Jordan Larmour a potent new weapon in Leinster’s armoury

So much to admire in fullback’s footwork, peripheral vision and decision-making

Jordan Larmour in action against Munster at Thomond Park. In terms of touches to points ratio, no one could eclipse his personal contribution. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Jordan Larmour in action against Munster at Thomond Park. In terms of touches to points ratio, no one could eclipse his personal contribution. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Jordan Larmour’s statistics provide an impressive skeleton of achievement but are superseded when the flesh of his performance is added to the figures in Leinster’s 34-24 Guinness Pro14 victory over Munster at Thomond Park on Tuesday afternoon.

The 20-year-old dual underage international in rugby and hockey produced a strikingly mature and assured performance from fullback in a back three that had never previously played together. It was the nuance in the way he performed that deserves the acclamation more so than the eye-catching numbers; for example, beating more defenders (nine) than anyone else.   

There were other players in red and blue who kicked more, passed more, carried ball more often and even made more metres in attack – Munster’s impressive left wing Alex Wootton racked up 114 metres, the most of any player on the pitch – than Larmour (111 metres) but none impacted the scoreboard to anything like the same extent as the Leinster fullback.

He scored one of the best individual tries seen at the Limerick venue and had a direct input into the other three his team mustered during the 80-minutes. Beginning at the end, his try in the 69th minute, like the majority of his positive contributions during the game, was made under intense pressure.

Fielding an up and under from Munster outhalf Ian Keatley five metres outside the 22, he twice steps off his left foot, to beat Sam Arnold and Rory Scannell, both conspicuously good tacklers, his ability to slide sideways at speed allowing him to elude their clutches and the instant acceleration taking him away from his pursuers.

Keatley isn’t the first and won’t be the last person to be left clutching air as Larmour steps off his right foot this time while simultaneously increasing his speed. The Leinster fullback notices that Simon Zebo – it was a superb effort from the Munster replacement in a bid to prevent the try – is closing from his right and while running at full tilt switches the ball to his left hand to facilitate a fend, which although unsuccessful shows great awareness.

From a technical perspective there was so much to admire in Larmour’s footwork, peripheral vision and decision-making under pressure. In the build-up to Dan Leavy’s try, it is Larmour’s 35-metre break that takes the visitors from their own half to the Munster 22 and a matter of seconds before Ross Byrne’s pinpoint cross-kick allows Leavy an unencumbered run over the line.

Double whammy

Leinster’s second try was once again a tribute to Larmour’s vision and technique, appreciating that Munster, in rushing up in defence, had no one in behind. The speed of getting the ball from his hands to his right foot with little time or space was matched by the weight of the kick; Lowe was tackled early by Andrew Conway and Munster suffered the double whammy of the penalty try plus yellow card.

The visitors’ third try also began with Larmour although his input to the score was more incidental. Having fielded a high ball it squirts loose from his grasp as he is tackled by Darren Sweetnam but Rory O’Loughlin is quickest to react ducking under a tackle and scampering clear before linking with Barry Daly, who gives Robbie Henshaw a scoring pass.

What’s interesting is that the player closest to Henshaw as he touches down is Larmour, the latter getting up off the ground from the initial tackle and working hard to support the break. There were other high-profile snapshots, decent clearance kicks, good work in the air and that priceless facility to beat players with little or no space.

At one point a Zebo grubber bounces awkwardly coming off Larmour’s knee but he doesn’t panic, simply drops on the ball, gets up and then beats the first two chasers, earning 15-metres for his side in the process.

There were also the occasional blemishes, a sliced kick into touch, a missed tackle on Conway for the Munster fullback’s first try and a little lack of foresight in identifying the danger when Conway grabbed his second but when weighed against his overall contribution these are minor cavils.

The statistics also identified other standout players like Devin Toner, who led the tackle category with a monumental 22, one more than CJ Stander and two more than Robbie Henshaw. Rory O’Loughlin, Ross Byrne, Wootton, Conway and Stephen Archer also contributed handsomely to their respective teams while few would quibble with the decision to give Leavy the man-of-the-match accolade he deserved.

But in terms of touches to points ratio none could eclipse Larmour’s contribution.     

Jordan Larmour’s key stats:

Attacking

Runs 10

Metres Made 111

Clean Breaks 2

Defenders Beaten 9

Offloads 2

Passes 2

Kicks 5

Defending

Turnovers Conceded 1

Tackles 2

Missed Tackles 1

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