What must Leinster do to repeat their heroics over Exeter Chiefs in Dublin?

Leinster produced a near perfect European away performance at Sandy Park on Sunday night to down Exeter Chiefs and take control of their Pool in the Champions Cup.

The boys in blue became the first team to win in Devon at the home of the reigning Aviva Premiership champions since December 2016.

And now the return leg brings the Chiefs to Dublin and the Aviva Stadium and Leo Cullen’s side know that victory there would all but guarantee their passage to the knockout rounds.

So what do they need to do to ensure they repeat their heroics of Sunday and do the double over their English counterparts.

Rest those sore bodies

The forward effort was the key to the victory in the south west of England as the Leinster pack racked up some truly eye-watering numbers.

Collectively they produced 45 phases in a row before finally Jack Conan forced his way over from close range to cross for the pivotal late try that denied Exeter even a losing bonus point.

Conan’s numbers from the 80 minutes are bordering on absurd, the No.8 made 20 carries and ten tackles in the clash.

But Sean O’Brien was not far behind with 15 carries and 12 tackles, Tadhg Furlong made 16 carries in a man of the match outing while Jack McGrath managed 17 and he came off the replacements bench.

No Leinster player actually made more than 36m with ball in hand, but it was the way they ground down Exeter in a style that the Chiefs have made their own calling card in recent seasons.

That will mean that there will have been some very sore bodies this morning and Cullen and his strength and conditioning team will need to box very clever if they are to keep their side ticking over until next Saturday on only a six-day turnaround.

Don’t think the job is done

Leinster do not have to look very far back in their history to know that an English side coming over to Dublin a week after a home defeat is to be feared.

Back in 2013 Northampton Saints were condemned to a humbling home defeat by Brian O’Driscoll and co at Franklin’s Gardens but a week later the English side turned the tide thanks to Jamie Elliott’s breakaway try.

Last season Cullen’s side made no such mistake in their festive double header with Saints but the year before that Toulon took them down both home and away.

And the year before that Harlequins also came within a whisker of walking off with a victory in Dublin so beware an English backlash the other side of the channel.

Be even more clinical

While it might seem churlish to criticise Leinster for their performance at Sandy Park, in the first quarter they could and probably should have been further ahead.

Jonathan Sexton’s foot was adjudged to have just strayed into touch before releasing Luke McGrath for what looked like a lovely early try.

And the TMO could not find a clear view of Devin Toner’s potential try all inside the first 15 minutes of the game.

That meant despite being on top the Chiefs were still in the game at 0-0 and although Sexton did cross for a try soon after, the boot of Gareth Steenson and James Short’s try shortly after the break brought the Chiefs back into a game that should have been firmly in Leinster’s grasp.


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