Leinster ease past Cardiff to maintain unbeaten run
URC REPORT: Luke McGrath scored two of Leinster’s six tries as they made it 13 wins out of 13 United Rugby Championship games with a 38-14 win over Cardiff at the RDS.
McGrath scored two tries in a 10-minute spell, adding to Max Deegan’s opener, as Leo Cullen’s much-changed side led 19-0 at half-time.
Cardiff struggled to get going in greasy conditions, a Jason Harries yellow card being swiftly followed by Brian Deeny’s 49th-minute bonus-point score.
Cardiff had two late scores from replacements Rory Thornton and Kristian Dacey, in response to a Max O’Reilly effort, but the hosts had the final say when Liam Turner capitalised on a loose pass from Ellis Bevan.
Despite the returning Rey Lee-Lo landing a thumping tackle on Harry Byrne, Leinster took a sixth-minute lead through their industrious forwards.
Having been held up short moments later, No.8 Deegan powered over for an unconverted try following John McKee’s tapped penalty and an inviting pass from Scott Penny.
McKee and Deegan again gained ground, midway through the first half, before a slick penalty move saw Byrne release McGrath to make it 12-0.
A Jarrod Evans spill spoiled a promising attack for Cardiff, while their pillar defence went missing when McGrath sniped over from a 29th-minute ruck. Byrne converted.
Turner’s barnstorming break – off a Ben Brownlee offload – kept Leinster on the front foot in the second half, and further pressure saw Cardiff wing Harries binned for a deliberate knock-on.
Lock Deeny then drove over with support from Deegan, Byrne’s conversion widening the margin to 26 points. James Botham was busy at the breakdown for Cardiff but for little reward.
Instead, Leinster went further in front before the hour mark, Chris Cosgrave’s looping pass putting fellow Academy back O’Reilly over in the right corner.
Cardiff finally built momentum off a Harries run, and from a subsequent penalty, Botham was hauled down short before Thornton plunged over for Evans to convert.
Corey Domachowski’s eye-catching break led to a close-range seven-pointer from Dacey, yet a sidestepping Turner took Leinster’s try haul to six. Replacement Charlie Tector converted for his first points at this level.
Tries: Deegan, McGrath 2, Deeney, O’Reilly, Turner
Cons: Byrne 3, Tector
Tries: Thornton, Dacey
Cons: Evans 2
Yellow card: Jason Harries (Cardiff, 47′ cynical play, deliberate knock-on)
Leinster: 15 Chris Cosgrave, 14 Max O’Reilly, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Ben Brownlee, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 Brian Deeny, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 John McKee, 1 Michael Milne
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Marcus Hanan, 18 Thomas Clarkson, 19 James Culhane, 20 Will Connors, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Charlie Tector, 23 Aitzol King
Cardiff: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Aled Summerhill, 23 Matthew Morgan
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ireland), Andrew Fogarty (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)