Leinster run in nine tries to lord it over the Kings
Leo Cullen’s side close in on winning conference after another bonus-point win
Leinster’s Ed Byrne celebrates scoring a try during the Guinness Pro 14 game against the Southern Kings at the RDS. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Leinster 59 Southern Kings 19
With Leinster 1-200 and with a handicap of -37, who was going to hand over their pay cheque to bet on a Southern Kings fright night in the RDS. With injuries and international players unavailable Leinster have become specialists at fielding a second- or third-string team and still maintaining the franchise name as a hard currency.
Friday night was no different. Leinster went into the match against the South African club on 63 points, 22 points ahead of their nearest Conference B rivals Edinburgh. With five rounds of regular Pro 14 league rugby remaining before the knockout phase the mathematics are currently Leinster’s dearest friend. Victory against Cheetahs next week would keep them on top of the Conference regardless of the outcome of the final four games.
To that end a frisky home side took off at a high-tempo gallop, the sparse crowd warming to Noel Reid’s under the posts try after six minutes. How easy was that? A few phases and the Kings opened up.
To make a game of it and stir the homesters into giving the match more focused attention, the Kings took hold of the ball for the next seven minutes in which Bjorn Basson turned Fergus McFadden and touched down on 13 minutes for 7-5 to silence the crowd. Basson was sent home when South Africa played Ireland in 2010 for testing positive for an adverse finding and was later cleared.
The Kings added another try seven minutes later with scrumhalf Sarel Pretorious sliding in under Mick Kearney and his namesake Bader Pretorious converting for 7-12.
Leinster were more embarrassed at trailing than shaken by it and within a four-minute spell from 24 minutes to 28 minutes two rare tries from loosehead prop Ed Byrne took Leinster to within one score of a bonus point. Byrne had just three Leinster tries to his name before Friday night.
It was outhalf Ross Byrne, who put centre Reid through in a right channel for his second try just before half-time for the bonus point, the first half closing with Leinster leading 24-12.
But Leinster were game to make a contest of it and again slack play in midfield allowed outhalf Bader Pretorious break and put fullback Ulrich Beyers through for a third Kings try and 24-19. Queue more red Leinster faces. But the reaction was good, the Leinster gas went on and five minutes later Ross Byrne’s sidedoor flip to a charging Barry Daly put more daylight between the sides at 31-19.
Andrew Porter used his muscle to get on the score sheet just before the entire frontrow were replaced to nail it down for Leinster at 38-19 after 55 minutes.
From there on it was all Leinster reinforcing their dominance and building towards a bigger score, flanker Max Deegan adding to his two tries from last week by picking and leg driving for Leinster’s seventh try of the night on 65 minutes.
With last year’s outing against The Kings coming in at 64-7, Leinster were never going to equal it for the 10,435 ticket buyers in the RDS. The icing on the cake was the lively Patrick Patterson going over four minutes from the end and Rory O’Loughlin ending the masterclass three minutes later with the ninth Leinster try.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 6 mins: N Reid try, R Byrne con 7-0; 13: B Basson try 7-5; 20: S Pretorious try, B Pretorious con 7-12; 24: E Byrne try, R Byrne con 14-12; 28: E Byrne try 19-12; 37: N Reid Try 24-12. Half-time. 42: U Beyers try, B Pretorious con 24-19; 47: B Daly try, Byrne con 31-19; 55: A Porter try, Byrne con 38-19; 65: M Deegan try, Byrne con 45-19; 76: P Patterson try, Byrne con 52-19; 79: R O’Loughlin try, Byrne con 59-19.
LEINSTER: B Daly; F McFadden, C O’Brien, N Reid, J Lowe; R Byrne, H O’Sullivan; E Byrne, R Kelleher, A Porter; R Molony (Capt), M Kearney; J Murphy, M Deegan, C Doris.
Replacements: J Dunne for Kearney (42 mins); R O’Loughlin for Reid (51); J Treacy, P Dooley, V Abdaladze for Kelleher, E Byrne, Porter (all 56); J O’Brien for Daly (59); P Patterson for H O’Sullivan (64); S Fardy for Moloney (74).
SOUTHERN KINGS: U Beyers; Y Penxe, M Rokoua, B Klaasen, B Basson; B Pretorius, S Pretorius; A Tshakweni, M Willemse (capt), DJ Terblanche; S Greeff, A Van Schalkwyk; H Brown, M Burger, R Lerm.
Replacements: John Charles Astle for Greeff (11 mins); A Ntsila for Lerm (53); S Ferreira for Tshakweni, P Scholtz for Terblanche, M Banda for Beyers (all 57); T Krugger for Klaasen (58); S Ungerer for S Pretorious (63); A van Rooyen for Willemse (65).
Referee: S Grove-White (Scotland).