Leinster ‘A’ stepped up their preparations for next month’s British & Irish Cup semi-final against Munster ‘A’ with a seven-try 50-0 victory in Wednesday’s interprovincial encounter with the Connacht ‘A’ side at Anglesea Road.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Wednesday, March 14
LEINSTER ‘A’ 50 CONNACHT ‘A’ 0, Anglesea Road, Old Belvedere RFC
Scorers: Leinster ‘A’: Tries: Brendan Macken 3, Leo Auva’a 2, Darren Hudson, Dominic Ryan; Cons: Mat Berquist 3, Noel Reid 3; Pen: Mat Berquist
Connacht ‘A’: –
Leinster ‘A’, with World Cup winner Brad Thorn making his debut for the province, opened the scoring after just five minutes.
Promising centre Brendan Macken took a Mat Berquist pass to touch down under the posts after a spell of pressure from the home side which saw skipper Jack McGrath, Mark Flanagan and then Jamie Hagan barge up close to the try-line.
The returning Berquist, featuring in Leinster colours for the first time in six months, added the extras to make it 7-0.
Connacht ‘A’ rallied and when a Leinster forward was adjudged to not having rolled away at a ruck ten minutes later, it gave out-half Jack Carty a chance to shave the deficit with a penalty outside the Leinster 22, but the kick fell wide of the target.
A high tackle by Connacht ‘A’ prop Rodney Ah You in the 22nd minute led to a yellow card and Leinster ‘A’ tried to turn the numerical advantage in their favour.
Half-backs John Cooney and Berquist probed for an opening inside the westerners’ 22 before number 8 Leo Auva’a, playing at his own club Old Belvedere’s ground, gathered the ball at a base of a scrum and stretched over the line on the half hour mark for the second try.
Berquist’s conversion doubled Leinster’s lead and with four minutes remaining of the half Auva’a crossed for his second try, this time in the corner, after a clever Andrew Boyle pass. Berquist’s difficult touchline conversion attempt fell inches wide of the posts.
Connacht ‘A’ almost scored their opening points on the stroke of half-time, but Dave Moore’s pass fell forward of the onrushing second row Conor Kindregan and the scoreline remained 19-0 to the hosts at the interval.
The second half started with several Andrew Conway bursts and eventually the pressure told with Macken scoring his second try of the afternoon after 45 minutes.
Macken gathered a looping Auva’a pass out on the right wing to cut in and score. Berquist tagged on the extras to make it 26-0.
A Berquist penalty in the 53rd minute extended Leinster’s lead and the New Zealander left the pitch to a appreciative round of applause from the crowd for his impressive all-round performance. Young replacement Noel Reid entered the fray.
Despite their healthy lead, Leinster ‘A’ showed no signs of letting up. Cooney did well to sprint clear of the Connacht defence, he passed for Reid who released winger Darren Hudson for a well-worked score which Reid converted.
With six minutes remaining, flanker Dominic Ryan intercepted a pass well inside his half to race clear and touch down with Reid converting to move Leinster ‘A’ 43-0 ahead.
There was still time for Macken to complete his hat-trick, finishing off the final seven-pointer, with Reid providing the assist and also knocking over the conversion.
LEINSTER ‘A’: Andrew Conway; Andrew Boyle, Brendan Macken, Colm O’Shea, Darren Hudson; Mat Berquist, John Cooney; Jack McGrath (capt), Aaron Dundon, Jamie Hagan, Brad Thorn, Mark Flanagan, Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan, Leo Auva’a.
Replacements used: Alan O’Connor for Thorn (half-time), Noel Reid for Berquist (54 mins), Jordi Murphy for Ruddock (58), Steve Crosbie for Boyle (64), James Tracy for McGrath, Tom Sexton for Dundon, Martin Moore for Hagan (all 66), David Doyle for Ryan (75).
CONNACHT ‘A’: Matthew Jarvis; James Loxton, Brian Murphy, Tadhg Leader, Darragh Leader; Jack Carty (capt), Dave Moore; Finlay Bealham, Dermot Murphy, Rodney Ah You, Conor Kindregan, Michael Kearney, Dave Heffernan, Eoghan Grace, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements used: Jamie Stephens for Heffernan (25-33 mins, temp sub), Kevin O’Byrne for D Murphy, Brian Moylett for McKeon (both 51), Conor Fitzgibbon for Loxton, Denis Buckley for Bealham, Jamie Stephens for Ah You (all 54), Matt Dever for Carty, Mark Dolan for Moore (both 64).
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)