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Leinster ‘A’ Warm Up For B&I Cup With Runaway Win

Leinster ‘A’ Warm Up For B&I Cup With Runaway Win

Leinster ‘A’ enjoyed a productive warm-up for their British & Irish Cup campaign at Donnybrook tonight, running in eight tries in a comprehensive 51-10 triumph over Ulster ‘A’.

Early tries from Dominic Ryan and Cathal Marsh had set the tone for Leinster ‘A’, and although Ulster’s second string cause them problems at times, a second half scoring blitz guided the hosts towards an impressive win.

While the B&I Cup opener against Richmond next Saturday is a high priority, Leinster ‘A’ were eager to lay down a marker on a dry evening in south Dublin. Indeed, the Blues enjoyed a near perfect start to the proceedings, as they opened a 14-point advantage inside the opening ten minutes of play.

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A sweeping second minute move across the Ulster line – involving several players – was finished off in the right corner by senior international Ryan, and despite facing a tight angle for his first kick of the night, out-half Marsh expertly split the posts with the conversion.

Marsh has appeared off the bench in away GUINNESS PRO12 games against Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh already this season, and following an attack inside the visitors’ 22, he raced over the whitewash for his province’s second touchdown in the space of five minutes.

Marsh converted own five-pointer, and when he opted for touch just before the first quarter mark, a third try appeared imminent. However, the Ulster ‘A’ defence held out under pressure on this occasion, and they worked their way back into contention in the 26th minute.

Winger Aaron Cairns crashed over the Leinster ‘A’ whitewash at the end of a memorable run, and a routine conversion by Johnny McPhillips (a star performer for the Ireland Under-20s last season) reduced the hosts’ lead to seven points.

This was a reminder of what this versatile Ulster ‘A’ line-up were capable of, and even though they received a minor let-off in the form of a missed McPhillips penalty on 31 minutes, the Ballynahinch clubman made no mistake from a distance of 35 metres moments later.

Ulster ‘A’ were growing in confidence as the half developed, but Leinster ‘A’ re-established their supremacy with an expertly-struck Marsh penalty three minutes before the interval. This score gave the Blues a 17-10 cushion, and after a swift attack involving Tom Daly and Terry Kennedy fell just short of producing another try, the seven-point gap remained in place for the interval.

With Hayden Triggs, Ross Byrne and Charlie Rock all introduced, Leinster ‘A’ were hoping to replicate their explosive opening to the game. Indeed, a fast-paced attack straight from the restart ended with Daly putting Ryan through for his second try of the night.

A simple conversion by Ross Byrne put further daylight between the teams, and after another flurry of replacements arrived on 51 minutes, Leinster ‘A’ once again breached the northerners’ line. A quick break on the left flank by former Newbridge College starlet Jimmy O’Brien put the visitors on the back foot and his centre partner Daly was in the right place to apply a simple finish, via O’Brien’s neat offload.

Daly’s unconverted score was then supplemented by a fantastic individual five-pointer from Hugo Keenan just shy of the hour mark, which saw Leinster ‘A’ storm into a 24-point lead.

The hosts were not prepared to ease off, though, and Triggs got his name on the scoresheet by completing an enterprising maul on the left hand side. This was followed by Ross Byrne’s second successful conversion of the half, before St. Mary’s duo Jordan Larmour and Kennedy capped off a fine evening for Leinster ‘A’ with tries in the 74th and 80th minutes respectively.

Speaking afterwards, Leinster ‘A’ head coach Hugh Hogan felt that the game was a worthwhile exercise ahead of their forthcoming British & Irish Cup campaign, and although he acknowledged there were aspects of their first half display that required improvements, he feels they are in a good place ahead of next week’s trip to London.

“It was (a big win) in the end, but it was certainly very tight through that first half. We had a few words with the lads at half-time as to where we were being inaccurate,” remarked Hogan.

“Certainly, the contact zone is an area where we weren’t that accurate, and Ulster ‘A’ did a really good job there. We focused on that in the second half, it allowed us to play with a bit more freedom and faster ball.

“It was so, so valuable for us to have this match this evening as prep for the British & Irish Cup. We’ve got Richmond away, followed by Nottingham at home, as our first two games. We go into Monday, we’ve got something to review before we start prepping for Richmond on Tuesday.

“I’m certainly very grateful to the All-Ireland League sides, and how accommodating they were with the round of games that were due to go ahead today.”

LEINSTER ‘A’: Jack Power; Terry Kennedy, Jimmy O’Brien, Tom Daly, Hugo Keenan; Cathal Marsh, Nick McCarthy (capt); Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Mick Kearney, Jack Regan, Dominic Ryan, Will Connors, Max Deegan.

Replacements used: Andrew Porter for Dooley (22-31 mins), Hayden Triggs for Regan, Charlie Rock for McCarthy, Ross Byrne for Marsh (all half-time), Sean McNulty for Byrne, Andrew Porter for Dooley, Oisin Dowling for Kearney, Peadar Timmins for Connors, Jordan Larmour for Kennedy (all 51), Oisin Heffernan for Loughman (57), Kennedy for Power (68), Connors for Deegan (79).

ULSTER ‘A’: Callum Smith; Aaron Cairns, Jacob Stockdale, Mark Best, Conor Kelly; Johnny McPhillips, Angus Lloyd; Kyle McCall, John Andrew, Jonny Simpson, Dan Tuohy (capt), John Donnan, Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, Lorcan Dow.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Tom O’Hagan, Craig Trenier, Stephen Muholland, Marcus Rea, Brett Herron, Robert Lyttle, Ollie Brown, Tom Staple.

Referee: Jonny Erskine (IRFU)