Leinster ‘A’ reeled off four tries in each half as they ran out comprehensive 57-10 bonus point winners over Cardiff Blues ‘A’ at Energia Park this afternoon.
The province's strong start to the new Celtic Cup development competition continued with a second successive bonus point victory, and today’s eight-try display moves them onto 10 points at the top of the Irish Conference table.
Jordan Larmour played in these teams' British & Irish Cup clash at the same Donnybrook venue last October, a game Leinster ‘A’ won 29-10. Keen for a blend of youth and experience against Richie Rees’ Blues, Leinster ‘A’ head coach Peter Smyth included another Ireland international, Adam Byrne, in the back-three alongside captain Jack Kelly and Michael Silvester.
Out-half Harry Byrne, who scored 18 points in last week’s 43-28 success away to Ulster ‘A’, opened the scoring with a ninth-minute penalty, having attempted a cross-field kick to his namesake Adam before that. Cardiff made the trip across on the back of a 37-21 win over Dragons ‘A’.
Cardiff lock James Down was sin-binned on the quarter hour mark, and Leinster ‘A’ responded with their first try at the end of a lengthy attacking spell. Scrum half Patrick Patterson, the latest Blackrock College graduate to make his mark at provincial ‘A’ level, touched down against the base of the post, with his half-back partner Byrne converting.
Before Down came back on, the hosts had added try number two. Ben Jones’ box kick was blocked down by number 8 Ronan Foley who hacked the ball through and won the footrace against Sion Bennett to score a smashing individual try. The conversion followed for a 17-0 lead.
The bonus point was secured by half-time thanks to further tries from lively hooker Ronan Kelleher and Patterson. Kelleher plunged over from a powerful lineout maul and then it was his devastating 33rd-minute burst up the left wing – and well-timed offload – that sent the supporting Patterson over for a try which he converted himself.
Leinster ‘A’ were eager to add to their 31-0 half-time lead when play resumed. Josh Murphy and Peter Maher entered the fray and just two minutes had elapsed when Foley joined Patterson on a brace of tries with a clinical drive over the line from close range.
Harry Byrne turned creator soon after, dangling a pinpoint kick out to the right wing for Adam Byrne to collect and dot down for a deserved try. The young number 10 added his fifth successful conversion for a 13-point tally before making way for David Hawkshaw.
Cardiff’s own replacements gave them more of a foothold in Leinster ‘A’ territory. The home defence initially held out following Ben Jones’ penalty to touch in the 56th minute, but the Blues managed to force a series of scrum penalties, leading to the sin-binning of prop Michael Milne and an eventual five-pointer from flanker Bennett.
Blindside Oisin Dowling responded with the province’s seventh try, popping up at the end of a well-constructed attack, and Hawkshaw opened his account with the conversion. Winger Tom Williams crossed in the right corner to take Cardiff into double figures, but Leinster ‘A’ fittingly had the final say through the equally fleet-footed Silvester.
Referee: Rob O'Sullivan (IRFU)