Ahead of this Saturday’s British & Irish Cup quarter-final against London Welsh (Donnybrook, KO 7pm), catch up with the Leinster ‘A’ team’s exploits in the competition so far, which features a run of six wins from six in the pool stage.
Saturday, 14th November
Rotherham Titans 9 Leinster ‘A’ 12 (at Clifton Lane)
Leinster ‘A’ began their British & Irish Cup campaign with a trip away to Rotherham Titans, their second of the year after defeating the Championship side at Clifton Lane in the quarter-finals of last season’s competition (51-32).
The round one contest in November was a much closer affair than that knock-out fixture as the wind and rain took their toll on the contest.
A Ross Byrne drop goal in the 73rd minute secured the win for Leinster ‘A’, with Byrne also slotting a penalty earlier in the game and Steve Crosbie scoring twice from the tee.
Friday, 20th November
Leinster ‘A’ 55 Moseley RFC 12 (at Donnybrook)
“We know that if we can generate fast ball, and if we’re accurate in what we do, there is the opportunity to play with a bit of width and play with a bit of pace.” Those were the words of Leinster ‘A’ coach Hugh Hogan ahead of the game against Moseley at Donnybrook and his team were true to them.
The ‘A’ team ran in eight tries against Moseley, winning the game convincingly, 55-12.
Peter Dooley set the tone with a try in the opening three minutes, and this was followed by Dan Leavy’s first of the evening. The bonus point was secured after 17 minutes with efforts from Collie O’Shea and Adam Byrne both converted by Ross Byrne for a 26-0 lead.
Moseley responded with a try of their own, but Byrne tacked on a penalty for the ‘A’ team to give them a 29-7 half-time advantage.
In the second half, Dan Leavy crossed for his second, Charlie Rock got in on the action for the ‘A’ team’s sixth try, O’Shea got his second and Leinster’s seventh, and Mick McGrath nabbed the eighth.
Friday, 11th December
Leinster ‘A’ 45 Ealing Trailfinders 13 (at Donnybrook)
After a break in B&I Cup action, Leinster ‘A’ returned to Donnybrook to face Ealing Trailfinders.
The ‘A’ team faced Ealing home and away during the 2013/14 B&I Cup campaign, defeating them on both occasions.
The Championship side did not come to Donnybrook to roll over, however, putting in an impressive defensive display in the first half, holding the score at 6-6 until just before half-time. Peter Dooley scored the opening try two minutes before the break, with Cathal Marsh converting for a 13-6 lead.
The ‘A’ team struck early in the second half through Tadhg Beirne for their second try and the pattern continued for the rest of the game, with the bonus point secured by the 57th minute.
Darragh Fanning was on hand following Bryan Byrne’s powerful run to score the third try, and then turned provider as Collie O’Shea crossed to claim the bonus point. O’Shea followed this up two minutes later with his second try of the game to put Leinster 35-6 in front.
Further tries from Cian Kelleher and Royce Burke Flynn, either side of a try from Ealing’s Chris York, saw the game finish 45-13 in the ‘A’ team’s favour.
Saturday, 19th December
Ealing Trailfinders 10 Leinster ‘A’ 36 (at Vallis Way)
As the senior team geared up to face Toulon in Aviva Stadium, the ‘A’ team were in action over in London in the second of their back-to-back games against Ealing.
Dan Leavy added to his tally of two tries in the competition with a hat-trick at Vallis Way (it looks as though this try-scoring form has carried over into the senior team as well with Leavy bagging tries against Zebre and Ospreys in recent weeks).
There were also tries on the day for Adam Byrne and Cathal Marsh, with the St Mary’s out-half also kicking 11 points for a 36-10 victory.
Saturday, 16th January
Moseley RFC 24 Leinster ‘A’ 49 (at Billesley Common)
Heading into their away tie against Moseley, the ‘A’ team knew victory in Birmingham would guarantee them a place in the B&I Cup quarter-finals.
They started strongly with Dan Leavy scoring his sixth try of the campaign after a powerful lineout drive from the Leinster forwards. They then repeated the trick in the 7th minute with Bryan Byrne on hand to dot down.
Adam Byrne finished a sweeping move after a break from Steve Crosbie put the ‘A’ team on the front foot, before Leavy got his second of the game to secure a fourth bonus point in five games.
In fact, Leavy made it two hat-tricks in two games after Adam Byrne connected with Marsh’s crossfield kick and offloaded to the flanker who finished the move.
Oisin Heffernan was the next to score from a driving lineout maul, and Steve Crosbie finished the scoring for Leinster ‘A’ with a try of his own in the final minutes.
Crucially for Moseley they claimed a try bonus when Drew Cheshire collected a loose ball in his own half and sprinted 60 metres to the line for their fourth of the game.
Friday, 22nd January
Leinster ‘A’ 43 Rotherham Titans 24 (at Donnybrook)
With quarter-final qualification secured, Leinster ‘A’ went into their final pool game looking to advance as the competition’s number one seeds.
Supporters had barely taken their seats when Nick McCarthy scored the opening try with just 30 seconds on the clock after some sharp running from Steve Crosbie. Crosbie landed the conversion and knocked over a penalty for a 10-0 lead with five minutes gone.
Rotherham replied with a converted try of their own and were putting the ‘A’ team under some pressure before Mick McGrath scored a breakaway try. But the Titans stayed in touch with their second try before half-time, scoring from a lineout maul.
The sides continued to trade blows in the second half. Bryan Byrne made one of his, by now, trademark runs through a gap in the opposition defence. He was stopped short of the line but Crosbie was there to finish the move, Joey Carbery adding the extras.
Leinster soon had their bonus point try through Cian Kelleher after Rotherham had responded with their third of the day.
As with Moseley the previous week, Rotherham took a try bonus point from the game, but the scoring didn’t end there. Darragh Fanning scored Leinster’s fifth 12 minutes from time, and then sent Mick McGrath over for his second of the game. Carbery converted to bring a thrilling contest to a close.
Leinster ‘A’ face London Welsh in the British & Irish Cup quarter-finals at Donnybrook on Saturday (KO 7pm). Tickets are on sale now from €;10.
Tickets can also be purchased on the gate from €;10 for adults and €;5 for under-18s. Season Ticket holders can attend the game for free when they show their Season Ticket card at the gate.
Leinster ‘A’ – British & Irish Cup – Top Try Scorers
8 – Dan Leavy (currently the competition’s leading try scorer)
4 – Mick McGrath, Colm O’Shea
3 – Adam Byrne
2 – Steve Crosbie, Peter Dooley, Darragh Fanning, Cian Kelleher
1 – Tadhg Beirne, Royce Burke Flynn, Bryan Byrne, Oisin Heffernan, Nick McCarthy, Charlie Rock