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...Luke Fitzgerald made his debut for Leinster and went to close to marking the day with a try to round off his Leaving Cert Results...

Leinster fell to a 24-5 pre-season defeat to Dax in the Stade Maurice Boyau on Wednesday evening.
It was almost a dream start for debutant Luke Fitzgerald who darted into the corner after a sharp delayed Christian Warner pass in the 7th minute but the18-year-old was denied by a brilliant tackle that knocked him into touch.

Dax rallied and fullback Ross McCarron had to be at his best to deny a blazing run from left wing Paul Dabrin moments later. With both sides opting to run with ball in hand at virtually every opportunity in a blistering start, it took a penalty to break the deadlock in the 17th minute when out-half Mathieu Maillard slotted over a straightforward penalty after a Bernard Jackman indiscretion at a ruck.

Wallaby duo Chris Whitaker and Owen Finegan looked lively on their first outing for the visitors with the latter looking strong in the loose and even nicked an opposition lineout in the opening salvos. But Maillard doubled his side's advantage on 31 minutes with his second penalty of the evening after skipper Niall Ronan was harshly penalised for a shoulder high tackle.

A crunching tackle from Adam Byrnes on Bruno Hiriart led to the flying wing spilling the ball, which found Andrew Dunne on the touchline, but the former Bath man lacked support in a good position inside the opposition 22 and the hosts took a 6-0 lead into the interval.

In the 50th minute Paul Dabrin sprinted clear after some classy offloads to touch down past the despairing Byrnes with Maillard again adding the points to stretch Dax's lead to 13-0. Four minutes later substitute Anthony Mazel barged over to push the lead to 18 points as Maillard's effort fell wide of the upright. Gary Brown then came close to reaping a reward that his efforts deserved but he was denied in the corner, as was a Dunne surge in the 61st minute which was halted by the rigid Dax defence.

Replacement kicker Ludovic Courtade added his side's third penalty of the evening on 66 minutes. Leinster trialists Michael Berne showed good power and a blistering turn of pace in the 72nd minute when he broke from the Leinster 22 as far as the ten-metre line. He found Fitzgerald who released Brown whose clever cross-field kick was narrowly missed by a despairing Stephen Grissing dive.

A minute later Guy Easterby crossed for a simple score after a scrum but Fitzgerald missed the conversion. To their credit Leinster fought hard to the end but Courtade added his second kick to give his side a 24-5 victory.

Leinster will face London Irish in Donnybrook on Friday week (KO: 7.30pm). Tickets are on sale now from www.leinsterrugby.ie

Dax Scorers: P. Dabrin / A. Mazel (1 try each), M. Maillard (2 penalties, 1 conversion), L. Courtade (2 penalties)

Leinster Scorers: G. Easterby (1 try)

DAX:

L. Diaz, B. Hiriart, M. Kefu, L. Courtade, P. Dabrin, M. Maillard, J-B Pezet; W. Bonet, Y. Pedrosa, J. Brugnaud, M. Sierra (A. Mazel, ht), R. Berek (CAPTAIN), C. Tournier, F. Alexandre (C. Milheres, 24), F. Auelua

LEINSTER:

15: Ross McCarron
14: Luke Fitzgerald
13: Stephen Grissing
12: Michael Berne (TRIAL) (Andrew Dunne TRIAL, 30) (Michael Berne, 65)
11: Gary Brown
10: Christian Warner
9: Chris Whitaker (Guy Easterby, ht)

1: Harry Vermaas (Fosi Pala'amo, 31) (Reggie Corrigan, ht)
2: Bernard Jackman (Johnny Wickham, 25) (Harry Vermaas, 45)
3: Fosi Pala'amo (TRIAL) (Will Green, 25) (Robert Sweeney, 62)
4: Adam Byrnes
5: Des Dillon
6: Owen Finegan
7: Niall Ronan (CAPTAIN) (Stephen Keogh, 55)
8: Stephen Keogh (Ciaran Potts, 30)

Referee: Pascal Gauzere

Attendance: 6,000

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20 June 2018
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