Ireland stars shine as Leinster hammer sorry Scarlets in one-sided URC win

Planet Rugby
Hugo Keenan of Leinster.

Hugo Keenan of Leinster.

Leo Cullen welcomed back a host of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup stars as Leinster hammered Scarlets 54-5 at the RDS Arena on Saturday evening.

The result secured Leinster’s fourth successive win in the tournament after an opening-day defeat to the Glasgow Warriors.

Fly-half Sam Prendergast scored the opening try and converted Jimmy O’Brien’s and Max Deegan’s scores to give Leinster a 19-5 advantage at half-time.

Garry Ringrose scored inside the first 10 minutes of the second half to secure the bonus point, with further efforts from Jamie Osborne (2), Jack Boyle and Max Deegan sealing the comprehensive victory. Ross Byrne added 10 points from the tee.

The Scarlets‘ only points came through centre Johnny Williams before the half-hour mark, having returned from the sin bin after a dangerous tackle.

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As if Scarlets’ task was not hard enough against a host of Ireland stars, centre Williams’ tip tackle on Ringrose put him in the bin after just 32 seconds.

The 14 men then fell behind in the third minute, a crisp counter-attack seeing Jamison Gibson-Park release Prendergast for an unconverted score.

A seven-pointer followed in the eighth minute, Gibson-Park picking out O’Brien to cut inside Tomi Lewis and open his account for the season, Prendergast slotting over the conversion.

Dwayne Peel’s charges were 19-0 down by the end of the opening quarter. Jordan Larmour jinked inside, and Osborne was tackled short before Gibson-Park sent flanker Deegan crashing over for the first of his brace.

On his first URC start, Charlie Titcombe lifted Scarlets with a fine kick to touch. Carwyn Tuipulotu went close, and a further penalty led to Williams beating Joe McCarthy’s tackle to pull back five points.

Scarlets exerted more pressure nearing the break but turned down two kickable penalties, and prop Thomas Clarkson won a relieving penalty for Leinster.

Into the second period, Kieran Hardy outfoxed Gibson-Park off a scrum, breaking brilliantly from deep and evading O’Brien’s tackle. However, he was denied a stunning solo try by Hugo Keenan, bundling him into touch.

Just a couple of minutes later, Leinster countered for their bonus-point try. Keenan sped through to send co-captain Ringrose over from the edge of the visitors’ 22. Prendergast converted to make it 26-5.

Taking advantage of some missed tackles, Osborne slipped through from a Ross Byrne pass for try number five, which Byrne converted.

Leinster academy scrum-half Fintan Gunne came off the bench for his senior bow, and he soon made an impact, feeding Boyle to go over in the 66th minute, with fellow replacement Byrne adding the extras again.

Gunne also put Osborne over to complete his brace and was hit high by Scott Williams for a second Scarlets yellow card. Deegan wrapped up the scoring with his fourth try in as many games.

Glasgow claim bonus-point win over Benetton

Meanwhile, the Glasgow Warriors ran in four tries to earn a 26-12 bonus-point victory over Benetton.

The home side’s clinical finishing decided a competitive encounter as Franco Smith’s men continued their strong start to the season.

Glasgow were missing Jamie Dobie, out for up to 14 weeks following ankle surgery, and the suspended Duncan Weir.

Their losses were offset by a first appearance since the World Cup for George Turner, while Tom Gordon also featured for the first time this season.

Benetton arrived as the only undefeated team in the league and took advantage of some Glasgow indiscipline to land two early Tomas Albornoz penalties.

They could have stretched their lead when Albornoz attempted a drop-goal, but he pulled his effort just wide.

Glasgow hit back as they crossed for the first try of the game. Stafford McDowall won his side a line-out with the 50:22 kick, with the ball being passed through hands before Josh McKay burst over. George Horne knocked over the extras.

Glasgow had their second try just minutes later. Sebastian Cancelliere burst through the middle of the Benetton defence before finding Kyle Rowe to dot down, with Horne again converting. The Italians responded with another perfect Albornoz penalty to keep them in contention.

Warriors were then temporarily reduced to 14 men when McKay went high on Sebastian Negri and was shown a yellow card.

Benetton could not take advantage of the man advantage for 10 minutes but came within inches from scoring late in the first half, only for Marcus Watson to be bundled into touch by a combination of Cancelliere and Tom Jordan.

Glasgow were reduced to 14 men for a second time early in the second half when Tom Gordon was sin-binned for illegally disrupting the maul.

Benetton looked certain to score with the man advantage, but Marco Zanon dropped the ball right on the line under pressure from Matt Fagerson.

That was a let-off for Glasgow, and they capitalised with a third try. Cancelliere took a quick line-out to McKay, who released Horne. The scrum-half burst forward before releasing the Argentina international to score.

Jacob Umaga added a penalty to keep Benetton within range before Horne claimed Glasgow’s fourth try, taking a pass from McKay on the wing before diving over in the corner.

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