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Pirates Hand Leinster Heavy Defeat

Pirates Hand Leinster Heavy Defeat

Leinster suffered their first defeat in this season’s British & Irish Cup when they went down 43-12 to the Cornish Pirates in Sunday’s Pool A clash at a chilly Mennaye Field.

After opening their defence of their British & Irish Cup title with an entertaining 54-31 win over Currie, the Cornish Pirates met early Pool A pacesetters Leinster.

A late penalty from Shaun Berne gave Leinster a dramatic 12-10 win at Donnybrook when the sides met in last season's competition.

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Fired up by memories of that defeat, the Cornish side raced into an early 7-0 lead here, after a try from Tyrone Holmes was converted by Johnny Bentley.

The impressive Bentley then crossed the whitewash himself, following a well-worked move involving Drew Locke just moments later.

Bentley again added the points and in doing so doubled his side's lead, before slotting over an 18th minute penalty to make it 17-0 to the hosts.

The deficit injected life into Leinster and their hard work was rewarded through centre Noel Reid who capped off a fine back-line move with a try, though Ian Madigan's conversion attempt fell wide of the target.

Crucially, the Pirates upped the ante and secured three further tries before the interval through Wes Davies, Rhodri McAtee and Tom Luke – with Bentley adding two conversions – to give themselves a seemingly unassailable 36-5 half-time lead.

Credit to Colin McEntee's charges, they fought back bravely in the second half and their efforts were rewarded with a late try from replacement winger Michael Keating.

The score came from breakaway effort where Keating virtually ran the length of the pitch. Another replacement Ian McKinley tagged on the conversion, but by that time the Pirates had added a penalty try to their haul.

It was a resounding triumph for the defending champions who are definitely one of the teams to beat in this season's British & Irish Cup.

Leinster will lick their wounds and take on the Ireland Under-20s in a friendly at Donnybrook this Wednesday (kick-off 1pm), before resuming their cup campaign with a home tie against Worcester Warriors in four weeks' time.

The Pirates now have a one-point lead at the top of Pool A, with Leinster, who have played a game more, in second place.

Referee: Terry Hall (England)