Dempsey expecting no surprises from former club Leinster
Girvan Dempsey is not expecting any bluffing from his old mates Leinster. A former player, academy manager and senior coach there, the essence of the famous Irish province is still in his DNA. Dempsey only arrived as attack coach of Bath Rugby in late summer, but it doesn’t mean there will be any soft spots come the Heineken Champions Cup clash at the Rec on Saturday. Rather then change their brutally effective gameplan to mitigate any inside knowledge Dempsey is sharing with the coaches and players at Far- leigh House, he is expecting the reigning champions to do what they normally do. Even without their Ireland internationals they put 111 points on Ospreys and Dragons in the league the past two weekends; showing no team in the Northern hemisphere has such strength in depth. Looking forward to pitting his wits against some familiar faces and brains, Dempsey said: “I think they’ll stick to what’s tried and tested and what works for them. “I think they will have one or two tricks up their sleeve off starter plays. They always have one or two. “I think I know what kind of plays they’re going to challenge us with, but it’s making sure we’re clued into it, read the triggers and stop it. “What they pride themselves on is their own structured rugby, their phase attack and their defensive pressure. “I massively want to win this one. More than any other game. “Every game is a big game. They roll around week on week, but this game has a lot of spice, a lot of added interest in it.” Leinster are second and Bath third, two points behind them after two rounds in Pool 1. After doing battle at the Rec they will butt heads again at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin a week later. Even someone who knows the talent in the Leinster ranks is surprised by some of the scorelines they’ve been registering. “It was challenging for us to see that and see what they have in reserve, and what they have been prepping in the background,” Dempsey admitted. “They’ve effectively been preparing two sides.” He believes Bath’s chances of causing an upset against the champions could revolve around who wins the battle of the rucks. “They pride themselves hugely on their attack and defensive breakdown,” he said. “They have threats across the back row in terms of poach threats, jackal threats and ball carry. “They’re a momentum team who look to build momentum through strong, direct carries and they’re very tactically astute in terms of seeing and exploiting space. “But there’s no better test, no better opportunity to focus the mind from a players’ point of view than testing yourself against the best in Europe.”
Sale Sharks duo Chris Ashton and Josh Strauss swoop in to bring down Sam Underhill, as Bath narrowly avoided dropping down the Premiership table thanks to Joe Cokanasiga’s late try, which earned a 7-7 draw. See pages 48&49 for a full match report and reaction from the Rec.