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Leinster ‘A’ Seal Quarter-Final Place

Leinster ‘A’ Seal Quarter-Final Place

Second half tries from Bryan Byrne, Luke McGrath and Andrew Boyle saw Leinster ‘A’ secure their passage through to the knockout stages of the British & Irish Cup with a hard-earned 23-13 triumph over Moseley at Donnybrook.

Girvan Dempsey's charges needed a late surge to secure a 24-22 victory over the English Championship outfit at Billesley Common last October, and another tough encounter was anticipated against a side that are jointly coached by former Ireland centre Kevin Maggs.

The heavy downpour prior to kick-off at the Dublin 4 venue meant that it was difficult for either team to play an expansive brand of rugby, although the visitors did apply some early pressure in the Leinster 'A' half.

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The pool leaders managed to weather this early storm, and they were presented with an opportunity to take the lead nine minutes in when Welsh referee Daniel Jones awarded them a penalty on the 22-metre line.

It was expected that the usually reliable Cathal Marsh would comfortably slot his kick between the posts, but his effort drifted past the left-hand upright on this occasion.

This was something of a let-off for Moseley, but despite being forced on the back foot as the first half progressed, strong defensive work by the midfield pairing of Scott Armstrong and Greg King helped them to thwart a succession of Leinster 'A' attacks.

Left winger Matt Williams was also posing a significant threat when they did counter, but nevertheless, it was Leinster 'A' who looked set to open the evening's scoring.

A second strike at goal by Marsh in the 23rd minute was from a more suitable angle, but once again he was narrowly wide of the mark.

As the minutes passed by, the prospect of a scoreless opening period seemed extremely likely, but the 27th minute sin-binning of second row Greg Charlton left Moseley under pressure.

During this time, Marsh finally found his range – successful three-point attempts by the St. Mary's College clubman in the 32nd and 35th minutes respectively provided Leinster 'A' with a welcome six-point cushion as the interval approached.

His opposite number Will Hooley was also off target with a penalty attempt, but he was able to split the posts from 30 metres with the final kick of the half, leaving Moseley just 6-3 down as the action resumed.

After a largely uneventful first half, the play upon the resumption was much more eye-catching, and Moseley restored parity thanks to an expertly-converted penalty by Hooley in the 45th minute.

The Northampton Saints Academy out-half could not add to his personal haul when presented with opportunities at goal in the 49th and 51st minutes, but with Ben Marshall in the sin-bin during this juncture, Moseley were able to take full advantage.

A fine move across the Leinster 'A' line ended with right winger Mike Penn touching down to the left of the posts. With Hooley on hand to add the extras, Moseley were throwing the gauntlet down to their much-fancied opponents.

The response from Leinster 'A' was emphatic, however, as they narrowed the gap to just two points when hooker Bryan Byrne finished off a powerful maul inside the Moseley 22 just shy of the hour mark.

This was a confidence-boosting score for the reigning British & Irish Cup champions, and they sensed that further scores might be on the way.

Moseley were doing their level best to hold onto their slender 13-11 advantage, but they powerless in their efforts to stop scrum half and captain Luke McGrath from registering a fantastic solo try with 15 minutes remaining.

Marsh could not add to his side's tally from the tricky conversions that followed these scores, but he made no mistake from the right-hand touchline on 72 minutes after replacement Andrew Boyle crossed the whitewash following an extended period of pressure in the Moseley half.

Unfortunately, there was not enough time for Leinster 'A' to conjure up a bonus point score, but the strong second half showing ensured that they maintained their 100% record in this season's competition and booked their place in the quarter-finals with one game to spare.

Referee: Daniel Jones (Wales)