Leinster maintain 100 per cent record with URC win over Dragons

Eighteen games played, 18 games won, and with yet another bonus point bagged Leinster are assured of a home draw in the URC quarter-finals with four rounds still to play.

he crowd of 12,441 at a cold and blustery RDS didn’t expect any surprises, rather their interest was in seeing how brightly the lesser lights could shine, including debutant Jack Boyle. Brightly enough as it turned out.

For Leo Cullen however the main item of interest was in getting Jason Jenkins back on the field after a torn hamstring pre-Christmas.

It wasn’t like they needed him to swing the game their way, for that had been sorted – as expected – in the first half, albeit on the last play of that period when the impressive Liam Turner switched the play nicely to allow Harry Byrne score his second try.

Jenkins was one of a clatter or replacements towards the end of the third quarter, by which stage the home side were 31-7 ahead.

It wasn’t as if the Dragons had no ball – on the contrary, they dominated territory and possession, for which they got zero reward.

If phase-building was worth points in itself they would have been sorted. Instead it looked like an exercise in frustration.

Which is how Will Reed had looked in the first half when he threw a no-look pass out the back only for Luke McGrath, having read word for word how the story was going to unfold, intercepted and completed the 45-metre journey to the scoring zone.

A sickener if you were a Dragon for they had been going okay at that early stage of the game, despite being done by Byrne after only four minutes.

A 14 points deficit away to Leinster means the end of the affair.

After that it’s just about the details of separation. By the break Leinster were 26-7 ahead, and despite that slow third quarter picked up again on the home straight to provide the game’s best try, for Rob Russell.

It wasn’t the only time Lee Barron got involved and looked very comfortable with ball in hand in open space. Another big, ball playing Leinster hooker – who would have thought that?

Scorers – Leinster 43: (H Byrne 2 tries; 3 cons; C Tector try; con; L McGrath, R Ruddock, J Larmour, R Russell try each). Dragons 14: (R Williams, JJ Hanrahan try; W Reed 2 cons).

Leinster: J O’Brien; J Larmour (R Russell 55), L Turner, J Osborne, D Kearney; H Byrne (C Tector 70), L McGrath (N McCarthy 55); M Milne (J Boyle 55), J McKee (L Barron 55), M Ala’alatoa (T Clarkson 55); R Molony (J Jenkins 55), B Deeny; R Ruddock (capt), M Deegan, S Penny (W Connors 62)

Dragons: A O’Brien; S Tomkinson (JJ Hanrahan HIA, 46), S Hughes, J Dixon (J Williams ht), A Hewitt; W Reed, R Williams (L Jones 66); R Jones (A Seiuli 54), B Coghlan (J Benjamin HIA, 9-21; 65), L Fairbrother (C Coleman 59); M Screech, B Carter; B Fry (S Lonsdale 56), R Moriarty (R Woodman 70), T Basham.

Referee: M Adamson (Scotland).


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