Cardiff Blues 13 Leinster 14: Mike Ross and Cian Healy have been back to make a seamless return for Ireland if they are recalled for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against England.
Joe Schmidt is likely to take far more from this performance than Leinster counterpart Leo Cullen following another successful appearance for the two Ireland props.
Healy played until 13 minutes from time having been part of a Leinster scrum that dominated their hosts, by which time Ross had also taken the field, as replacement for Tadhg Furlong.
It was a workmanlike shift in defence for both amid torrential conditions and even more so when Jordi Murphy’s yellow card left the Leinster pack down a man for the final frantic eight minutes. Neither prop showed any ill-effects from their hamstring or knee injuries that have stopped them taking any part of the Six Nations thus far.
Given the modest displays of Nathan White and Jack McGrath, particularly at the scrum which is now perceived as a weakness among Ireland’s opponents, a recall for Twickenham looks on the cards for the front-rows.
“They were both in and out of camp but it was great to get them back. With Cian it was good to get him another 65 minutes and with Tadhg Furlong and Mike Ross, it was great to give them almost 40 minutes each,” said Cullen.
“Cian has missed a few periods with injuries so it’s just trying to get a clean run. If he manages to stay clear from injury for the rest of the season, he’ll get a good run of games and that will help his form.
He’s a quality player and such a huge part of Leinster’s success in the past eight or nine years. He is certainly champing at the bit to get back for Ireland and we would be delighted if he was involved.”
Hookers Sean Cronin and Richard Strauss could be forgiven for wayward throwing amid driving rain and near gale-force winds.
Neither Eoin Reddan nor Ian Madigan, who kicked nine points, managed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck while Fergus McFadden fumbled the best scoring chance and was then shown a yellow card. With the forwards going nowhere, McFadden latched onto Madigan’s cross-field kick only to lose possession over the line. Barely a minute later, the Ireland wing was binned for a reckless high challenge on Lloyd Williams as Blues threatened to break clear.
Jack Conan marked his return after three months out with an ankle injury with the opportunist break and pass to hand Isa Nacewa his seventh try of the season. But it was backs against the wall for 14-man Leinster after Josh Navidi’s try set up a tense climax.
Scorers for Cardiff:
Try – J Navidi. Con – R Patchell. Pens – G Anscombe 2
Scorers for Leinster:
Try – I Nacewa. Pens – I Madigan 3
R Patchell; A Cuthbert, C Allen (T James, 47) R Lee-Lo, B Scully; G Anscombe (Fish, 53), L Williams (capt) (T Williams, 70); T Davies (B Thyer, 50), K Dacey (Rees, 50), S Ma’afu (Filise, 50), J Hoeata (M Cook, 70), J Down, J Turnbull, E Jenkins (J Navidi, 63) , M Vosawai.
Z Kirchner; F McFadden, G Ringrose, B Te’o, I Nacewa (capt.); I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy (P Dooley, 67) , S Cronin (R Strauss, 44), T Furlong (M Ross, 44), M Kearney (T Denton, 53), H Triggs, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Conan.
Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).
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