A strong second half surge propelled Leinster ‘A’ to a 45-13 bonus point win over Ealing Trailfinders in Pool 1 of the British & Irish Cup tonight.
This was the third encounter between Leinster 'A' and the English Championship outfit, with Ealing beaten twice – 49-8 in Dublin and 14-13 at home – during the pool stages of the 2013/14 competition.
Following back-to-back wins over Rotherham Titans and Moseley this season, the province were expected to cement their place at the summit of the pool table, and they moved the ball at great pace during the early exchanges at Donnybrook.
The visitors displayed ferocious intensity in defence, though, and the Blues found it difficult initially to break the down their stubborn opponents. They eventually broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when the reliable Cathal Marsh converted a close range penalty.
Ealing responded to the concession in determined fashion. Their outside centre Sam Stanley made an incisive run through the heart of the Leinster 'A' rearguard. With the try-line in sight, he attempted to pick out full-back James Love with an audacious offload, but the outstretched hand of Love's opposite number – Cian Kelleher – came to the hosts' rescue.
Ealing did level matters with a 13th minute penalty from scrum half Alex Davies, before Marsh's second successful strike restored his side's lead at the end of the first quarter.
Davies squared things up for a second time with a penalty near the half hour mark, but crucially Leinster 'A' found a way through for the game's opening try just two minutes before the interval. At the end of an extended attacking passage inside the 22, prop Peter Dooley secured a pushover try and Marsh's conversion made it 13-6.
Just five minutes after the restart, Hugh Hogan and Shaun Berne's side increased their advantage to 12 points. Gavin Thornbury received the ball in an advanced position and offloaded for his second row partner Tadhg Beirne to finish smartly out wide on the left.
After consulting with the touch judge, Welsh referee Craig Evans awarded the try and then the floodgates suddenly began to open up. Indeed, Leinster 'A' had the bonus point in the bag with 24 minutes left to play.
Hooker Bryan Byrne played a major part in the third try on 54 minutes, his strong run taking him up close to the line. After chasing down the loose ball, powerful winger Darragh Fanning managed to cross the whitewash.
Indeed, Fanning turned provider for the province's next score, as momentum helped Colm O'Shea to add his name to the scoresheet. The Clontarf clubman's confidence was boosted by this five-pointer, and he added a second try on the hour mark following an exceptional individual run.
It was at this point that Leinster 'A' began to unload their bench, but it did little to dampen the rampant nature of their play. Full-back Kelleher had been a lively presence throughout the course of the game, and he finished off a sweeping attacking move in the right corner 14 minutes from time.
For the fourth time from six conversion attempts, Marsh was off target, but with the result already wrapped up, it was only a minor concern for the Leinster 'A' coaching staff.
Industrious number 8 Chris York grabbed a consolation try for Ealing, which was converted in clinical fashion by Love from the right wing, but a try from replacement Royce Burke-Flynn in the final play was the icing on the cake for the Blues' third consecutive victory.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)