Leinster smash Dragons
PRO14 REPORT: Leinster powered away from the Dragons on Friday, scoring eight tries and 54 unanswered points to stay hot on the heels of Scarlets at the top of Conference B.
The visitors got off to a great start as James Benjamin’s try put them ahead, but that was as good as it got with Jamison Gibson-Park, Isa Nacewa, Josh Murphy, and Max Deegan all crossing in the space of 15 minutes.
And after half-time it remained one-way traffic, as Nacewa doubled his tally before Jordan Larmour, Rory O’Loughlin, and a penalty try put the gloss on a resounding 54-10 triumph.
Dragons looked assured with the ball in hand early on, and built the phases well until Sarel Pretorius hit Gavin Henson perfectly to ping a third-minute drop-goal through the uprights.
And the visitors had the game’s opening try shortly after; again they kept the ball well and hammered away at the Leinster defences, with finally Benjamin the man to breach the line and dive over the whitewash.
Henson nailed the extras from out wide to make it 10-0, although that advantage did not last long as Leinster scored a fantastic try.
Ross Bryne found some space to break, and kicked over the top for Fergus McFadden to feed Sean Cronin, and finally Gibson-Park crashed over the line.
Byrne added the extras and the turnaround was complete in the 27th minute as Leinster came forward once again.
Dragons committed numbers in defence, and with a penalty advantage the Boys in Blue quickly flipped the ball out wide to the left flank for Nacewa to finish with aplomb in the left corner.
The hosts really were into their stride now, and after Byrne aggressively kicked a penalty into the corner, Leinster smelled blood and turned the screw with Murphy scrambling over from the resulting lineout on his first senior start.
And Leo Cullen’s charges had a bonus-point score before the Dragons could catch their breath. Jordan Larmour made the break, Byrne again elected to cross-kick to McFadden, and he and Deegan were left with a two-on-one in the right corner.
Angus O’Brien saw yellow for a deliberate knock on with 48 minutes on the clock, with referee Sam Grove-White awarding a penalty try to boot as Scott Fardy was looking to send Deegan over the line.
It took just three minutes for Leinster to score again, this time Nacewa diving over in the left corner as Dragons’ defence were stretched once more, but the score stayed at 42-10 for a scrappy 20-minute period.
But Leinster were not finished yet and there was still time for Larmour to win the race to Noel Reid’s perfectly weighted grubber-kick, with the score confirmed via the TMO, and O’Loughlin to capitalise on Larmour’s searing break through the tiring Dragons line as the Boys in Blue ended the clash in style.
Tries: Gibson-Park, Nacewa 2, Murphy, Deegan, Larmour, O'Loughlin , Penalty Try
Cons: Byrne 5, Marsh
Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Rory O'Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Isa Nacewa (captain), 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Conor O'Brien.
Dragons: 15 Angus O'Brien, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 James Benjamin, 7 Ollie Griffiths (captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Ellis Shipp, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Rynard Landman, 20 Ben Roach, 21 Dan Babos, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Connor Edwards.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Dunx McClement, Bob Nevins (Scotland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)