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Leinster makes statement against bumbling Bulls

MATCH REPORT: Irish powerhouse Leinster made a serious statement of intent with a comprehensive 47-14 United Rugby Championship win over the Bulls at the RDS Arena in Dublin on Friday.

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The game was billed as the tournament’s No.1 (Leinster) against No.2 (Bulls).

However, after a competitive first half – with the visitors leading 14-12 at the break – the hosts turned the second half into a one-horse race.

Five unanswered tries saw the Irish province race clear and put daylight between then and their nearest rivals on the board.

Leinster (54 points) are at least two wins ahead of the Bulls (45) – who are unlikely to keep their second place as the rest of Round 13 plays out.

* To recap all the action, CLICK HERE!

The first three scrums all resulted in penalties to the Bulls. Add in a breakdown penalty and by the 15-minute mark the Bulls had a 6-0 lead through two Johan Goosen penalties.

It didn’t take the home team long to hit back – Jordan Larmour started an attack from a stray pass that Josh van der Flier finished. Harry Byrne added the conversion – 7-6.

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The Bulls suffered a further setback when World Cup-winning Springbok Marco van Staden left the field with a leg injury.

That was followed by hooker Rónan Kelleher getting a maul try, as the home team gave the visitors a taste of their own medicine. Byrne was wide of the mark with his conversion attempt – 12-6 on the half-hour mark.

The Bulls hit back through a Kurt-Lee Arendse try, started by a Goosen counterattack. The Bulls flyhalf was wide with his conversion attempt – 11-12.

To add insult to injury, the Leinster captain and scrumhalf Luke McGrath – who was taken off for a concussion test – was yellow carded for his dangerous attempt to tackle Arendse.

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Soon afterwards a breakdown penalty allowed Goosen to reclaim the lead – making it 14-12 to the visitors at the break.

Leinster started the second half with a series of raids on the Bulls line, before wing James Lowe sneaked over around the blind side. Byrne added the conversion – 19-14.

From the restart, Leinster countered from deep inside their half and some sublime interpassing eventually saw replacement Michael Milne getting the bonus-point try. The Byrne conversion made it 26-14 after 49 minutes.

The scrum penalties now started going against the Bulls, but the visitors won a penalty back at the next breakdown in what had become a brutal arm wrestle.

It did not help the Bulls that they continued to concede turnovers on attack – not respecting their possession enough.

Replacement hooker Dan Sheehan went over for the fifth try – a basic blindside move from a solid scrum. Ross Byrne, on for brother Harry, added the conversion for a 33-14 lead.

The Bulls compounded their issues with a litany of errors.

Jack Conan scored the sixth try, as the Bulls’ resistance evaporated. Byrne made it 40-14 with the conversion.

Arendse had a potential try reversed after the TMO found he had made contact with an opponent after attempting to flyhack a ball.

Liam Turner scored a seventh for the hosts, as the Bulls’ heads dropped. The Byrne conversion made it 47-14 – which is how it stayed to the end.

The scorers

For Leinster
Tries: Van der Flier, Kelleher, Lowe, Milne, Sheehan, Conan, Turner
Cons: H Byrne 3, R Byrne 3

For the Bulls
Try: Arendse
Pens: Goosen 3

Yellow card: Luke McGrath (Leinster, 35 – foul, high tackle)

Teams

Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Rob Russell, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Jamie Osborne, 11 James Lowe, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 Joe McCarthy, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Caelan Doris, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Liam Turner.

Bulls: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 David Kriel, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (cc), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Mpilo Gumede, 21 Izak Burger, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Harold Vorster.

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland) and Andy Fogarty (Ireland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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