Sat 4 Dec 2021 | 08:52

Leinster bounce back to smash Connacht

Leinster bounce back to smash Connacht
Sat 4 Dec 2021 | 08:52
Leinster bounce back to smash Connacht
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URC MATCH REPORT: Leinster overcame a fast-starting Connacht to claim a 47-19 United Rugby Championship derby win at the RDS Arena.

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Dan Sheehan’s superb sidestepping try on the stroke of half-time gave Leinster a 19-12 lead. The Westerners led twice through scores from Mack Hansen and Sam Arnold.

Beaten by Ulster last week, Leo Cullen’s men opened their try account through Rhys Ruddock and Garry Ringrose, and Jordan Larmour added the fourth just after the restart.

Caelan Doris, Ryan Baird and replacement Max Deegan completed Leinster’s seven-try haul – the latter one cancelling out a Conor Oliver effort – with the result a timely boost for the Blues heading into Europe next week.

The hosts, who brought 10 Ireland internationals back into their squad, looked to strike early, yet the sheer pace of Connacht’s attack soon saw them making inroads.

Armed with a penalty advantage, Jack Carty’s cross-field kick was brilliantly fielded by Hansen for an unconverted 13th-minute try.

Leinster’s forwards built some pressure off penalties before flank Ruddock burrowed over. Harry Byrne converted to make it 7-5.

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After two near misses for Connacht, including no clear grounding of a possible Oran McNulty try, a fluid 28th-minute attack ended with Carty’s slick pass putting Arnold over.

Nonetheless, Ringrose then reached out to score after nice hands from Josh Van Der Flier and Michael Ala’alatoa, with Byrne converting.

Sheehan squeezed in a stunning late try, his ability to sidestep around the in-form Hansen leaving the home crowd in awe.

It was the game’s turning point, a picture-perfect backline move off a line-out sending Larmour over for a 41st-minute bonus-point try, converted by Byrne.

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Doris, the end-of-year Player of the Series, soon got in on the act, driving over from a close-in ruck. Byrne’s extras left Connacht trailing 33-12.

Baird used his long frame to score on the hour mark, before a smashing play off a line-out had Hansen haring through to send Oliver over for seven points beside the posts.

Leinster signed off with a sweeping 74th-minute breakaway, led by Tommy O’Brien, as Deegan crashed over from Nick McCarthy’s nifty offload. Fellow replacement Ross Byrne converted.

Player of the match

Carty, Ultan Dillane and Oliver did a lot of good work for Connacht, but Leinster hit another gear either side of the interval.

A granite-like Josh van der Flier was at his all-action best, deservedly picking up the URC Player of the Match award.

Andrew Porter also impressed with his cameo off the bench.

Play of the match

Recent Ireland debutant Sheehan stung Connacht with a top-class try just before the break.

Released by Harry Byrne near Connacht’s 10-metre line, he gobbled up the space in front of him, showing the feet and pace of a winger as he jinked around Hansen and accelerated away to the line.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Ruddock, Ringrose, Sheehan, Larmour, Doris, Baird, Deegan
Cons: H Byrne 5, R Byrne

For Connacht:
Tries: Hansen, Arnold, Oliver
Cons: Carty 2

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Vakh Abdaladze, 19 Josh Murphy, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Tommy O’Brien.

Connacht: 15 Oran McNulty, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Ultan Dillane, 4 Oisín Dowling, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Matthew Burke.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Cian Prendergast, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Tom Farrell.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Oisin Quinn (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

@URCOfficial

PV: 6
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