Leinster ‘A’ 44 v 13 Jersey
December 16, 2012 / jmcconnell
Leinster ‘A’ moved back to the top of British & Irish Cup Pool 5 in spectacular fashion as they ran eight tries past Jersey at Donnybrook on Sunday afternoon…
Having come away with a narrow 16-12 victory at St. Peter's last weekend, this had the makings of another tough test for Leinster 'A'.
But after some tight opening exchanges, Colin McEntee's men started to find some space and back rowers Dominic Ryan and Leo Auva'a both went close to touching down to the right of the posts.
Leinster 'A' were starting to get a grip in the possession stakes though, and following a sharp delivery from a scrum in the middle of the pitch by scrum half John Cooney, winger Adam Byrne was put through in the right corner at the end of a fine team move.
Out-half Noel Reid was marginally off target with the resulting conversion deep on the right touchline, but he made no mistake with a 30-metre penalty three minutes later as the Blues increased their cushion to eight points.
Jersey finally opened their account from the subsequent attack with a routine penalty from Barry Davies.
But even though the men from the Channel Islands looked like they were about to create inroads into the Leinster 'A' defence, they once again found their defence being breached. Brendan Macken waltzed his way through a number of tackles before crossing over on the left flank 24 minutes in.
Reid was desperately unfortunate to see another tricky bonus kick come crashing off the crossbar and away to safety.
The English Championship outfit's reliable number 10 Davies then landed his second penalty of the afternoon from close range with 12 minutes of the opening period remaining.
However, despite reducing the gap, Leinster 'A' remained on the front foot for the remainder of the half, and they eventually registered their third five-pointer by the 40-minute mark.
A professional foul by Davies on Macken as he burst towards the whitewash led to a penalty try for the home side – and a sin-binning for the former Welsh international – converted with ease by Reid.
This meant that McEntee's charges had 14 points to spare (20-6) to spare over Jersey heading into the second half, which left the visitors with a mountain to climb upon the resumption.
Any chance they had of forming a remarkable comeback all but vanished two minutes after the restart when Auva'a repeated his try-scoring heroics from the previous round with the home side's fourth try courtesy of an excellent offload by the impressive Ryan.
This effectively killed off the game as a contest, and Leinster 'A' opened up a 31-point gap by the 54th minute thanks to further tries from Ryan and Byrne, with the latter squeezing through for his second score on the right just before he could be forced into touch.
The floodgates had well and truly been opened by this point and despite utilising their replacements significantly in the closing 25 minutes, Leinster 'A' maintained their momentum.
Leinster 'A' recorded a seventh try with 16 minutes to go when Conor Gilsenan drove over underneath the posts moments after being introduced for Rhys Ruddock on the blindside.
Reid's third conversion put further daylight between the teams, but Jersey did secure some form of consolation when replacement scrum half Brendan O'Brien – a Limerick-born former Garryowen and Wanderers clubman – touched down to the right of the posts for a 71st minute try converted by Davies.
This proved to be the last meaningful piece of the action however, as Leinster 'A' cruised to a bonus point success.
The result moves the province back to the top of the table in the process, ahead of Pontypridd thanks to their superior scoring difference.
Referee: Rhys Thomas (WRU)
Replacements used: Tadhg Beirne for Denton (49 mins), Tom Sexton for Dundon (51), Jack O'Connell for Moore (56), Jordan Coghlan for O'Malley, Cathal Marsh for Carr, Conor Gilsenan for Ruddock (all 63), Luke McGrath for Reid (66).
Replacements: Jon Brennan, Charlie Clare, Paul Rodgers, Eoghan Nihill, Max Stelling, Dai Bishop, Brendan O'Brien.