Jersey 12 v 16 Leinster ‘A’
December 8, 2012 / jmcconnell
Leinster ‘A’ erased an interval deficit at St. Peter’s as they came from behind to beat a gritty Jersey side in Saturday’s British & Irish Cup Pool 5 encounter…Colin McEntee post-match reaction…
Leinster 'A' made the necessary improvements after the break as unconverted tries from back rowers Leo Auva'a and Rhys Ruddock helped them to their second win in three pool matches.
Leinster ‘A’ fell behind in the opening minutes, a scrum decision going against them and Mike Le Bourgeois landed the resulting penalty.
Strong carries from Ben Marshall and the returning Dominic Ryan saw the visitors build towards the Jersey 22, however Noel Reid pulled a kickable penalty wide.
A well-struck right-footed effort from Le Bourgeois doubled Jersey’s lead, rewarding his forwards for a second solid scrum.
On the quarter hour mark, the Islanders’ number 10 suffered his first penalty miss as Leinster ‘A’ remained on the defensive and without a platform of possession.
Another penalty concession proved costly as Le Bourgeois kicked Jersey 9-0 clear in the 18th minute, the darkening sky leading to the floodlights being flicked on.
Five minutes later, a powerful burst from flanker Ryan resulted in a central penalty which Reid did well to convert from the 10-metre line.
Jersey’s forward strength repelled a promising Leinster ‘A’ attack, and the game was then held up as home lock Dave Markham was taken off with a neck injury.
Welsh referee Simon Rees had a word with Jamie Hagan after the Leinster ‘A’ front row infringed again, and Le Bourgeois smacked over his fourth successful kick.
Closing in on half-time, Reid replied with a smartly-hit penalty for 12-6 as Colin McEntee’s charges began to make inroads.
Auva’a led a swift break down the blindside and on the cusp of half-time, the powerful number 8 was held up following a drive from a lineout.
Better continuity launched Leinster ‘A’ forward at the start of the second half with Auva’a, Brendan Macken and captain Ruddock all making good yardage.
Adam Byrne sparked a fine kick chase which almost led to the opening try, but Ed Dawson did well to cover the danger and keep Jersey’s try-line intact.
The Jersey defence could not hold out though, the visitors probing from the resulting scrum and Auva’a duly crashed over to the right of the posts. Reid was unable to convert, leaving Jersey a point clear.
It was clear that Leinster ‘A’ now had the upper hand, stretching the Jersey defence with a spell of hard running and quick, accurate passing that got Jordan Coghlan, Byrne and Andrew Boyle involved.
Le Bourgeois’ restart kick did not go the requisite distance and the visitors were soon over for their second try, skipper Ruddock making it over in the corner in the 54th minute.
Jersey missed an opportunity to reply as Le Bourgeois dropped a long range penalty short of the target, much to the disappointment of the majority of the 1,766-strong crowd.
It was a stop-start final quarter as injuries and substitutions broke up the momentum. Martin Moore, Conor Gilsenan and Tom Sexton were added to the province’s pack.
It took some stout defending from McEntee's side to keep Jersey tryless. They ended the game down to 14 men after Ryan was picked out for an offence close to the visitors' whitewash.
But Leinster 'A' hung on for a four-point triumph which keeps them on track to reach the competition's knockout stages.
Head coach Colin McEntee was pleased to come out on the right side of a tight result, telling BBC Radio Jersey: "It was a tough, ding dong battle. It could have gone either way
"Jersey got off to a good start. It was important for us to get the first score after half-time and we did thankfully. It was two heavyweights battling it out and it was a good contest.
"Jersey, to their credit, have a very strong pack. We needed to move them around and not get involved in an arm wrestle.
"We endeavoured to move the ball into space and be patient, which we hadn't been in the first half. It’s just half-time really, there’s a lot more rugby to be played next week."
Leinster 'A' will lock horns with Jersey in the return fixture at Donnybrook on Sunday week (kick-off 2.30pm). They currently hold a four-point lead at the top of the pool ahead of tomorrow's meeting of Leeds Carnegie and Pontypridd.
Referee: Simon Rees (WRU)
REPLACEMENTS USED: Rob Anderson for Markham (27 mins), Eoghan Nihill for Silcock, Graham Bell for Thompson (both 55), Chris Levesley for Stelling, James Gethings for Brennan (both 64), Richard Barrington for McCarthy (67), Brendan O'Brien for McCormack (78).
REPLACEMENTS USED: Tom Daly for Boyle, Tadhg Beirne for Denton (both 51 mins), Martin Moore for Hagan (60), Conor Gilsenan for Marshall (62), Luke McGrath for Cooney, Tom Sexton for Dundon (both 67). Not used: Steve Crosbie.