The nickname “Assassins” for Leinster’s B&I Cup side was never going to stick but they did put a hit out on the English Championship outfit on Saturday night as all the tries that went missing at the RDS earlier showed up.
Pick of the bunch, for me anyway, was the first one. A light drizzle started shortly before kickoff so full-back Darren Hudson had his work cut out under an early high ball. It slipped from his grasp when he tried to catch it, but he kept his composure and nabbed it at the second attempt. Simple thing to do after that recovery would be return the compliment to his opposite number but he chose instead to chip it forward, catch it himself and drive ahead, jinking his way to a position where all he had to do was find Jordan Coughlan outside him for the opening score.
Hudson had a steady hand in the second one as well, finished this time by Brendan Macken, though with Noel Reid unable to convert either, the game still appeared to be a contest early in the second quarter at 10-6 to the home side before a Jack Conan try stretched the lead further before the break.
Then right from the kickoff in the second half it was Hudson’s hand again batting back the restart and from there Leinster secured the bonus point try courtesy of Sam Coghlan Murray. Two minutes later the very same fullback from St Mary’s RFC got his own fully deserved try, after a strong burst through the visiting defence by Macken.
As you can probably tell, Leeds were hardly at the races here when all was said and done. And it certainly didn’t help their cause that Leinster were able to call on so many unused players that had been on the subs bench in the Heineken Cup earlier! Already 5 tries down, it must have really added insult to injury to see Isaac Boss, Fionn Carr and Jordi Murphy take the field! And Leo Auva’a, who actually started and was only ever doing one thing with the ball when he had it, added a 6th try shortly afterwards.
We took the foot off the pedal from there on in, though Auva’a should have had his second when he dropped the ball over the line and Carr finished off a nice move out wide for try number seven. To their credit though, the visitors played right to the end and tries from substitutes Beck & Graham gave their side of the scoreboard some respectability.
Man of the Match was definitely Hudson for me, though there was to be a sting in the tail for him as a bad fall with two minutes to go seemed to have jarred an injury to his arm or shoulder and he had to be taken off. There were also good displays from Macken, Cooney, and Denton against his former club. And at out-half though Noel Reid was only 5 for 9 from the tee he showed some initiative in open play and hopefully he’ll have a good run in this competition.
But all in all a great evening’s bonus rugby for the Donnybrook crowd and a great bonus point in the bag for the trip to Pontypridd next week. JLP