Ross Byrne drilled over a superb 73rd-minute drop goal to steer Leinster ‘A’ to a hard-earned away victory over Rotherham Titans in the opening round of the British & Irish Cup…

The sides' most recent meeting, at the quarter-final stage of last season's B&I Cup, was a free-flowing affair which Leinster 'A' won 51-32 thanks to a seven-try salvo.

But very cold and wet conditions greeted the province today on their return to Clifton Lane, and the Hugh Hogan and Shaun Berne-coached visitors were made to battle all the way for a tight three-point triumph.

This was a very impressive defensive performance from Leinster 'A' as they kept a dangerous Rotherham outfit try-less, standing firm in the face of a late onslaught close to their line.

Out-half Ross Byrne kicked the province in front with a long range penalty in the 20th minute. Titans had the better of the first quarter, but the lineout gave Leinster 'A' a solid foundation and winger Mick McGrath and full-back Billy Dardis countered with relish.

Rotherham then took it to the visitors up front again, and number 10 Byrne – receiving a yellow card – paid the price for successive infringements as Leinster 'A' tried desperately to defend a maul close to their own whitewash.

Byrne's opposite number Ross Jones mopped up with the three points, however 14-man Leinster 'A' managed to take a 9-6 into the break thanks to the place-kicking accuracy of centre Steve Crosbie.

He thumped over a 35th minute penalty from halfway and then punished a scrum offence from Rotherham by squeezing a kick inside the left hand upright, four minutes later. Titans closed out the first half's scoring with a second three-pointer from Jones.

The Rotherham out-half split the posts once more with 50 minutes on the clock, tying things up at 9-all. Leinster 'A', who introduced Michael Bent and Ross Molony up front, were guilty of losing their discipline at the breakdown.

Territorially Rotherham were getting on top, but they were getting little change out of a very well-organised blue-shirted defence where captain Peadar Timmins led by example.

Attacking opportunities were at a premium, but Lansdowne centre Tom Farrell made a smart break in the 55th minute off turnover ball and workhorse flanker Dan Leavy stretched his legs when bursting through midfield on the hour mark.

Then, having done well to defend a five-metre lineout, the visitors sprung forward with less than ten minutes remaining. They retained good field position, making the hard yards before the 20-year-old Byrne stepped back in the pocket and planted a terrific long range drop goal through the posts.

That proved to be the match-winning score as despite former Ireland Under-20 international James McKinney kicking Rotherham back into scoring range, Leinster 'A' kept their discipline in defence and drove the hosts back to the 22-metre line and a final turnover clinched the result.

Boosted by their four-point return on the road, the province are back at Donnybrook next Friday where they host Moseley in a 7.30pm kick-off.

REFEREE: Rhys Thomas (Wales)