URC leaders Leinster prove too strong for Dragons
United Rugby Championship leaders Leinster had too much for an industrious Dragons side in a 43-14 bonus point win at the RDS.
Harry Byrne started and finished the first half’s try-scoring, establishing a 26-7 half-time lead. Dragons captain Rhodri Williams crossed to split scores from Luke McGrath and Rhys Ruddock.
Jordan Larmour and JJ Hanrahan exchanged tries before Leinster’s 14th straight league victory – and 10th with a bonus – was wrapped up by late efforts from replacements Rob Russell and Charlie Tector.
Dave Kearney threatened an early try which was scored in the third minute by a stretching Byrne, who profited from quick recycling.
The wind-backed Dragons messed up two maul opportunities, following a Will Reed penalty miss, with the first of them seeing Ross Molony rip possession away.
The ever-alert McGrath read a 25th-minute loop move from Dragons, pinching a pass from Reed to score from halfway and Byrne converted.
McGrath’s opposite number Williams lifted his side with a well-taken seven-pointer, sniping over from a ruck to make it 14-7.
However, Leinster pocketed their bonus point by the interval, skipper Ruddock finishing off a pacey break and a late onslaught saw Liam Turner send Byrne over from close range.
The injury-enforced loss of Jack Dixon was a further setback for Dragons, who allowed Larmour to break down the blindside of a ruck and supply a quality finish in the corner.
Nice handling between Rhodri Jones and Brodie Coghlan threatened a Dragons try in response, but Leo Cullen’s side held firm through 19 phases.
Although a Jack Boyle turnover added to the Welsh outfit’s frustration, they doubled their tally when Steff Hughes’ neat offload, which initially struck Hanrahan’s head, bounced up for the Kerryman to go in under the posts.
Sparking Leinster’s strong finish, Jimmy O’Brien countered impressively from a kick, linking with Lee Barron who put Russell over for his eighth score of the season.
Fellow Academy player Tector opened his try account for the province with their seventh in the final minute. Kearney used a Barron turnover to kick through and Tector, having regained possession, powered away from Jordan Williams to score.
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