Leinster ‘A’ made an ideal start to their British & Irish Cup campaign at Donnybrook as they ran seven tries past a spirited but ultimately overwhelmed Leeds Carnegie outfit…
It was the Yorkshiremen who drew first blood in this contest, as out-half Joe Ford split the Leinster ‘A’ posts with a penalty from 30 metres in the opening moments.
It did not take long for the hosts to settle into their groove, however, and they crossed the whitewash for the first time six minutes in when flanker Jordan Coghlan finished off a fine move that was the instigated by incisive running from deep by full-back Darren Hudson.
Clontarf’s Noel Reid was off target with the subsequent conversion, but Leinster ‘A’ had firmly settled into the proceedings and looked set to push on for further scores.
The Leeds rearguard were performing well in the difficult conditions – there was a massive downpour at the start of the game – but Colin McEntee’s charges were always able to step up a gear when required.
They got through for a try in the right corner courtesy of centre Brendan Macken on 26 minutes, via more excellent approach work by the influential Hudson.
Reid was narrowly wide of the mark once more with his conversion, but he eventually opened his account on the half hour mark, cancelling out a Ford three-pointer with one of his own from the left wing.
With the interval fast approaching, Leinster ‘A’ started to spot gaps in the Leeds 22, and Jack Conan joined his back row colleague Coghlan on the scoresheet when he drove over the line with three first half minutes remaining.
Reid easily added the extras and he closed out the scoring in the opening period with a penalty deep into stoppage time, giving Leinster ‘A’ a 23-6 interval lead.
This scoring burst before the break meant there was less pressure on Leinster ‘A’ upon the resumption, and they maintained their momentum by racing through for their fourth and fifth tries within five minutes of the restart.
Both Sam Coghlan Murray and Hudson benefited from the strong running of their team-mates to touch down on the left hand side, securing the bonus point in the process.
With 29 points separating the two teams at this stage, Leinster ‘A’ boss McEntee dipped into his resources and introduced the likes of Fionn Carr, Jordi Murphy and Isaac Boss (who were all unused replacements in Leinster’s Heineken Cup clash with Exeter Chiefs earlier today).
The changes did not have any adverse effect on the tempo of the province’s play though. Another five-pointer arrived 12 minutes into the half, this time from powerful number 8 Leo Auva’a.
The dependable Reid converted on this occasion as Leinster ‘A’ put down a marker for their future rivals in this season’s competition.
Credit must go to Leeds though, as they kept trying to the very end and got the try that their industry deserved on 59 minutes when replacement Richard Beck drove over from an enterprising maul towards the home line.
Leeds replacement hooker Joe Graham also touched down for a converted try deep into stoppage time.
But that was in response to a seventh Leinster ‘A’ try with ten minutes to go as Murphy and Carr combined for the latter to get in on the right, completing a comprehensive victory for the hosts.
LEINSTER ‘A’ SCORERS: J. Coghlan (1 try), B. Macken (1 try), J. Conan (1 try), S. Coghlan Murray (1 try), D. Hudson (1 try), L. Auva’a (1 try), F. Carr (1 try), N. Reid (3 conversions and 2 penalties)
LEEDS CARNEGIE SCORERS: R. Beck (1 try), J. Graham (1 try), J. Ford (1 conversion and 2 penalties)
15: Darren Hudson
14: Andrew Boyle (Fionn Carr, 49)
13: Brendan Macken
12: Collie O’Shea (Cathal Marsh, 46),
11: Sam Coghlan Murray
10: Noel Reid
9: John Cooney (Isaac Boss, 49)
1: Jack O’Connell
2: Thomas Sexton (James Tracy, 71)
3: Jack McGrath CAPTAIN (Tadhg Furlong, 49)
4: Tom Denton (Tadhg Beirne, 71)
5: Ben Marshall
6: Jack Conan (Jordi Murphy, 49)
7: Jordan Coghlan
8: Leo Auva’a
LEEDS CARNEGIE: Stevie McColl CAPTAIN; Curtis Wilson, Christian Georgiou, Joe Barker, Jamel Chisholm; Joe Ford, Craig Hampson; Ben Harris, Harry Hannan, Damien Tussac, Matt Smith, Dan Hemingway, Dominic Barrow, Chris Walker, Rob Baldwin.
REPLACEMENTS: Joe Graham, Lee Imiolek, Mark Tampin, Calum Green, Richard Beck, James Doherty, Fred Burdon.
REFEREE: Jason Bessant (WRU)