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Leinster ‘A’ Run Nine Tries Past Plymouth

Leinster ‘A’ Run Nine Tries Past Plymouth

Cathal Marsh and Sam Coghlan Murray were in fine form as their combined tally of 32 points helped defending champions Leinster ‘A’ to round off their British & Irish Cup Pool 5 run with a nine-try 59-26 victory over Plymouth Albion.

Although they had already booked their place in the knockout stages of the competition, a fifth group triumph was required if Leinster 'A' were to stand any chance of securing a home quarter-final.

Girvan Dempsey's young side did their best on the day and while they finish top of Pool 5, the other pool winners – Doncaster Knights, Worcester Warriors, Rotherham Titans and Bristol – all boast better points totals, so the title holders are facing an away match in Monday's quarter-final draw.

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Plymouth, who included Waterford native Eoghan Grace in a strong starting line-up, tried to force the issue in the opening moments, but by the 14th minute of the contest, a rampant Leinster 'A' had already bagged their bonus point.

Centre Garry Ringrose broke forcefully from deep three minutes in, before offloading to back rower Jordan Coghlan for a simple try under the posts.

Cathal Marsh converted and with each Leinster 'A' player displaying ferocious intent, the floodgates were already beginning to open.

Neat combination play from Steve Crosbie and Billy Dardis enabled UCD's speedy winger Sam Coghlan Murray to cross in the left corner for a converted score six minutes later, and this was followed by a powerful Ben Marshall five-pointer.

A fine individual run by scrum half and captain Luke McGrath was halted by the Plymouth rearguard, just shy of the 15-minute mark, but when the play was recycled, Coghlan Murray (pictured below) was in the right place to finish off excellent approach work from Crosbie and Ringrose for his second try of the day.

Marsh was off target from the kicking tee for the very first time. However, with 26 points now separating the teams, it seemed unlikely that missed kicks would have a major bearing on the final outcome.

Indeed, it came as no surprise when try number five arrived at the tail end of the first quarter, and this time it was winger Cian Kelleher's turn to get in on the scoring act.

Marsh added further to his own tally by splitting the posts with the touchline conversion and with his confidence levels now sky high, the St Mary's College out-half served up a clinical seven-point salvo on 23 minutes.

It was fast becoming a damage limitation exercise for the visitors. Nonetheless, when the 34th minute sin-binning of Peadar Timmins provided Plymouth with a numerical advantage for the remainder of the opening period, inside centre Marc Koteczky drove over for an impressive try.

Out-half Lawrence Rayner's subsequent conversion enhanced their total, and meant that the Leinster 'A' been reduced to 33 points (40-7) by the interval.

There was a fresh look to the Leinster 'A' pack upon the resumption, as James Tracy, new signing Nicolaas 'Maks' van Dyk and Tadhg Beirne were all introduced by the Blues.

Plymouth chose the half-time break as an ideal time to shuffle their own side, though, and in addition to opening half substitute Luke Chapman, the remaining six replacements also entered the field after the restart.

Because of these wholesale changes, the early exchanges were somewhat tame. Plymouth did threaten to break through from a 50th minute maul, only for Leinster 'A' to be awarded a penalty when Albion lock Rhys Oakley was yellow carded for a stamping offence.

Still, an improved Plymouth continued to cause problems for the home defence and at the end of an intense period of play inside the province's 22, flanker Rob Langley powered over for a converted try.

The tempo that Leinster 'A' had shown early on had dropped off to an extent, but they responded in emphatic fashion with a seventh try just shy of the hour mark. Coghlan Murray turned provider on this occasion as he put his UCD colleague Ringrose through for the score that his performance deserved.

An injury to Toby Howley-Berridge reduced Plymouth to 14 players, with 15 minutes remaining, and Coghlan Murray soon registered his hat-trick to the left of the posts.

The sides were evened up by the sin-binning of Ross Molony inside the closing ten minutes of play, however, and Plymouth replied with a hard-earned try from replacement Tom Heard.

Langley bagged his brace deep into injury-time to give Plymouth a losing bonus point but with replacement Beirne preceding this score with a five-pointer of his own, Leinster 'A' were comfortable winners in the end.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)