Tuesday 11 December 2018

Ruthless Leinster triumph without stars

Dragons 10 Leinster 59

Adam Byrne of Leinster is tackled by Hallam Amos of Dragons. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Adam Byrne of Leinster is tackled by Hallam Amos of Dragons. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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 triumph.

Ross Byrne orchestrated the victory with a near faultless performance as he set up two scores for Dave Kearney and one for fullback Hugo Keenan.

1 December 2018; Lloyd Fairbrother of Dragons is tackled by Caelan Doris, left, and Bryan Byrne of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 10 match between Dragons and Leinster at Rodney Parade in Newport, Wales. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
1 December 2018; Lloyd Fairbrother of Dragons is tackled by Caelan Doris, left, and Bryan Byrne of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 10 match between Dragons and Leinster at Rodney Parade in Newport, Wales. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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 scoring started after seven minutes. Jason Tovey's misplaced pass gifted Leinster possession, and they punished their hosts less than a minute later when Ross Byrne floated a cross-kick into the hands of Dave Kearney for a simple run in at the corner. Byrne added the extras from wide out and he was lining up another conversion seven minutes later after Penny crashed over.

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.

Patrick Patterson of Leinster. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Patrick Patterson of Leinster. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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.

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. Williams 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.

Byrne's brilliance came to the fore again when he dabbed a perfectly weighted grubber through for Hugo Keenan to score Leinster's sixth. Replacement hooker Byrne got in on the act to crash over from close range, before O'Brien bagged an easy try at the corner.

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