Match Report: Leinster ‘A’ 50 Scarlets ‘A’ 12
August 31, 2019 / Dave Mervyn
Leinster Rugby ‘A’ continued their quest for back-to-back Celtic Cup titles with a comprehensive 50-12 bonus point victory over Scarlets ‘A’ at Energia Park this evening.
Wingers Jack Kelly and Niall Comerford bagged two tries apiece during the second round tie, while Mark Hernan, Michael Milne, Paddy McKenzie and Ronan Foley also crossed the whitewash.
Following last weekend’s 47-28 win in Cardiff, Noel McNamara’s young side were determined to maintain their winning form on home soil. With the province’s senior coaches, including Leo Cullen, watching on, Leinster ‘A’ quickly put their Scarlets counterparts on the back foot.
Hooker and captain Ronan Kelleher almost got over for a try in the third minute, but the Welsh team scrambled just in time. Yet, quick recycling and a shift of direction over to the far left side saw half-backs Patrick Patterson and Harry Byrne open up space for winger Kelly to touch down in fine style.
Ireland Under-20 star Byrne converted and was back on the kicking tee within a matter of minutes. Another enterprising attack led to flanker Hernan powering over the line with Byrne’s kick making it 14-0.
The impressive out-half is one of several Leinster players who have featured under McNamara at U-20 international level and there was a general cohesion to the way they were going about their business. Scarlets ‘A’ started to tighten up in defence as the first half wore on, and they were able to force Leinster ‘A’ into some handling errors.
Nonetheless, the hosts continued to dominate the ball and another try arrived in the 24th minute. After a succession of five-metre drives failed to pay dividends, Byrne’s audacious pass left Comerford with a straightforward finish in the right corner.
A supremely-confident Byrne booted a superb touchline strike as Leinster ‘A’ moved within reach of another try-scoring bonus point. Disappointingly, Kelleher had to go off with an injury soon after and Dan Sheehan replaced him. In the skipper’s absence, his team-mates remained in the driving seat up to half-time.
21-0 became 28-0 within a minute of the restart as McKenzie, Byrne’s replacement at out-half, helped the province to tear out of the blocks again. It was Milne, the former Cistercian College Roscrea forward, who applied the finishing touches to the bonus point score.
Scarlets ‘A’ hit back five minutes later, using a lineout on the left to build momentum and openside Joseph Miles managed to touch down at the back of the well-worked maul. Wicklow native McKenzie soon marked his lively cameo with a try, squeezing over to the right of the posts for a five-pointer.
The Welshmen, who suffered a late loss to Ulster ‘A’ last week, raised their hopes of taking something out of their Dublin trip when full-back Kallum Evans broke free for an outstanding individual try on the hour mark. Replacement Ioan Hughes landed the conversion for a 33-12 scoreline.
However, Leinster ‘A’ made sure to finish with a flourish in their first home game of the campaign. Outside centre Gavin Mullin went agonisingly close to scoring at the end of a lung-busting run with 15 minutes remaining.
Scrum half Patterson reacted quickest at the breakdown and released Foley for a simple burst through a gap for the sixth try. A late surge produced two more tries for Comerford and Kelly in the space of 60 seconds, with the sort of clinical attacking that will be needed in next Friday’s crunch clash with Munster ‘A’ in Cork.
REFEREE: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)
TRIES: Niall Comerford 2, Jack Kelly 2, Mark Hernan, Michael Milne, Paddy McKenzie, Ronan Foley; CONS: Harry Byrne 3, Paddy McKenzie 2
TRIES: Joseph Miles, Kallum Evans; CON: Ioan Hughes
Hugo Keenan; Niall Comerford, Gavin Mullin, Liam Turner, Jack Kelly; Harry Byrne, Paddy Patterson; Michael Milne, Ronan Kelleher CAPTAIN, Jack Aungier, Cian Prendergast, Oisin Dowling, Martin Moloney, Mark Hernan, Ronan Foley.
REPLACEMENTS USED: Dan Sheehan for Kelleher (25 mins), Paddy McKenzie for Byrne (half-time), Sean O'Brien for Prendergast (50), Cormac Foley for Patterson (52), Ronan Watters for Hernan (66), Charlie Ward for Aungier, Adam La Grue for Mullin (both 68), Harry Noonan for Milne (72).
Kallum Evans; Tomi Lewis, Osian Knott, Rhodri Jones, Harri Doel; Jac Wilson, Efan Jones; Steff Thomas, Shaun Evans CAPTAIN, Alex Jeffries, Robin Williams, Osian Davies, Lewys Millin, Joseph Miles, Stuart Worrel.
REPLACEMENTS USED: Dom Booth for S Evans (half-time), Ryan Davies for Knott (43 mins), Ioan Hughes for Wilson, Jac Morgan for Davies (both 48), Dafydd Land for E Jones (50), Kemsley Mathias for Thomas, Llyr Green for Jeffries (both 58), Gethin Davies for Millin (72).