Kelleher hat-trick inspires Leinster
PRO14 WRAP: Ronan Kelleher’s hat-trick helped Leinster continue their imposing start to the season, thanks to an eight-try, 53-5 showing over Ospreys.
* In the other Friday match three tries in a six-minute blitz and backs-to-the-wall defending set up an eyebrow-raising victory for Scarlets in a thriller at Glasgow Warriors.
We look at Friday’s matches!
Leinster 53-5 Ospreys
Ronan Kelleher’s hat-trick helped Leinster continue their imposing start to the Pro14 season thanks to an eight-try, 53-5 showing over Ospreys.
Hooker Kelleher enjoyed a dream evening at the RDS Arena to bag his first three tries in senior rugby, with Fergus McFadden and Joe Tomane also scoring in the first-half.
Max Deegan, Harry Byrne and Michael Milne also dotted down for a Leinster side potent in attack and resolute in defence, with Ospreys struggling to get a foothold en route to their second defeat of the season.
Leinster made the early inroads and took a deserved lead thanks to a Ross Byrne penalty, with the fly half then vital in helping the hosts pick up their first RDS Arena score of the season.
His pinpoint cross-field kick found McFadden who had the simple task of spinning and dotting down with just ten minutes on the clock.
Still there was more to come in Leinster’s opening salvo, Will Connors bursting through a gap in the Ospreys defence and sending hooker Kelleher through for his first try in the Pro14.
Ospreys got a foothold in the game but couldn’t convert it into points, Leinster taking a 22-0 lead into the break after Tomane profited from gaps in the visiting backline to pile over in the corner.
Barely minutes had passed in the second half and the bonus point was secured, with Kelleher and his pack working hard to pounce on a loose ball and scramble his way over the whitewash.
With sharp attack and solid defence, Leinster weren’t letting up in their opening home game – bagging their fifth try with 50 minutes on the clock.
Kelleher was once again the man of the moment to secure his hat-trick but he had his team to thank, the maul working to perfection to sling the hooker over the line to make it 34-0.
His night was done just a minute later but Leinster were far from finished, replacement Deegan scoring the sixth within minutes of coming onto the pitch.
Harry Byrne then picked up the seventh and Michael Milne took the score into the fifties with his charge through the defence.
Ospreys were on the board when Matthew Aubrey took a quick attacking line-out to leave Luke Morgan to race over for the try, but it proved just consolation to Leinster’s emphatic Pro14 display.
Scoring your first senior try is always a memorable moment but Ronan Kelleher had something of a dream against the Ospreys – scoring a wonderful hat-trick to pave the way for a comfortable victory.
The first was the most impressive of the three, playing a superb supporting role to fellow forward Connors to charge over the line from 45 metres out.
The two to follow were far from shabby either, doubling up his tally and securing Leinster’s bonus-point in the process after the pack put pressure on the Ospreys defence, with Kelleher the man to profit and pounce on the loose ball to charge over.
What followed was little short of a front row’s dream, the pack working superbly in the maul to sling the 21-year-old to an unforgettable hat-trick.
They all came with 50 minutes on the clock and by within two minutes his night was over, a rapturous applause marking his substitution and his final contribution to an impressive outing.
Heading into the closing stages and with the result wrapped up, you could forgive Leinster for taking their foot off the gas.
But there was no thoughts of easing off for Harry Byrne, marking his first appearance at the RDS Arena with an impressive try.
Quick ball in attack made the play possible but it was the replacement’s drive and determination to burst through two Ospreys defenders that earned the five points.
Tries: McFadden, Kelleher 3, Tomane, Deegan, Byrne, Milne
Cons: R Byrne 4, H Byrne
Pen: R Byrne
Yellow card: Cai Evans (Ospreys, 75)
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Will Connors, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Vakh Abdaladze, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Conor O’Brien.
Ospreys: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Luke Price, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Lloyd Ashley, 4 Dan Lydiate (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Ben Glynn, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Tom Williams, 23 Hanno Dirksen.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffkin (Ireland), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Glasgow Warriors 21-25 Scarlets
Three tries in a six-minute blitz and backs-to-the-wall defending set up an eyebrow-raising victory for Scarlets in a thriller at Glasgow Warriors.
In a tight and tense match, the Welsh region hit the accelerator early in the second half as Kieran Hardy, Paul Asquith and Steff Evans all crossed for the visitors to take the wind out of Warriors’ sails.
Brandon Thomson and Stafford McDowall hit back for the hosts and reduced the gap to four points but they could not repair the damage, falling to their second defeat from two games this season.
Following last week’s humbling at the hands of Toyota Cheetahs, Glasgow were always going to fly out of the gates in Scotstoun and they attacked with gusto from the first whistle.
However, in the Scarlets they found a defence up to the challenge and the Welsh side battled through a turbulent 10 minutes, conceding just a Brandon Thomson penalty.
The Welsh side – who look so composed in their opening-day win against Connacht – passed the early test before gaining a foothold and bossing much of the half.
However, like the Warriors, they could not turn territory into points, with wing Tom James knocking on just as he was about to cross for a try.
Dan Jones kicked two penalties, while Thomson added another, as the two sides went in level at the break but the Scarlets took the initiative early in the second half.
Thomson had kicked Glasgow 9-6 up but a poor cross-field kick from full-back Ruaridh Jackson was intercepted by James on the right wing.
A couple of quick passes later and scrum-half Hardy was racing through to slide in under the posts in a move which turned the match on its head.
With momentum on their side and an opponent still winded by Hardy’s gut punch, Scarlets went for the jugular and found it with unnerving accuracy.
Asquith crossed from close enrage a couple of minutes later following a fine run by full-back Johnny McNicholl, before wing Steff Evans raced onto his own kick and dotted down in the left corner.
Glasgow hit back when Thomson crossed in the 64th minute to close the gap to nine points before Scarlets’ Angus O’Brien missed a kickable penalty which only heightened the tension.
Glasgow upped the tempo and grabbed a second try six minutes from time, Huw Jones’ incredible off-load setting up Stafford McDowall to score from a metre out.
Thomson missed the conversion, leaving Glasgow four points short. So they ran from their own 22 at the re-start and charged up the other end.
They made their way to the Scarlets’ five-metre line but the Welsh side turned the ball over as the clock went red and held on.
There were a number of contenders here. McNicholl was dangerous with ball-in-hand for the Scarlets while Huw Jones’ off-load merits an award all on its own.
But Steff Evans’ magic try ultimately proved decisive and he once again showed just why he is regarded as one of the Pro14’s finest wings.
At 25-16 down, Glasgow were desperate to gain a foothold and that meant taking more risks. Luckily, it paid off handsomely.
Replacement forward Chris Fusaro muscled his way into space down the left and slipped the ball to Huw Jones, who sprinted for the corner.
Scarlets thought they had him covered and James made a tackle, carrying him into touch. But Jones was too quick, flicking the ball back inside just in time for the waiting McDowell to touch down.
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Thomson, MacDowell
Pens: Thomson 3
Tries: Hardy, Asquith, Evans
Cons: Jones, O’Brien
Pens: Jones 2
Yellow card: Josh Macleod (Scarlets, 79)
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (captain), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Kiran McDonald, 3 D’arcy Rae, 2 Grant Stewart, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Tom Gordon, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Paddy Kelly, 23 Glenn Bryce.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom James, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Tom Phillips, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Corey Baldwin.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ben Blain (Scotland), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)