Sam Coghlan Murray, Ben Marshall and Cian Kelleher all crossed the whitewash as Leinster ‘A’ began their British & Irish Cup title defence with a 31-24 win away to Plymouth Albion…

Girvan Dempsey's young side overturned a 10-8 half-time deficit at Brickfields with tries from Ben Marshall and Cian Kelleher adding to Sam Coghlan Murray's first half score.

Ireland Under-20 out-half Ross Byrne kicked two conversions and four penalties as Leinster 'A' moved 31-10 clear in the closing stages of this Pool 4 opener.

However, two late tries from Plymouth took some of the gloss off the away victory. Albion battled back for two bonus points courtesy of a penalty try and a last-gasp seven-pointer from Toby Howley-Berridge.

Speaking afterwards, Leinster 'A' head coach Dempsey said: "After very little preparation time I was really pleased to get a result like that. Plymouth put us under huge pressure in the first half but we came back well after the interval.

"We are a really young side who responded well in the second 40, producing some good rugby and scoring a couple of fine tries."

He added: "The B&I Cup is a massive platform for our young players and gives them the opportunity to put their hands up for senior selection."

Number 10 Byrne got the defending champions up and running with an early penalty from 40 metres. Plymouth hit back with a try from winger Lewis Warner before a breakaway try from Coghlan Murray, who darted over from halfway, put Leinster 'A' back in front.

However, thanks to a try from winger Elliot Clements-Hill, Plymouth went into the break leading 10-8.

It was a different story in the second half as Leinster 'A' forced Plymouth to play the game very much on the back foot. Byrne opened the second half scoring with a penalty from the 22 and then converted a try from industrious flanker Marshall, which sent Leinster 'A' two scores clear.

UCD clubman Byrne soon tagged on two more penalties before victory was secured when impressive full-back Kelleher finished off a fine break by his Lansdowne colleague Tom Farrell, who came on in the centre.

Byrne added the extras before Plymouth scored two late converted tries. The first was a penalty try awarded by referee David Procter after a powerful forward drive and the second a close range effort scored by centre Howley-Berridge.

Next up for Leinster 'A' is a home clash with Jersey, who beat Carmarthen Quins 37-17 in the other Pool 4 game today.

REFEREE: David Procter (RFU)