Leinster romp to seven-try win against Dragons

Leinster romp to seven-try win against Dragons

Leinster 52 - 10 Dragons

By Brendan O'Brien at The RDS

A Leinster side bulging with big-name internationals made short work of Bernard Jackman's Dragons to claim a second Guinness PRO14 win of the season at the RDS on Saturday night.

Six of the province's starters were making their first appearances of the campaign – Jonathan Sexton, Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose and James Ryan among them – but it was the lesser-heralded scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park who stole the show.

A former New Zealand Maori, Gibson-Park will become eligible for Ireland before next year's World Cup in Japan and he did his career prospects no harm with a sensational turn here that included two tries and a critical hand in three more.

Leinster scored seven five-pointers in all. Yeah, it was that easy.

Dragons were coming off their Round 2 defeat of Southern Kings at Rodney Parade, a victory that brought a run of almost 12 months without a PRO14 win to a belated and welcome end, but they always looked like being easy meat for the European and league champions.

Leinster took just over four minutes to cross the try line but Garry Ringrose's touch down was scratched from the record books thanks to an illegal clearout at an earlier ruck by loosehead prop Ed Byrne that was confirmed by the TMO.

Leo Cullen's side manufactured plenty other opportunities. Some of their interplay, movement and pace was exceptional at times but they lacked the killer touch for a while, most notably when Robbie Henshaw busted through the line but never looked for support.

Credit to Dragons, too, in a spell in which Bernard Jackman's players defended gamely.

The problem was that they were doing so much of it.

Sean Cronin found a gaping hole after ten minutes and the hooker's pace and angle of approach from just beyond the 22 was such that he sliced through it almost untouched to claim the game's first score. Sexton obliged with the extras.

Another twenty minutes passed before the Ireland and Lions 10 added the next score with a penalty in front of the posts but Dragons followed that up with a superb five minutes of attacking rugby which ended only when they were penalised for holding on just inches out.

It was a passage all the more wondrous for the fact that it was their first attack of the evening.

Ten-zip down as the clock passed the 40th minute wasn't the worst scenario for the Welsh visitors, but the half ended disastrously for them and it stemmed from a yellow card for Ross Moriarty who was done for a late and needless challenge on Sexton.

Full payment was extracted soon after when Jack Conan cantered away from the back of a scrum underneath the Dragons' posts and played a lovely reverse pass for Josh van der Flier whose pace and power took him over the line with two defenders for company.

Sexton again added the two-point bonus to leave it 17-0 and, though Lewis got Dragons off the mark with a penalty on the restart, it was to be a brief respite in a second-half that went from bad to worse with the exception of full-back Jordan Williams' blazing run and try just past the hour.

That apart, it was one-way traffic. Same as the first-half, only heavier with Leinster aided by the fact that Dragons played a large chunk of the second period with 14 players after centre Hallam Amos left the field with injury.

Leinster were just so much more clinical than before with Gibson-Park scoring their third and fifth five-pointers and doing brilliantly to set Jordan Larmour (with a kick upfield) and Tadhg Furlong (with a sublime one-handed pass) up for two more.

The applause as he left the field with twelve minutes to go said it all.

Scott Fardy completed the business of note with the home side's seventh try a few minutes from the end and Noel Reid's conversion left it at 52-10 come the finish. The score when the sides met here last season was 54-10.

Not exactly the progress Jackman would have wished far as he seeks to turn around the fortunes of the Welsh region but a decent, if expected, evening's work for Leinster who now have 11 points from a possible 15 after three rounds.

Leinster: R Kearney; J Larmour, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, D Kearney; J Sexton, J Gibson-Park; E Byrne, S Cronin, A Porter, S Fardy, J Ryan, M Deegan, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Replacements: C Doris for Conan (26-36); B Byrne for Cronin, P Dooley for E Byrne and T Furlong for Porter (all 53); J Tomane for Henshaw, R Molony for Ryan and N Reid for Sexton (all 65); H O'Sullivan for Gibson-Park (68); C Doris for Conan (76).

Dragons: J Williams, D Howells, A Warren, J Dixon, H Amos, J Lewis, R Williams, B Harris, E Dee, L Fairbrother, M Screech, C Hill, A Wainwright, N Cudd, R Moriarty.

Replacements: R Bevington for Harris and B Nansen for Screech (both HT); O Griffiths for Wainright (48); T Knoyle for Williams, R Hibbard for Dee and B Harris for Fairbrother (all 51); A Robson for Lewis and J Sage for Dixon (both 60); L Brown for Harris (73).

Referee: Q Immelman (SARU).

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