Madigan drives Leinster to the summit

Outhalf inspires fine comeback from Joe Schmidt’s side to go top of the league

RaboDirect PRO12, RDS, Dublin 23/3/2013Leinster vs Glasgow WarriorsLeinster's Ian Madigan runs in for a tryMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

RaboDirect PRO12, RDS, Dublin 23/3/2013Leinster vs Glasgow WarriorsLeinster's Ian Madigan runs in for a tryMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan


Leinster 22 Glasgow 17: Over the weekend Ian Madigan colourfully added to an outhalf debate that has slowed for now but is far from over. Paddy Jackson missed three kicks as Ulster crashed and burned, while Madigan led Leinster in a see-saw game in the RDS, where he was both the conductor and diva, the general and the cavalry.

Purists may be disgruntled that focus will fall on one player, when Leinster were also involved in a ferocious battle at the breakdown and had some seismic tackling all along the back line.

But kicking the entire basket of points and scoring a cheeky try against the pre-match league leaders interspersed with eye-catching risk taking as well as leaving Seán Cronin to swing late in the match – when all he need do was pass for the light footed hooker to steam in for a try – and you could say Madigan had a mixed bag as Leinster came from behind to win the top of the table meeting.

To pick holes is for another day and given most fans are not coaches, Madigan’s attitude, his boldness, immaculate kicking and not to underestimate the entertainment value, featured in stark contrast to Jackson’s three misses. Jackson left his kicking boots in the locker, while Madigan was wearing his dancing shoes. It’s only round one or two in that drama, which is likely to run and run.

“They are a very good team. I’ll be very happy if we don’t meet them again after this,” said Joe Schmidt of Glasgow, who lead from the beginning of the match until Madigan’s feint to Gordon D’Arcy and scrabble in for the winning touchdown on 71 minutes.

On Madigan’s contribution, Schmidt was encouraging and positive but also measured.

“I though his kicking was first rate. Into that wind it was very tough . . . I think players are criticised for taking too many chances but I think I’d encourage him to keep backing himself and if the space is there keep playing to the space.”

Flawed opening
Leinster played into a cold breeze first half and as Madigan steadied for his first penalty, the ball actually blew off the tee. Still he kept Leinster in the game with his three penalties as Glasgow made most of a flawed opening 40 minutes from the home side.

The frontrow combined for Glasgow’s first, hooker Dougie Hall poking a grubber to Isa Nacewa, who had to step to touch. From the lineout Moray Low burst forward with tighthead prop Ed Kalman on his shoulder to score. Duncan Weir converted for 0-7.

Just after the half hour DTH van der Merwe scorched down the left wing, the cover a little slow in tipping him into touch, but his offload found Peter Horne who strode in.

Trailing 12-17 thanks to Madigan’s perfect return from the boot, Leinster were chasing but still very much in touch. With the wind on their backs it was expected they would press after the break. The reverse is what happened.

Glasgow stepped up the pace with scrumhalf Niko Matawalu keeping the ball fizzing, Alex Dunbar and Horne as well as blindside Josh Strauss ensuring the Leinster tackling was sound and honest.

Madigan then nipped in for his try after an outrageously brash chip and collect behind his own goal line and then added a penalty to ease a little of the pressure down the home straight and put further distance between the sides.

Coach Gregor Townsend said it afterwards that Glasgow was not in Dublin for a losing bonus point and so they showed, hitting back with a last gasp offensive. Fifteen phases later and knocking on the home line for the win, the ball fell Leinster’s way and to some relief the game closed.

Schmidt’s team are on top of the table as Ulster visit the RDS next Saturday, Madigan and Jackson likely to go head to head in what is developing into a running sub plot between two talented outhalves.