In three encouraging outings, Leinster eked out a narrow win over Worcester while Ulster and Connacht will take encouragement from their displays despite losing to NEC Harlequins and London Irish.
Declan Kidney’s reign as Leinster coach got off to an encouraging start with a 16-13 win over a full-strength Worcester side.
Conor Kilroy’s last minute penalty was the deciding score in what was a pretty competitive encounter as pre-season friendlies go. There was much for Kidney to feel good about, with a number of promising performances from such as Brian O’Riordan, Shane Jennings, Gavin Hickie and Dave Hewitt, returning to Castle Avenue. There was also a new face in Eoin Burke at scrumhalf, a brother of Brendan.
Worcester opened the scoring with a penalty from Tommy Hayes, the Cook Islands outhalf, before Shane Jennings benefited from a controlled maul to score.
With the Worcester backline pushing up hard, Leinster struggled to make things happen initially in the backline. However, O’Riordan made a searing break that, with Jennings having been sin-binned, Leinster couldn’t convert into a try.
Worcester scored through Matt Powell, following good work from winger Ben Gollings. A Hewitt penalty on the stroke of halftime left the scores tied at 8-8.
A Kidney pep-talk and some alignment changes produced Leinster’s best period after half-time and Hewitt did very well to score on the outside of his man. However, Worcester applied considerable pressure thereafter, with Darren O’Leary availing of a gap to score.
The win was secured, though, when the referee pinged Worcester for handling in a ruck on 78 minutes and Kilroy didn’t need asking twice from the 22m line.