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Leinster ‘A’ Complete Unbeaten Pool Run

Leinster ‘A’ Complete Unbeaten Pool Run

London Welsh snatched a late 24-24 draw in an entertaining British & Irish Cup game at Donnybrook on Sunday, with the result being enough to give Leinster ‘A’ a home quarter-final.

Leinster 'A' began brightly in cold conditions but could not make their earlier territorial dominance count. Eventually though, the home side's pressure told and out-half Noel Reid slotted home a 15th minute penalty for a 3-0 lead.

With Neilus Keogh probing on a series of powerful bursts, Colin McEntee's men began to assert themselves.

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A 28th minute burst from David Kearney almost reaped the game's opening try but he was blocked yards from the London Welsh try-line.

From the resulting scrum the hosts applied some more pressure but a Leo Auva'a pick and drive from the base of the scrum was held up over the line.

Moments later, powerful hooker Aaron Dundon crashed over from close in after 31 minutes to score the game's first five-pointer, with Reid missing the conversion.

Seven minutes later Kearney gathered a Brendan Macken pass – after a strong surge forward by the centre – and sprinted clear to touch down. This time Reid landed the conversion to extend the province's lead to 15 points.

With half-time approaching, Reid added his second penalty of the afternoon but the visitors struck with a try in injury-time through centre James Lewis, with Alex Davies adding the conversion, to make it 18-7 at the break.

The Londoners began the second half strongly and were camped in the Leinster 'A' 22 for the opening ten minutes of the half.

However, a series of attacks were quelled and Reid punished a handling error with a 58th minute penalty to extend the hosts' advantage to 14 points.

A breakaway try from Ed Siggery in the 63rd minute, converted once more by Davies, brought London Welsh back into contention and the sides were level five minutes later when Davies once more converted a try by Will Hurrell.

London Welsh were reduced to 14 men when winger Liam Gibson was adjudged to have high tackled Andrew Conway and the hosts punished another error.

This time it was the boot of replacement out-half Cathal Marsh who sent over a difficult penalty into the Bective end of the ground three minutes from time.

Davies rescued the draw for the visitors though, kicking a 79th minute penalty, but Leinster 'A' had done enough to go through to the last-eight as winners of Pool 3 on 16 points, with Bedford Blues (12 points) their closest challengers.

The Leinster 'A' side's qualification for the quarter-finals means all three competing provinces will be in the knockout stages in the New Year. Ulster Ravens topped Pool 6 and Munster 'A', who finished second in Pool 2, were one of the best runners-up.

The top four sides based on pool performances will have home advantage for the quarter-final clashes on Saturday, January 21.

Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)