Borders must be sick of the sight of Gary Brown – the flying winger scored his second successive hat-trick against the Scottish side on Friday night to propel Leinster towards a 62-14 win.
…Leinster winger Gary Brown running in one of his three tries at Donnybrook on Friday night…
Borders must be sick of the sight of Gary Brown – the flying winger scored his second successive hat-trick against the Scottish side on Friday night to propel Leinster to a 62-14 win.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Friday, January 27
LEINSTER 62 BORDER REIVERS 14, Donnybrook (Att: 4,125)
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Bryce Williams, Felipe Contepomi, Gary Brown 3, Denis Hickie, Rob Kearney, Niall Ronan, John Hepworth; Cons: Contepomi 7; Pen: Contepomi
Borders: Tries: Nikki Walker 2; Cons: Charlie Hore 2
The win – Leinster’s fifth in six games across all competitions – moved them up to second in the Celtic League table after Michael Cheika’s side equalled the record for the highest points scored in a league game, matching the efforts of both Connacht (62-0 v Caerphilly, September 2001) and Llanelli RFC (62-18 v Caerphilly, March 2002).
Blackrock clubman Brown took his chance with the cream of Leinster’s backline away on Ireland duty. Steve Bates’ men will not need reminding but Brown also scored three times against them in a 50-13 Donnybrook defeat in September 2004.
Still without an away league win since September, Borders were competitive until the finish at Donnybrook on Friday but the gulf in class was overwhelming. Winger Nikki Walker’s two first half tries were their only high points.
Minus half the side that helped them beat Bath in the Heineken Cup, Leinster were still a force. Of course, it helps when you have a fly half of the ability of Argentinian Felipe Contepomi binding things altogether. The Puma star, whose wife Paula gave birth to a baby girl, Catalina, on Friday morning, crowned a landmark day by scoring a try and kicking 17 points.
Borders’ biggest defeat of the season looked on the cards early on – Michael Cheika’s hosts had a bonus point in the bag by the 28th-minute.
Poor defence allowed Kiwi lock Bryce Williams lurch over for the opener after only two minutes. Contepomi converted, added a penalty and the extras to his own try on 18 minutes to push through the 400-point barrier in Leinster colours.
Reivers’ first attack of note on 22 minutes, then garnered them a try. Ben MacDougall muscled his way forward, the ball was recycled and Brendan McKerchar switched play over to the left to put Walker over near the posts. Charlie Hore converted for a 17-7 deficit.
With a minute remaining in the first half, the 23-year-old Walker notched his fifth try in nine league outings, but Leinster still turned around with a 36-14 interval lead.
Hore intercepted a Contepomi pass, Calum MacRae and Garry Law helped bring play into the Leinster half and Walker was put over from 15 metres out. Hore again converted but Brown’s first half brace and axed Ireland star Denis Hickie’s 50th try for his province had the men in blue bubbling nicely.
A one-sided second half saw Brown (51 minutes), Rob Kearney (59), replacement Niall Ronan (60) and former rugby league player John Hepworth (65) all breach the Borders’ cover on a sorry night for the visitors.
Bates said afterwards: “We gave Leinster too many opportunities to come at us in the first half.
You have to take your hat off to them though. They played with a huge amount of confidence and Contepomi was outstanding.”
LEINSTER – Denis Hickie; Gary Brown, Kieran Lewis, John Hepworth, Rob Kearney (Brendan Burke 63); Felipe Contepomi (capt) (Jonathan Sexton 75), Guy Easterby (Brian O’Riordan 63); Reggie Corrigan, Brian Blaney (David Blaney 66), Emmett Byrne, Adam Byrnes, Bryce Williams (Devin Toner 65), Eric Miller (Niall Ronan 55), Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
BORDERS – Calum MacRae; Stuart Moffat, Ben MacDougall, Garry Law, Nikki Walker; Charlie Hore, Brendan McKerchar (Jonny Weston 65); Paul Thomson (capt) (Tommy McGee 64), Ross Ford (Stephen Scott 57), Geoff Cross, Scott Macleod, Opeta Palepoi, Kelly Brown (Andy Rennick 66), Andy Miller, Semo Sititi.
Referee: Phil Fear (Wales)