Old and new guard shine for Leinster as Dragons downed

Leinster 37 Dragons 12: Isa Nacewa and Fergus McFadden led by example at the RDS on Saturday, when their combined tally of 27 points helped Leinster to a comprehensive victory over Newport Gwent Dragons in the Guinness Pro12.

The experienced duo were crucial in guiding Leo Cullen’s charges to a second successive league triumph, but the youthful exuberance of Garry Ringrose and Cathal Marsh also provided the hosts with a creative spark against their Welsh visitors. Try-scorer Marsh produced a man-of-the-match display in the Ballsbridge venue, and following their home and away defeats to the Dragons last season, the St Mary’s College man felt it was important to lay down a marker on their home patch. Marsh admitted: “That was the big focus this week. The fact that Dragons beat us twice last year, and they really bullied us in those games. We were just determined not to be bullied this year.

“Obviously, we were just focused on getting the win at the start, but when you have a few tries, and you’re a few points up, you’re definitely thinking to try and get that fifth point.

“Because the bonus points are going to be important come the end of the year.”

McFadden had taken over place-kicking duties from Nacewa for this encounter, and he was on target from a brace of penalties inside the first-quarter.

Reliable Dragons out-half Jason Tovey had also split the posts on 16 minutes, though, and at the end of an extended spell inside the Leinster ‘22’ seven minutes later, scrum-half Sarel Pretorius squeezed over the line for a converted try. However, Leinster regained the lead with a well-worked Nacewa five-pointer, and from an excellent chipped pass by Marsh four minutes before the interval, the former Fiji international touched down for his second try of the afternoon.

This provided the home team with a 10-point cushion (20-10) at the break, and McFadden extended Leinster’s advantage with his third successful penalty after 54 minutes. A routine Tovey three-pointer kept the Dragons within touching distance entering the final-quarter, but when excellent approach work by Luke McGrath and Ben Te’o allowed Ringrose to cross over for his opening Leinster try at first-team level, the outcome was effectively placed beyond any doubt.

Indeed, with 13 minutes still to play, a bonus-point was within the reach of Leinster, and from the subsequent attack, Marsh raced through impressively for his first score at senior grade.

Scorers for Leinster:

Tries: I Nacewa 2, G Ringrose, C Marsh. Pens: F McFadden 3. Cons: F McFadden 3, I Nacewa 1.

Scorers for Newport Gwent Dragons:

Try: S Pretorius. Pens: J Tovey 2. Con: J Tovey 1.

LEINSTER:

I Nacewa; F McFadden, B Te’o, N Reid, G Ringrose; C Marsh, I Boss; M Bent, A Dundon, M Moore; R Molony, M McCarthy; D Ryan, J Van Der Flier, R Ruddock.

Replacements:

J Hagan for Moore (24), C Kelleher for McFadden (34-38), P Dooley for Bent (52), J Tracy for Dundon, L McGrath for Boss (both 61), D Leavy for Ryan (63), Bent for Hagan (67-70), Kelleher for Reid (69), T Beirne for McCarthy (70), R Byrne for Marsh (77).

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS:

C Meyer; T Prydie, R Wardle, A Warren, A Hewitt; J Tovey, S Pretorius; B Stankovich, H Gustafson, B Harris; M Crosswell, R Landman; J Thomas, J Benjamin, E Jackson.

Replacements:

A Brew for Wardle, M Screech for Thomas (both h-t), A O’Brien for Prydie (49), E Dee for Gustafson, N Cudd for Benjamin (both 55), P Price for Stankovich (55-63 &69), S Knight for Harris (63), J Jones for Pretorius (69).

Referee:

I Davies (WRU).

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