dismantled one of the form teams in Europe without a number of their front-line international players.
This, according to Ringrose, is down to the competition in the squad.
“You can’t underestimate the work that takes to get a bonus point against Toulouse. It was a squad effort and the 23 that were lucky enough to go out were representing the whole group, because even with some guys missing through injury, there was still a huge amount of competition for places there and the guys who did manage to get out there today are well aware of that.
“We all know now that with the competition there, Conor O’Brien would be the perfect example with how well he played last week against Ulster, to make his European debut, it certainly won’t be the last time that we see him. That kind of adds to the group, with regards to everyone, whether you’re picked to play or not, whether you’re injured or fit, you still contribute as much as you can. So that’s in the mentality for the whole week.”
Next up for Leinster is a trip to the Ricoh Arena to take on Wasps, a win there and they can look forward to a crucial home quarter-final.