Leinster puts down big Euro marker
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Leinster made a big statement about their European credentials as their ran six tries past Ulster in a one-sided Irish derby.
The 38-7 win at the RDS Arena in Dublin on Saturday, not only reaffirmed their favourites status to win the Pro14 title, but also showed they will be tough to beat in the European Champions Cup.
A fine brace from Fergus McFadden and Jordan Larmour helped Leinster make it five straight Pro14 victories.
Barry Daly and Johnny Sexton also went over in a brilliant home performance which keeps Leinster neck-and-neck with Scarlets at the top of Conference B.
Ulster made a disastrous start in their first match of 2018 against Munster and they repeated that trick by conceding a try within five minutes.
Wing Larmour has been enjoying a delightful season for Leo Cullen’s men and showed off his silky footwork once more – sidestepping the Ulster defence to dot down.
Leinster had Ulster on the ropes and Daly was on hand to cross the whitewash as he beat his man with a fine burst of pace to thunder over in the left corner.
Munster certainly felt the wrath of Ulster as they let a 17-0 slip over Les Kiss’ men on New Year’s Day but Leinster were in no mood to be so generous.
Seven minutes into the second half Leinster applied the pressure as the ball found its way to McFadden who produced a brilliant side-step on his way to the try line.
And the 31-year-old didn’t have to wait long for his second of the afternoon and was all down to the superb work of Andrew Porter.
The prop thundered his way past three defenders before laying it off to McFadden who turned on the afterburners to burst clear of the Ulster defence and give Leinster their fourth of the evening.
Larmour was eager to get involved again and it came from another good turnover by Cullen’s men as the wing burst clear for his second of the afternoon.
It had been a chastening afternoon for Ulster who were simply overpowered by the constant menace of Leinster.
But they did finally get themselves on the scoreboard with seven minutes to play courtesy of Jacob Stockdale.
A fine break from Tommy Bowe in the midfield relieved pressure as the ball was then recycled to Stockdale who sniped over for Ulster’s first try of the afternoon.
But it was mere consolation as Leinster found time to notch up their sixth try of the afternoon thanks to Johnny Sexton in the 81st minute before adding the extras himself.
Leo Cullen will be delighted with the way his side killed off Ulster in the second period and means they haven’t lost in the league since Round 8 against Glasgow Warriors.
Tries: Larmour 2, Daly, McFadden 2, Sexton
Cons: Byrne 3, Sexton
Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath (captain).
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Noel Reid.
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Johnny Stewart, 8 Jean Deysel, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Pete Browne, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Alan O'Connor, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 John Cooney, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Tommy Bowe.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville, Shane Kierans (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)