Three tries in the final 12 minutes helped Leinster pull away for a deserved, if slightly flattering, 41-12 win over Connacht in their New Year’s Day interpro at the RDS Arena.
The general consensus would be that Connacht needed to start the better on a day like this, but the opposite happened after just 2 minutes when Liam Turner crossed over for his first Leinster try, spotting a gap off a first phase strike-play from the hosts. However fans fearing the worst needn’t have worried as Andy Friend’s side slowly grew into the game, led by a dominant set-piece with brothers Niall and Darragh Murray causing havoc with the Leinster lineout.
A deserved lead for Connacht soon followed thanks to a wonderful piece of brilliance from the in-form David Hawkshaw, breaking the first line of defence and then the would-be tacklers to score beside the posts. Carty made no mistake and the visitors took a 7-5 lead into the second quarter.
The lead didn’t last too long as Leinster, with a penalty advantage in front of the Connacht posts, opted to turn down the easy three and kick for the corner. The decision paid off with Brian Deeny scoring at the base of the ruck, and then their lead was stretched further as Jordan Larmour scored Leinster’s third try, capitalising on a unlucky bounce deep in the Connacht 22.
A 12 point lead became 5 just before the interval, again thanks to a Connacht attack that was gaining metres inside the Leinster 22. In the end it was Tom Farrell crossing over, capping one of his strongest performances in the Connacht green.
Just like the first half it was the hosts that started the stronger, with Larmour crossing for his second try. The score remained at 24-12 for the majority of the second half, with Connacht keeping Leinster scoreless despite a 10 minute sinbinning for Jack Carty. The best chance of the half for the side came when a pass out wide released by Byron Ralston but he came up just short of the line, when a try would’ve put a score between the sides.
The final 12 minutes saw Leinster find an extra gear as they ran over three tries against a tiring 14 men, after Jarrad Butler came off injured and all the substitutions had been made.
Next up for Connacht is what’s being defined as a ‘season-defining’ game against the Cell C Sharks next Saturday at The Sportsground.


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