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Byrne And McGrath Impress In Leinster ‘A’ Win

Byrne And McGrath Impress In Leinster ‘A’ Win

Half-backs Ross Byrne and Luke McGrath pulled the strings for Leinster ‘A’ as they beat Jersey 26-6 in a rain-hit British & Irish Cup pool game at Donnybrook.


This was the third encounter between the two sides in the British & Irish Cup, following their Pool 5 meetings during the Leinster 'A' team's successful 2012/13 campaign. The Blues were made to work for a 16-12 victory at St. Peter that season, before comfortably securing a 44-13 win in Colin McEntee's final game in charge of the side.
Originally set for a 7.30pm kick-off, the start of tonight's round 2 contest was pushed back by 30 minutes because of an issue with Jersey's flight into Dublin.

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With Wicklow native Michael Noone featuring at number 8, the Channel Island outfit were hoping to build on their impressive home success against Carmarthen Quins last Saturday.
Owing to the bonus point secured in that game, Jersey held a slight advantage over Leinster 'A' in the Pool 5 standings but with less than two minutes gone on the clock, it was the hosts who drew first blood.
Young out-half Ross Byrne was presented with a penalty opportunity and he stepped forward to comfortably slot his place-kick over in very wet conditions.

Jersey were moving the ball effectively up the field during the early stages, but Byrne doubled his side's lead with an 11th minute penalty from an awkward right-hand angle on the ten-metre line.
An expertly-taken penalty from distance by inside centre Lewis Robling halved Jersey's deficit six minutes later, and this seemed to have lifted a weight off their shoulders.

However, in the very next attack, Leinster 'A' claimed their opening try of the evening after Jersey had coughed up possession just shy of their own whitewash.
Scrum half Luke McGrath, who was captain in the absence of Tom Denton, supplied the finishing touches to the try. With Byrne once again on target from the kicking tee, Girvan Dempsey's youngsters were now 13-3 to the good.
With the wind blowing fiercely throughout the 80 minutes, McGrath needed to balance the ball on the tee for his half-back partner's kicks. The duo combined again in the 24th minute when Byrne added three more points to his personal tally.

The sin-binning of prop Ignacio Lancuba had weakened Jersey's hand prior to this score and soon after his return to the pitch, McGrath raced over for his second converted try five minutes before the interval.
This looked like being the last major incident of the first half, but with Jersey desperately searching for a try of their own, they were camped inside the Leinster 22 during an incredible 15 minutes of stoppage-time.
The visitors were awarded scrum after scrum just shy of the opposition line, but even though front rowers Bryan Byrne and Peter Dooley were both sent to the sin-bin, the Blues eventually turned them over to bring a 23-3 buffer into the second period.
Upon the resumption, Leinster returned to the pitch wearing a completely changed strip (the old light blue outfits), but it was their appropriately-named counterparts who opened the half's scoring courtesy of a close range penalty from Jonny Bentley.
After their efforts either side of the break, this was a well-deserved score for Jersey and during the third-quarter, they were showing plenty of intent. Leinster 'A' always remained a threat in possession but, for the most part, the second half action was fairly reserved.
The introduction of Alex Rae, Nicky Griffiths and Aaron Penberthy just shy of the hour mark did freshen up the Jersey line-up. Yet, with a number of Leinster 'A' replacements also getting a chance to shine, the visitors were never able to build the kind of momentum that was needed to bring them back into the reckoning.
One of province's replacements, Cathal Marsh, knocked over a routine penalty on 75 minutes and although they had been searching for the tries that would garner a bonus point, the Leinster 'A' coaches were content to see out the victory with that clinching kick.

Referee: Matthew O'Grady (England)