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Josh van der Flier: Leinster's win over Ulster and current dominance is down to physicality and mindset

 

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Stand-out star: Josh Van der Flier produced a man of the match performance

Stand-out star: Josh Van der Flier produced a man of the match performance

�INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Stand-out star: Josh Van der Flier produced a man of the match performance

For 76 minutes, there was simply no give, James Hume's early score proving to be very much the exception rather than the rule.

While Robbie Henshaw's score just after half-time was the back-breaker, Leinster won Saturday's PRO14 title on the strength of their defence.

Ulster had all the ball they could have hoped for over the course of the game - 58% all told over the 80 minutes - but could find no way through.

Even over the course of a historic unbeaten campaign, man of the match Josh van der Flier felt it was of his side's best showings of the season.

"I think it's one of our most pleasing defensive performances this season," said the flanker who played his part in another Leinster back-row master-class.

"Ulster are a very good side so it's very pleasing to keep them out for that amount of time.

"They actually attack very well, but we managed to scramble quite well and work really hard.

"We didn't make many mistakes in defence and worked really hard, put some good contacts in. It doesn't really do justice to how good Ulster were. We had to work really, really hard."

The secret, Van der Flier, stressed, is quite simple.

"It is a mindset," he said. "The most basic thing about rugby is that if you are more physical and you win the gainline, then you will probably win the game.

"We have obviously built that up, getting our preparation up, but we can't underestimate the contribution of Hugh Hogan, our skills coach, getting that tackle technique right.

"We obviously have strategies for each game, subtle things. We have our defensive set-up; tackling - the way we want to tackle but then things vary from week to week.

"Like, for some games, we want to get up and (apply) pressure so that we don't let them use their footwork. Another time you want to tackle with two people rather than one-on-ones if they are much bigger guys or try and chop tackle and take them low.

"But at the end of the day, it does come down - no matter how technical you are about it - to physicality and mindset."

Belfast Telegraph