Leinster’s second string put hopeless Dragons to the sword
Despite 15 players away on international duty the home side powered past the visitors
Leinster’s Jordan Larmour leaves Dragons players for dead during their Pro14 clash at the RDS. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Leinster 54 Dragons 10
Dynasty rebuilt yet? Leinster have 15 bodies away on Ireland duty, they sent a gaggle of Academy forwards to Carton House on Thursday to antagonise the national pack and still the remaining gang utterly dominated these toothless Dragons.
A night for the thermals as Leinster gave their 10,384 loyal following clear money’s worth, despite a wobbly opening, with the bonus point wrapped in cotton wool before half-time.
The try count finished 8-1.
Ross Byrne and a few others justified what Leo Cullen is up to this season. Byrne remains a few bodies off an Ireland cap and technically he is third choice outhalf in his own club.
Forget that. The 22-year-old is providing a level of efficiency to this Leinster campaign that has them with seven wins from nine Pro 14 outings. He has been Cullen’s number 10 throughout and will remain so as Joey Carbery recovers from a fractured wrist and Johnny Sexton is minded for a higher purpose.
The accuracy of his cross-field kick-pass is already known. He goes to this trump card more than the Canterbury Crusaderes new backs coach ever did. And that was plenty. If it the shoe fits, Byrne had a hand or foot in everything positive.
The Dragons, under former Leinster and Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, could not live with a pack so ruthlessly whipped into controlled frenzy by Scott Fardy.
The Wallaby flanker may be on a pension run in Dublin but his move to second row is reaping sufficient dividend as we clock into December.
They needed Fardy on this bitterly cold night as Ross Molony hurt his knee in the early exchanges and was replaced by a blow hard Ian Nagle who needed to be replaced by Jack Conan before the end.
No such problem for the future Dr Josh Murphy. Leinster have themselves a genuine blindside. Murphy smashed a load of rucks and carried like a bull, with the 22-year-old’s first start capped by a try when Fardy and Max Deegan hoofed him over the whitewash on 31 minutes.
Gavin Henson (remember him?) got the scoreboard clicking with a nifty drop goal on three minutes. Then the Dragons number eight James Benjamin exposed some ragged Leinster defence as Henson made it 10-zip with 11 minutes played.
That was all these poor visitors had to offer.
Jamison Gibson-Park showed and dived for the first try after some piano shifting by the Murphy’s, Josh and Jordi, and a smooth line break by Ross Byrne before Reid’s chip found Fergus McFadden.
The machine, now oiled, was motoring as Isa Nacewa returned from his messiest start to a Leinster season since he smashed his arm in 2008 to stroll over on 27 minutes and again on 52 minutes.
The game was tied in a neat bow when Deegan profited from the sweetest of Byrne kicks to McFadden. The veteran Irish winger found the rookie number eight with the inside ball. 28-10 turned into 35-10 when Dragons fullback Angus O’Brien was sin binned by referee Sam Grove-White for slapping down Fardy’s try scoring pass to Deegan.
Two flashes of brilliance by Jordan Larmour, a fortuitous try and thrilling break to create one for Rory O’Loughlin, broke the half century.
The lack of competitiveness is bad for Pro14 business but that’s a Welsh problem that they don’t seem able nor interested in solving.
Scoring sequence – 3 mins: G Henson dg, 0-3; 11 mins: J Benjamin try, 0-8; G Henson con, 0-10; 16 mins: J Gibson-Park try, 5-10; R Byrne con, 7-10; 27 mins: I Nacea try, 12-10; R Byrne con, 14-10; 31 mins: Josh Murphy try, 19-10; R Byrne con, 21-10; 32 mins: M Deegan try, 26-10; R Byrne con, 28-10; 47 mins: Pen try, 35-10; 52 mins: I Nacewa try, 40-10; R Byrne con, 42-10; 70 mins: J Larmour try, 47-10; C Marsh con, 49-10; 75 mins: R O’Loughlin try, 54-10.
LEINSTER: J Larmour; F McFadden, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, I Nacewa (capt); R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; E Byrne, S Cronin, M Bent; R Molony, S Fardy; Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, M Deegan.
Replacements: I Nagle for R Molony (7 mins), R Strauss for S Cronin for E Byrne, A Porter for M Bent (all 48 mins), C O’Brien for I Nacewa (53 mins), N McCarthy for J Gibson-Park (55 mins), C Marsh for R Byrne (60 mins), J Conan for I Nagle (67 mins).
DRAGONS: A O’Brien; J Rosser, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt; G Henson, S Pretorius; S Hobbs, E Shipp, L Fairbrother; J Davies, M Screech; A Wainwright, O Griffiths (capt), J Benjamin.
Replacements: R Landman for J Davies (53 mins), G Ellis for E Shipp, L Garrett for S Hobbs (both 63 mins), D babos for S Pretorius, A Robson for G henson, C Edwards for A Hewitt (all 65 mins).
Referee: S Grove-White (SRU).