Clinical Leinster maintain unbeaten start in away win over Glasgow

Champions secure their fifth consecutive URC win ahead of international break

Jack Conan celebrates Ed Byrne scoring a try. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Jack Conan celebrates Ed Byrne scoring a try. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

 

Glasgow Warriors 15 Leinster 31

Slated to be Leinster’s most difficult assignment of the season, Leo Cullen’s team passed this United Rugby Championship (URC) with flying colours, or perhaps most appositely with a gritty, hard nosed performance against a fired-up Glasgow Warriors team. Victory means that Leinster go through the first block of five matches unbeaten.

There were one or two issues around the set piece, losing a few lineouts and giving up a couple of scrum penalties but this was an impressive win. Rónan Kelleher had an outstanding game in the loose and at the breakdown and was a deserved man of the match; in the van of a hard working performance from the pack to which everyone contributed.

Behind the scrum Garry Ringrose and James Lowe were prominent on both sides of the ball while Hugo Keenan would have run Kelleher close for the game’s standout player. The halfbacks Luke McGrath and Ross Byrne kept their team going forward.

A fundamental difference between the teams was that Glasgow had opportunities, Leinster took them. The home side had plenty of possession and field position but they couldn’t match Leinster’s ruthlessness. The Scottish side lacked composure.

In the opening throes of the contest Leinster used the full expanse of the pitch to probe, retaining possession without making any great inroads until Glasgow blinked defensively and transgressed at a ruck. Ross Byrne was unerring from long range to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.

It got even better on seven minutes with a stunning individual try from hooker Rónan Kelleher. Dan Leavy got the ball away in a tackle, Adam Byrne’s pass sent Kelleher scampering down the touchline but the hooker still had plenty to do. He fended off the first defender, stepped inside another and then rode the tackle of a third Glasgow player to touch down. Ross Byrne’s conversion was a beauty.

Glasgow were handed a route back into the game through Leinster’s indiscipline, the Irish province conceding several penalties, one of which Glasgow fullback Ross Thompson kicked to reduce the deficit to 10-3. A couple of turnovers gave the home side further traction and they hammered away bringing play into their opponents 22 but Leinster worked hard defensively to avoid a definitive breach.

The champions then demonstrated the quality they possess, powerful and direct in their carrying before James Lowe’s footwork and offload paved the way for a try from Hugo Keenan. Ross Byrne’s conversion made it 17-3 but the half was to have a sting in the tail for the visitors.

Keenan was penalised incorrectly when competing for a high ball with Thompson on the intervention of television match official Jon Mason, Leinster number eight Jack Conan then received a yellow card at a ruck metres from the line and from a second tap penalty Jack Dempsey forced his way over from close range. Thompson’s conversion allowed Glasgow to go in at the interval just 17-10 behind.

Leinster survived being short handed on the resumption until Conan’s return and then on 52 minutes struck for a third try. Keenan was twice involved, the first with a superb break, the second with a lovely overhead scoring pass to Adam Byrne. Ross Byrne kicked a fine conversion from the touchline to push the visitors out to 24-10.

Several replacements had brought energy to Leinster’s patterns but it would be churlish not to mention the excellent work of Dan Leavy, Cian Healy and the outstanding Kelleher who put in significant shifts in a hugely abrasive forward battle.

Replacement hooker Dan Sheehan burrowed over for his team’s fourth and bonus point try, his third in two matches in a week he was named in the Ireland squad for the November test series. Ross Byrne maintained his 100 per cent success rate on the night.

There was enough time for Jamison-Gibson Park to receive a yellow card and replacement Lewis Bean to barge over for a try. The manner in which the Glasgow players celebrated, exuberantly, was strangely incongruous with the scoreboard.

Scoring sequence: 4 mins: R Byrne penalty, 0-3; 7 mins: Kelleher try, R Byrne penalty, 0-10; 15 mins: Thompson penalty, 3-10; 27 mins: Keenan try, R Byrne penalty, 3-17; 38 mins: Dempsey try, Thompson conversion, 10-17. Half-time: 10-17. 52 mins: A Byrne try, R Byrne conversion, 10-24; 61 mins: Sheehan try, R Byrne conversion, 10-31; 79 mins: Bean try, 15-31.

Glasgow Warriors: R Thompson, K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson, R McLean; D Weir, A Price; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson; R Harley, R Gray; R Wilson (capt), R Darge, J Dempsey.

Replacements: G Turner for Matthews half-time; O Kebble for Bhatti 45 mins; E Pieretto for Z Fagerson 54 mins; C Forbes for Weir 57 mins; M Fagerson for Darge 62 mins; N Grigg for Tuipulotu 70 mins; G Horne for Price 70 mins; L Bean for Harley 75 mins.

Leinster Rugby: H Keenan; A Byrne, G Ringrose, Ciarán Frawley, J Lowe; R Byrne, L McGrath (capt); C Healy, Rónan Kelleher, T Furlong; R Molony, R Baird; C Doris, D Leavy, J Conan.

Replacements: D Toner for Baird 50 mins; J van der Flier for Leavy 50 mins; D Sheehan for Kelleher 54 mins; E Byrne for Healy 54 mins; M Ala’alatoa for Furlong 54 mins; J Gibson-Park for McGrath 62 mins; R Ruddock for Doris 66 mins; J Osborne for Ringrose 69 mins.

Yellow card: J Conan (Leinster) 38 mins; J Gibson-Park (Leinster) 78 mins.

Referee: C Evans (Wales)

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