Leinster continued their fine recent form in the United Rugby Championship when they sealed a 33-10 victory against a 14-man Dragons team at Rodney Parade on Sunday.
It was the Dragons’ third home defeat of the season – after they also lost in their backyard to Edinburgh and Cardiff – and this result means it was a miserable weekend for the Welsh regions, with all four of them losing at home.
For the Irish province, Dan Sheehan, Thomas Clarkson, Ciaran Frawley, Charlie Ngatai and Scott Penny crossed for tries with Ross Byrne converting four.
Aneurin Owen scored a try for the Dragons, who finished the game with 14 men after Taine Basham was red carded, while their other points came via the boot of Cai Evans who added a penalty and a conversion.
The opening period was largely a featureless one with constant penalties being awarded by Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi, which prevented any flow to the game.
Poor handling in the miserable conditions also contributed to the lack of continuity in the play but the Dragons’ pack did make a decent fist of testing their opponents to the full.
However they were clearly on the wrong side of the referee in scrum engagements by conceding six penalties in that area in the first half-hour and that certainly cost them a lot of territory.
The Dragons’ ill-discipline eventually told when Leinster scrum-half Ben Murphy showed some initiative to quickly tap a penalty and race into the opposition 22. From there Dragons conceded another penalty and a pre-planned move saw Clarkson walk through a paper-thin defence to score.
Byrne’s conversion gave his side a 14-3 interval lead and within a minute that advantage had been extended.
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Rio Dyer lost possession in his own half for Leinster to counter-attack in style with Frawley finishing off a sweeping move.
However the visitors were dealt two blows in quick succession. First Tommy O’Brien was helped off with a leg injury before Owen chased a Rhodri Williams chip and won the race to touch down.
Dragons lost Jarrod Rosser and Aaron Wainwright to failed HIAs before a well-judged cross-field kick from Byrne created the bonus-point try for Ngatai.
The hosts’ woes continued when Basham was sent off for making head contact with his arm before Matthew Screech was yellow-carded, with Scott Penny’s last-minute try harsh on Dragons.
Dragons: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (c), 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 George Nott, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Rhodri Jones
Replacements: 16 James Benjamin, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Luke Yendle, 19 Sean Lonsdale, 20 Ryan Woodman, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Jack Dixon, 23 Ewan Rosser
Leinster: 15 Ciarán Frawley, 14 Tommy O’Brien, 13 Jamie Osborne, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Jimmy O’Brien, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Ben Murphy, 8 James Culhane, 7 Will Connors, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Dan Sheehan (c), 1 Jack Boyle
Replacements: 16 Lee Barron, 17 Paddy McCarthy, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Max Deegan, 20 Scott Penny, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Rob Russell
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Mark Butcher (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)