Leinster young guns issue another statement of intent with nine-try Dragons demolition
Dragons 10 Leinster 59
Leinster left their stars at home but tightened their grip on their Guinness PRO14 conference as they eased to a nine-try victory over the Dragons.
Johnny Sexton and Co. were not needed for the trip to South Wales as Leo Cullen’s second-string stood up and showed their ruthless streak in a bonus-point 59-10 triumph.
Ross Byrne orchestrated the victory with a near faultless performance as he set-up two scores for Dave Kearney and one for full-back Hugo Keenan.
Scott Penny and Scott Fardy made sure Leinster went in at half-time with a comfortable 16-point advantage before Kearney wrapped up the bonus-point three minutes into the second-half.
Caelen Doris, Hugo Keenan, Bryan Byrne and Jimmy O’Brien completed the rout to make it six wins in-a-row against the Welsh region.
The PRO14 and European champions could have been forgiven for looking ahead to their Champions Cup double-header against Bath after winning all five of their previous meetings with the Welsh side.
Their coach, Carlow native Bernard Jackman, was condemned to his hotel room again as he served the final game of a two-week WRU ban for comments he made about referee Ian Davies following his side’s Welsh derby defeat to Cardiff Blues last month.
He watched his side battle to a hard-fought win over Edinburgh weekend, but Leinster made sure he was in for a night of uncomfortable viewing after seven minutes.
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Jason Tovey’s mis-placed pass gifted Leinster possession, and they punished their hosts less than a minute later when Ross Byrne floated a perfectly weighted cross-kick into the hands of Dave Kearney for a simple run in at the corner.
Byrne added the extras from wide on the left and he was lining up another conversion seven minutes later after Penny crashed over at the second time of asking.
Tovey was at fault again as Conor O’Brien swept him aside to power downfield before Leinster built the phases and sent Penny crashing over the line.
His effort was ruled out for a knock on, but he burrowed over moments later after the visitors took advantage of Lewis Evans’ sin-binning.
It got worse for Tovey and the Dragons when O’Brien rumbled through a weak attempted tackle. This time Leinster’s bludgeoning build-up was replaced with a moment of class as Jamison Gibson-Park picked out Fardy with a sumptuous ball over the top to allow the Aussie to waltz over.
Caelen Doris had a try ruled out for reaching into a ruck from an offside position, and after a short-lived attacking threat from the Dragons, referee Lloyd Linton blew for half-time with the scores at 19-3 to Leinster.
The second-half began exactly how the first started as Byrne used his boot to pick out Kearney for his second and the crucial bonus-point score.
Byrne added the extras before the Dragons finally bared their teeth in attack. Harri Keddie picked up the ball and burst through at a ruck, before he linked up with Ryan Bevington.
The supporting prop then found Williams inside him, who saw off the attentions of three defenders to sprint over from 30 metres out.
Tovey’s conversion cut the gap to 26-10, but normal service was resumed when Doris crashed over from close range for an easy seven-point score.
Byrne’s brilliance came to the fore again when he dabbed a perfectly weighted grubber through for Hugo Keenan to score Leinster’s sixth.
It wasn’t long until replacement hooker Byrne got in on the act to crash over from close range, before Paddy Patterson marked his senior debut with a cut-out pass over the top of the defence to give O’Brien an easy try in the corner.
Dragons: J Williams, J Rosser (A Warren 56), T Morgan, J Sage, H Amos, J Tovey (A Robson 66), R Williams (T Knoyle 61), R Bevington (A Jarvis 72), R Hibbard (E Dee 47), L Fairbrother (L Brown 40), R Landman, L Evans (C Hill, 40), H Keddie (R Moriarty 47), A Wainwright, O Griffiths.
Tries – R Williams 46 Cons – Tovey 47 Pens – Tovey 19.
Leinster: H Keenan, A Byrne, J O’Brien, C O’Brien, D Kearney (T Daly 64), R Byrne (C Frawley 70), J Gibson-Park (P Patterson 66), E Byrne (P Dooley )52, J Tracy (B Bryne 52), M Bent (A Porter 48), R Molony, S Fardy (captain), J Murphy (M Deegan 52), S Penny (M Kearney 62), C Doris.
Tries – D Kearney 7, 43, Penny 13, Fardy 23, Doris 55, Keenan 63, B Byrne 65, J O’Brien 68, 80 Cons – R Byrne 8, 13, 45, 54, 61, Frawley 69, 80.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)