Leinster hits another half-ton
PRO14 REPORT: Leinster hit 50 for the second match in succession, as nine tries saw them emerge from Newport with a dominant 59-10 victory over the Dragons.
The win takes them further clear of second place Scarlets in Conference B, after their Irish rivals had downed Edinburgh on Friday.
Dragons couldn’t build on a strong showing against Edinburgh last weekend as they struggled to contain their opponents, who at times proved indefatigable at Rodney Parade.
While it was the Dragons who showed early intent, backed up with good ball, it was Leinster who struck first.
The Irish side won the ball back when Jason Tovey threw a wild pass on halfway, making ground before Ross Byrne sent an inch-perfect kick diagonally across the field to find Dave Kearney, who welcomed the ball with open arms to dot down in the corner.
Dragons escaped conceding a second when Lewis Evans prevented Leinster from downing the ball in the same corner and was sent to the bin for his troubles after he was adjudged to have done so illegally.
But their reprieve was short-lived as, from the resulting line-out, Scott Penny drove over a depleted Dragons line, with Byrne adding the extras to give the visitors an early 14-point buffer.
Leinster had their third when Scott Fardy once more capitalised on his side’s man advantage, lurking out wide after the visitors had drawn men into the middle of the park, with Jamison Gibson-Park looping a pass back across to the Australian to score in the corner.
The reigning champions thought they had the bonus point wrapped up as Caelan Doris was quick to spot a gap in the Dragons line at the ruck before diving over, but referee Lloyd Linton spotted that the back row forward had stepped offside in the build-up.
Dragons had a golden chance to reduce arrears when Richard Williams stole a Leinster line-out but was held up, and the hosts couldn’t capitalise from the resulting scrum when they turned the ball over with half-time beckoning.
But it was Leinster who emerged from the dressing room with the bit between their teeth, notching their bonus point with a score almost identical to their first: Byrne’s kick again gathered by a wide-open Kearney who grabbed his second of the night.
Dragons got themselves a foothold when Rhodri Williams dashed over after Harri Keddie had broken the Leinster line, and the home crowd had hope.
But Leinster restored their lead when Doris crashed over the whitewash after the Irish side showed incessant desire at the breakdown, recycling the ball with an impressive sense of urgency to set up the no. 8.
And they proceeded to blitz the Dragons with three quickfire tries: Hugo Keenan made it six for the Guinness PRO14 reigning champions, collecting a deft chip from Byrne to scoot in under the posts.
Bryan Byrne then showed good hands to take Gibson-Park’s offload to dive over for the seventh, and Jimmy O’Brien added an eighth after a strong driving maul from a five-metre line-out.
O’Brien capped things off with Leinster’s ninth of the night, sliding over in the corner after the Irish side had forced an overlap out wide.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) December 1, 2018
For the Dragons:
Tries: Kearney 2, Penny, Fardy, Doris, Keenan, Byrne, O’Brien 2
Cons: Byrne 5, Frawley 2
Yellow card: Lewis Evans (Dragons, 12)
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jarryd Sage, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Aaron Wainwright, 6 Harrison Keddie, 5 Lewis Evans, 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Richard Hibbard (captain), 1 Ryan Bevington .
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Adam Warren.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Jimmy O’Brien, 12 Conor O’Brien, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Tom Daly.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Dewi Phillips (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)