ANALYSIS: The Ultimate Defence Guru dives into the strengths of the Champions Cup Contenders

ANALYSIS: The Ultimate Defence Guru dives into the strengths of the Champions Cup Contenders

Professional defence coach Omar Mouneimne is back!

 
The Worcester coach returns to Ultimate Rugby to provide insight into the latest trends in the rugby world with a keen eye on the Champions Cup ahead of the final round of the pool stages.
 
 
 
He has a look at the favourites for the title namely Racing 92, Exeter Chiefs and Leinster and what makes them so good.
 
 
Watch: Omar Mouneimne takes a look at the Champions Cup contenders
 
 
 
 
Racing 92
 
 
 
It's hard to believe that at 69 minutes it was 22-20 to Munster during their round 4 clash with Racing 92 and the clash ended 39-22. That just shows you the firepower of the Parisian club.
 
 
 
Racing has the flair associated with the classic French side's of the past and we see that in the first clip below.
 
 
 
Racing did well to work their way into Munster's 22 and the attack starts to get a bit sloppy before Teddy Iribaren comes up with a brilliant chicken wing pass out to Teddy Thomas.
 
 
Typical French, flexing their muscles.
 
 
 
 
 
Part of Racing's success has been the form of Scottish flyhalf Finn Russell who has been OUTSTANDING. His variation of play has been superb which bodes well for when you have guys like Teddy Thomas and Virmi Vakatawa in your side. 
 
 
 
Russell takes the risk with the crossfield kick into the corner, albeit with the penalty advantage, and it pays off as Thomas comes up with a heavenly finish.
 
 
 
 
Just a close look at that finish from Thomas, it really is a sensational piece of skill.
 

The next try further illustrates how Russell has varied his approach with a nice wrap around here before Vakatawaka breaks through.


Vakatawaka has no right to breakthrough here but he just powers through, looks for the offload and he is just too powerful as he goes in for the score.

 

Vakatawaka has been key to Racing 92 and could do similar damage in the Six Nations for France.


 
 
From a scrum here he just slides through the Munster defence breaks two tackles and then offloads as Racing 92 going into the Munster 22 at a crucial time in the game.
 
Four or five phases later it all pays off as Juan Imhoff runs a great line to slip through the defence and is off to score. Completing a sublime 70-metre attack that put Racing on track to victory as Munster are absolutely blown away.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Leinster

 
Leinster and Racing 92 top the stats with Leinster scoring the most tries with 26 and Racing not too far behind on 23. Surprisingly Racing have kicked quite a bit more than the defending PRO14 champions by some 1 000 kicking metres while there isn't much difference in the running metres between the two.
 
 
 
What makes Leinster so impressive is the different faces they have. There is the power game, the finesse game and the cerebral game.
 
 
 
The presence in mind for one of the tries against Lyon where Ross Byrne cross kicked for James Lowe from a penalty is simply incredible. It also shows that they are willing to take risks at times and are being rewarded for doing so.
 
 
 
 
The next clip shows how Leinster's finesse as they are shunted back and put under pressure from a box kick. Lyon catch Leinster ball and all with the box kick, massive first hit comes in with a great counter ruck that follows.
 
 
 
At this stage, most teams will panic but Leinster have the presence of mind to go down the short side and cut off Lyon's line speed on the opposite side of the ruck. 
 
 
 
The slick hand and running lines are excellent as they break line and kick through and finish off the try that was simply ruled out because of Luke McGrath being in front of the kicker. 
 
 
 
However, the composure to do this is outstanding as the pressure from a box kick and chase of that calibre you are under so much pressure that you obliged to return to the kick.
 
 
 
The power game of Leinster comes in when they operate in the oppositions 22 here. 
 
 
 
30 minutes into the game they pick and go a few times before Leinster backs sweep around from the short side to take the space and are just stopped by a tenacious defensive effort from Lyon. 
 
 
 
 
They hold them out but again Leinster are relentless as Max Deegan and Josh van der Flier drive at the line drawing the defenders in before it goes to the backs were Lowe draws in a few defenders and offloads to Dave Kearney to score.
 
 
 
They are absolutely ruthless and relentless.
 
 
 
.Another example is this try from Deegan as they work their way close to the Lyon try line with their brutality and patience before Deegan goes on a hardline and receives a great pass to score.
 
 
 
 
Exeter Chiefs
 
 
Now my dark horse to come through is the Exeter Chiefs.
 
 
They had a great game against Glasgow to draw 31 all at Scotstoun, a difficult place to come away with a win. They have scored the fourth most tries in the competition but what they do have is a superb defence.
 
 
Their line speed is incredible and they are very aggressive at the defensive breakdown.
 
 
Watch in the GIF below, Glasgow look to attack wide but Exeter rush up on them with their line speed causing a fumble. Nic White pounces on the opportunity and races away to score.
 
 
 
Exeter did the same thing to Saracens' in the Premiership and it brought the same reward for White. Another rush up on defence causing the fumble it as Saracens look to force it with Exeter pushing up wide on the edges making it difficult to go wide.
 
 
 
 
Exeter are similar to Leinster with the work they do once they are in the Gold Zone, the opposition's 22 close to the try line.
 
 
They have massive power game, a couple of pick and goes and pick flicks before Kvesic goes over.
 
 
 
Conclusion
 
 
Outside of Exeter, Toulouse are another dark horse as they have the joint best defence with Saracens. They have struggled to score tries compared to the other contenders dotting down 14 times but they could just click at any moment and have real game-breakers.
 
 
 
The tie-up to win the competition, for me, is between Racing 92 and Leinster with Exeter Chiefs and Toulouse as dark horses while you can never write off someone like Clermont. 
 
 

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