Leinster made it 13 successive victories in this season’s PRO14 to extend their lead in Conference A following a dominant 55-19 triumph over Glasgow Warriors in Dublin.
Ryan Baird and Dave Kearney were the stars, with both scoring hat-tricks, while James Lowe (twice) and Scott Fardy also went over.
It took just three-and-a-half minutes for 20-year-old man-of-the-match Baird to crash over, while the hosts’ thunderous attack produced further scores for Kearney, Lowe and captain Fardy to create a 24-7 half-time lead.
Kyle Steyn doubled Glasgow’s try tally, adding to Tommy Seymour’s slick 25th-minute effort, but Lowe completed his brace before Baird brilliantly accelerated away in the 55th minute and then went over again past the hour.
Kearney finished with a hat-trick of his own, cancelling out an Alex Allan score, on a night that Leinster moved 20 points clear at the top of Conference A. They have also set a new 15-match record for consecutive victories in the championship, eclipsing Munster’s 14 from 2011.
The hosts got over from their very first attack, a scrum penalty allowing them to carry with great intent, before Baird expertly burrowed over from a couple of metres out. The heavily-influential Harry Byrne converted to the right of the posts.
Leinster tidied up lineout ball after an overcooked Pete Horne kick, and another powerful carrying spell forced Warriors backwards. Armed with a penalty advantage, Byrne’s long pass put Kearney over in the corner to make it 12-0 after as many minutes.
Handling errors thwarted Glasgow’s progress but a couple of clever kicks from Seymour and Horne got them moving. It was former Scotland winger Seymour who cut a great angle off George Horne’s inside pass to glide in behind the posts. The latter’s brother converted to put five points between them.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) February 28, 2020
A Baird knock-on denied Leinster as they built for a swift response, but his second-row partner Fardy soon outfoxed two defenders with a scooped offload to send Lowe raiding over for a seven-pointer.
Luke McGrath’s initial break sparked a furious late hunt for the bonus point, Fardy duly delivering it off a close-in ruck.
However, the Warriors had an encouraging start to the second half. Skipper Ryan Wilson was involved as quick hands released Steyn for a superb in-and-out finish from his own 10-metre line.
Leinster cancelled out that score in the 51st minute, Will Connors’ turnover and another burst by Baird leading to some smart handling across the backline. Lowe, fed on halfway, managed to spin out of Huw Jones’ attempted tackle to finish off his seventh try of the season.
It got even better for the Irish province when Baird stormed over from 45 metres out, stunning scrum-half Horne and the chasing wingers with his pace. The St Michael’s College product picked from a ruck to add a much more straightforward third try with 63 minutes on the clock.
Niko Matawalu’s break and an excellent offload by Jamie Dobie put fellow replacement Allan in under the Leinster posts in the 70th minute.
Yet, Leo Cullen’s side pushed through the 50-point barrier, Fardy starring in the build-up to Kearney’s second of the night, before Jones’ loose offload gave the Ireland winger his third and completed a remarkable performance.
In the other game on Friday, Edinburgh edged to a narrow 14-6 triumph over Cardiff Blues at Murrayfield. In a physical encounter, Jason Tovey kicked two penalties for the visitors, but George Taylor’s try and the accurate kicking of Simon Hickey sealed the win as the Scots went seven points clear at the top of Conference B.