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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 23 June, 2018

Perfect start for Leinster as Cullen's men ease to five-try win at Rodney Parade

The eastern province were too good for the Dragons as they cruised to a bonus-point victory.

Jamison Gibson-Park's first-half try set Leinster on their way.
Jamison Gibson-Park's first-half try set Leinster on their way.
Image: Camerasport/Ashley Crowden/INPHO

Dragons 16

Leinster 39

LEINSTER’S FIRST CLASH in the new Guinness Pro14 saw them record a deserved bonus-point victory over the Dragons in Newport.

On a sunny afternoon near the Severn Bridge, Leinster scored tries through Jamison Gibson-Park, a penalty score, debutant Jordan Larmour, Dan Leavy and Cathal Marsh.

Dragons were awarded a penalty try of their own and Gavin Henson kicked three penalties, but Leo Cullen’s men were by far the better side, mainly thanks to their dominant forward pack.

On a pristine new pitch at Rodney Parade, Leinster started sloppily. Sean Cronin overthrew the first line-out, and Henson put the home side ahead with an 11th minute penalty.

Ross Byrne soon levelled the scores up, but the first quarter showed Cullen’s outfit were clearly in a game. It was a tight affair, but the opening score was then created by Isa Nacewa.

The Leinster skipper danced through a gap and though the ball was held up over the line, Gibson-Park picked the ball up from the back of the resulting scrum to dive over.

Byrne added the simple extras from in front of the posts and exchanged kicks with Henson to make it 13-6 at the break.

Jordan Larmour scores his side's third try Jordan Larmour scored on debut. Source: Camerasport/Ashley Crowden/INPHO

Revved up by Cullen, Leinster were a different animal after the break. Their forwards came to the party and quickly earned a penalty try after the Dragons sacked a driving maul.

Matthew Screech was yellow carded and the conversion was automatic. Then, five minutes later, Larmour was given an unopposed run to the line after finding the ball in space. Byrne couldn’t add the extras.

Leavy soon added the crucial fourth score with Byrne this time converting, and it opened up an entertaining final 15 minutes.

The Dragons got a consolation through a penalty score after Adam Byrne tackled a rampaging Ashton Hewitt high and received a yellow card.

Once again the extra two points were taken as a given, but Leinster had the last laugh with replacement Marsh diving over and converting his own score.

Dragons scorers:Try: Penalty
Penalties: Gavin Henson [3]

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Jamison Gibson Park, penalty, Jordan Larmour, Dan Leavy, Cathal Marsh
Conversions: Ross Byrne [2], Cathal Marsh [1]
Penalties: Ross Byrne [2]

DRAGONS: Kirchner; Hewitt, Morgan, Dixon (O’Brien 54), Amos; Henson, Davies (Knoyle 54, (Rosser 67); Harris (Garrett 54), Dee (Buckley 67), Brown (Fairbrother 50), Screech (Landman 54), Hill (capt), Thomas (Williams 71), Benjamin, Keddie

LEINSTER: Kearney; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, Nacewa (capt), Larmour (Daly 67); R Byrne (Marsh 72), Gibson-Park (McCarthy 61); Healy (E Byrne 50), Cronin (Tracy 50), Bent (Porter 50), Toner (Ryan 59), Fardy, Leavy, Van der Flier, Deegan (Conan 55)

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU).

Attendance: 6,133.

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Alex Bywater

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