Leinster give Bulls a big reality check
URC MATCH REPORT: Four-time European champions Leinster gave the Bulls a big reality check in Dublin on Saturday.
Outscoring the back-to-back Currie Cup Bulls champion Bulls by four tries to nil, the Irish province recorded a commanding 31-3 win in the opening round of the newly-Launched United Rugby Championship.
It was a rude awakening for the South African team, who was outclassed from beginning to end.
Leinster raced into a 17-0 lead after just 12 minutes.
Two forward tries – by Josh van der Flier (sixth minute) and Andrew Porter (12th minute) – with a Johnny Sexton penalty splitting them – saw the home team get off to the perfect start.
The Bulls finally opened their account, with a Johan Goosen penalty, in the 22nd minute.
Despite enjoying the bulk of the possession, the Bulls failed to add any additional points and Leinster held a 17-3 lead at the break.
In the early stages of the second half Leinster dominated both territory and possession, with replacement James Tracy getting the reward for a dominant period by his team with a powerful maul try.
Replacement flyhalf Ross Byrne put the seal on the big win – a well-worked try that he converted – for a 31-3 demolition.
* Did you miss the action? To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
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The loosening of the COVID-19 restrictions allowed a 75 percent capacity crowd and the Pro14 champions put their best foot forward against the Currie Cup winners.
Sexton’s fourth-minute penalty got Leinster up and running, with Goosen putting the kick-off out on the full and the Bulls quickly being pinged at the scrum and breakdown.
Some nice passing set up van der Flier to thunder over, breaking through a gap before bouncing off David Kriel’s attempted tackle to score.
A second seven-pointer followed in the 12th minute as the Bulls lost a line-out and Ciaran Frawley tapped back Sexton’s lobbed kick for Garry Ringrose to send prop Porter over from close range.
Just when the Bulls were building momentum, James Ryan stole a line-out and van der Flier forced a penalty.
The latter also denied Cornal Hendricks a try but Goosen’s simple 22nd-minute penalty opened the visitors’ account.
That try continued to elude the South Africans despite some impressive phases. Madosh Tambwe weaved over on the left but had his scored chalked off for a prior knock-on.
Into the second half, Leinster emerged scoreless from a promising early spell, James Lowe’s decision to take a quick tap ultimately coming to nothing.
They increased their lead in the 56th minute. The Bulls got fingertips to a line-out but Rhys Ruddock retrieved it and a well-directed maul put Tracy over before Sexton converted in his final act.
The Bulls’ last try-scoring chance was foiled by a double tackle on Elrigh Louw.
Leinster soon countered slickly from a kick, with Frawley the instigator and a pace-laden attack finished with Ringrose putting Byrne over on the left.
Man of the match: Leinster’s international backs – players like Garry Ringrose, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath and later replacements Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne – put their stamp on the game. In the pack players like James Ryan and Josh van der Flier also showed their international class. In our book the standout player was Leinster flank Rhys Ruddock – not only through his energetic performance and high workrate, but he won some crucial turnovers that thwarted a number of promising raids by the Bulls.
Tries: Van der Flier, Porter, Tracy, Byrne
Cons: Sexton 3, Byrne
For the Bulls
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Rory O’Loughlin, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ciarán Frawley, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 James Ryan, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Jamie Osborne
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (c), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Jacques du Plessis, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Daniel Carson (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)