Monday 22 January 2018

Conan strikes early double as Leinster storm to summit

Dragons 22-54 Leinster

Leinster's Adam Byrne makes a break in the build up to his side's seventh try Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Leinster's Adam Byrne makes a break in the build up to his side's seventh try Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Jack Conan and Joey Carbery will have no doubt caught the eye of the Ireland coach as they enjoyed a pair of stunning performances in this bonus-point triumph.

A first-half double from Conan began the rout for Leo Cullen's men before he turned provider for Jamison Gibson-Park to score a third.

Leinster players Ed Byrne (left) and Jack Conan following the match Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Leinster players Ed Byrne (left) and Jack Conan following the match Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Dragons put up some resistance when they scored through Adam Hughes, but Richardt Strauss earned the bonus-point moments later.

Leinster continued to heap more misery on the hapless Dragons and added further scores from James Tracy, Hayden Trigg and a late Luke McGrath brace.

The five-point win moves them above Munster to the top of the table with a home clash against Scarlets on the horizon. The hosts had only won once in their last six league matches but turned on the power up front to earn an early scrum penalty.

Dorian Jones booted the Dragons into an early 3-0 lead, but that proved to be the wake-up call Leinster needed.

Leinster's Cathal Marsh is tackled by Ollie Griffiths of Newport Gwent Dragons Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Leinster's Cathal Marsh is tackled by Ollie Griffiths of Newport Gwent Dragons Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Carbery showed Schmidt exactly what he is missing moments when he used his dazzling footwork to jink through the line and sprint clear, before he switched with Conan, who had an easy run-in.

Ross Byrne converted for a 7-3 lead, and the Leinster travelling support did not have to wait long for a second score from Conan. The destructive No 8 picked up at the base of a ruck and powered over the try-line from close range to give Byrne an easy conversion to make it 14-3 after 23 minutes.

Conan was central again after the break as he burst clear to set up Gibson-Park for an easy run-in, and Byrne was on target again to make it 21-3.

The Dragons finally showed some fight to pull a try back from Hughes, but Strauss made sure of the bonus point from close range after another Carbery break.

Tracy was then shunted over for try number five as they continued to step on the gas. Trigg then pounced on a comedy of Dragons errors to score before Matthew Screech notched a consolation.

McGrath put the icing on the 54-22 victory with two scores, before Sarel Pretorious scurried over.

Dragons - C Meyer (O'Brien 40); A Hughes, T Morgan, J Dixon (Warren 58), P Howard; D Jones, T Knoyle; S Hobbs (T Davies 55), E Dee (R Buckley 73) , B Harris (L Fairbrother 55), N Crosswell, R Landman (Creech 55), O Griffiths, N Cudd (Keddie 68), L Evans (capt).

Leinster - J Carbery (Marsh 75); A Byrne, Z Kirchner, N Reid, F McFadden (Daly 65); R Byrne, J Gibson-Park (McGrath 54); P Dooley(Byrne 52), R Strauss (capt) (Tracy 54), M Bent (Ross 54), R Molony, M McCarthy (Triggs 54), R Ruddock, P Timmins (Deegan 5), J Conan.

Ref - M Mitrea

Irish Independent

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