Leinster continued with their fine start to their United Rugby Championship campaign courtesy of a2 0-13 victory over Ulster in their Irish derby at a rain-swept Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.
The visitors were full value for their win as they outscored Ulster by two tries to one with Ryan Baird and Dan Sheehan crossing the whitewash for Leinster while Ross Byrne slotted a couple of penalties and as many conversions.
Ulster trailed 17-3 at half-time but struck back via a John Andrew try while John Cooney succeeded with two penalties and a conversion to claim a losing bonus point.
Leinster’s Baird scored the game’s first points after seven minutes when the visitors moved the ball at pace down the left flank, with quick hands from Garry Ringrose and Dave Kearney creating the space for Baird to make the corner.
Byrne added a great conversion to make it 7-0 to the visitors.
Two minutes after the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Cooney landed a long-range penalty to narrow Leinster’s lead.
On 20 minutes, Leinster had their second try when Sheehan smashed his way over from a lineout maul which Byrne again converted.
The remainder of the half was dominated by a torrential downpour and the only score came from the boot of Byrne after Leinster opted for the posts with a 37th-minute penalty.
The opening 40 minutes ended with Leinster holding a 17-3 lead.
Jacob Stockdale failed to return for the new half after picking up a worrying-looking ankle problem, having endured a similar issue last season.
Leinster’s lead became 20-3 five minutes after the restart, with Byrne’s second penalty.
With Jimmy O’Brien sin-binned in the 61st minute, Ulster put the penalty to the corner and, from the maul, replacement hooker Andrew touched down. Cooney’s conversion cut Leinster’s lead to 10 points.
Ulster worked Aaron Sexton over the line in the 68th minute only for Charlie Ngatai to dislodge the ball in the act of scoring and the try was ruled out.
Cooney kicked a 71st-minute penalty to make it 20-13 to Leinster but, from there, the game petered out with neither side able to score again.
The Lions completed a successful trip to Wales by recording back-to-back United Rugby Championship wins with a deserved 31-18 triumph over Cardiff at the Arms Park.
Last Saturday, the South African outfit had to rely on a late try to sneak a 28-27 win over the Ospreys in Swansea but this was a more convincing victory with a bonus point.
PJ Botha, Morne van den Berg and Quan Horn all crossed for the visitors while there was also a penalty try. Gianni Lombard added the rest of their points with a penalty and three conversions.
James Botham and Shane Lewis-Hughes scored Cardiff’s tries with Jarrod Evans adding two penalties and a conversion in a losing cause.
And in the the early game, Connacht’s poor start to the season continued as they suffered a 28-14 defeat against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Jake White’s team posted a third successive victory, achieving it in bonus-point fashion.
Connacht had plenty of promising moments, but they could not recover from a nightmare start as full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse and scrum-half Zak Burger scored tries during the opening 10 minutes at Loftus Versfeld.
Fly-half Johan Goosen converted both touchdowns, and he also added the extras to tries from Marcell Coetzee and a second by Burger, with prop Jack Aungier and fly-half David Hawkshaw claiming late consolations for Connacht, and Hawkshaw adding two conversions.