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Leinster overcome slow start to blitz Borders

Leinster overcome slow start to blitz Borders

Leinster overcame an early 13-3 deficit to defeat The Borders 50-13, scoring six tries in the process, to go top of the Celtic League.

Leinster overcame an early 13-3 deficit to defeat The Borders 50-13, scoring six tries in the process, to go top of the Celtic League.

Conditions were perfect for Leinster to unleash their pacey backline against the unheralded Borders side. Without a win in nine matches coming into this, the Scottish district side had reason to be anxious.

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However, they hit the ground running and surprised the Leinster support with some solid early play, kicking to the corners and dominating possession and territory. It paid off when captain Paul Thomson scored a try from close in after eight minutes.

A Charlie Hore conversion and subsequent penalty after ten minutes furrowed a few brows amongst the home support. But Leinster didn’t panic. They simply hadn’t settled in terms of securing possession and holding onto it. An O’Meara penalty reduced the deficit to 10-3 before Hore responded with one of his own.

Leinster started to string phases together better and looked threatening out wide. Once Gary Brown combined with Denis Hickie to sprint in from 40m on 28 minutes, there was a collective sigh of relief.

That score was the catalyst for a more confident approach thereafter from Leinster. They moved the ball wide at will, with both Contepomi and, particularly, Warner sending the back three off and running.

And how they revelled in it. It’s ridiculous to think that Hickie has been absent for ten months. He frightened the Borders every time he got the ball, countering brilliantly using pace and serving past two in midfield to send James Norton away on the right. Norton linked with Hickie again, but the move looked to have been foiled by the Borders cover, until the ball bounced loose and perfectly for Hickie to gather and fall over the line, putting Leinster ahead for the first time on 38 minutes at 18-13. By now Contepomi had taken over the kicking duties from an unusually awry O’Meara, and a further penalty on the stroke of halftime sent Leinster in 21-13 at the interval.

The game was out of sight for the Borders when Contepomi added a further penalty for 24-13. The second half saw Leinster give full vent to their running abilities, particularly the back three, whose pace was simply too much for the Borders. Some of Leinster’s close interpassing was a joy to behold. The pack had shored up the early errors, securing plentiful ball and disrupting The Borders lineout.

James Norton added a try on 46 minutes, off a smartly-taken quick lineout, before Brown notched up his second and third to complete a hat-tick. At 43-13, a combination of Leinster easing off the gas and Borders defiance staunched the flow for a spell, before Norton bagged his second on eighty minutes to reach the half-century.

With the bonus point secured, Leinster now top the table – at least until the Ospreys play Ulster this evening. With a number of excellent performances, the difficulty for Kidney rests in keeping his extended squad happy, particularly in light of the imminent return of the remainder of the international squad members. Shane Byrne got his first taste of action last night, coming on for a very lively David Blaney.

Tough calls lie ahead, but, for now, all is sweetness and light.

15: Denis Hickie
14: James Norton
13: Christian Warner
12: Felipe Contepomi
11: Gary Brown
10: Brian O’Meara
9: Guy Easterby
1: Ricky Nebbett
2: David Blaney
3: Emmett Byrne
4: Leo Cullen (Captain)
5: Des Dillon
6: Eric Miller
7: Ciaran Potts
8: Victor Costello
16: Peter Coyle
17: Shane Byrne

18: Ben Gissing
19: Aidan McCullen
20: David McAllister
21: Kieran Lewis
22: Brendan Burke
The Borders:
15 Stuart Moffat
14 Nikki Walker

13 Callum MacRae

12 Charlie Hore

11 Andy Turnbull

10 Ally Warnock