United Rugby Championship: Leinster thrash Dragons to seal 14th successive victory

Planet Rugby
Leinster marched to a convincing 43-14 United Rugby Championship (URC) victory over the Dragons at the RDS on Saturday.

Leinster marched to a convincing 43-14 United Rugby Championship (URC) victory over the Dragons at the RDS on Saturday.

The win further cements the Irish Province’s place at the top of the URC standings with a 12-point buffer over second-placed Stormers.

Harry Byrne scored a first-half brace helping Leinster open up a 26-7 halftime lead. Rhys Ruddock produced another man-of-the-match performance as the men in blue ran in seven tries to two in the win.

Byrne scored Leinster’s first and last try of the first half, with Luke McGrath and Ruddock chipping in with scores as Leo Cullen’s side secured the bonus point before halftime. Byrne converted three of the five-pointers. Captain Rhodri Williams scored the Dragons’ only try of the first half.

Jordan Larmour and JJ Hanrahan exchanged tries before Leinster wrapped up the win with late scores from Rob Russell and Charlie Tector.

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Dave Kearney threatened an early try which was scored in the third minute by a stretching Byrne, who profited from quick recycling.

The wind-backed Dragons messed up two maul opportunities, following a Will Reed penalty miss, with the first of them seeing Ross Molony rip possession away.

The ever-alert McGrath read a 25th-minute loop move from Dragons, pinching a pass from Reed to score from halfway, and Byrne converted.

McGrath’s opposite number Williams lifted his side with a well-taken seven-pointer, sniping over from a ruck to make it 14-7.

However, Leinster pocketed their bonus point by the interval, skipper Ruddock finishing off a pacey break, and a late onslaught saw Liam Turner send Byrne over from close range.

The injury-enforced loss of Jack Dixon was a further setback for the Dragons, who allowed Larmour to break down the blindside of a ruck and supply a quality finish in the corner.

Nice handling between Rhodri Jones and Brodie Coghlan threatened a Dragons try in response, but Leo Cullen’s side held firm through 19 phases.

Although a Jack Boyle turnover added to the Welsh outfit’s frustration, they doubled their tally when Steff Hughes’ neat offload, which initially struck Hanrahan’s head, bounced up for the Kerryman to go in under the posts.

Sparking Leinster’s strong finish, Jimmy O’Brien countered impressively from a kick, linking with Lee Barron, who put Russell over for his eighth score of the season.

Fellow Academy player Tector opened his try account for the province with their seventh in the final minute. Kearney used a Barron turnover to kick through, and Tector, having regained possession, powered away from Jordan Williams to score.

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