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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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'It could easily have been 70 points, but it wasn't, that's the one bit of solace we'll take'

Connacht were hit for six and suffered more injuries in key positions.

Leinster celebrate their sixth try.
Leinster celebrate their sixth try.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

AFTER SUCH A thoroughly one-sided contest, there was little point in Andy Friend lingering on anything but the slender silver linings for Connacht.

An 11-42 home loss in an inter-pro is a thorough drubbing. And yet, after Leinster ran up a bonus point in 29 minutes and entered half-time leading 6-35, there was an uneasy feeling that the match could have gotten extremely ugly for a Connacht side with a body count rising almost by the minute.

Leinster had the territory to squeeze out more than the one try they managed in the second half, but their forward-led push was met by a gutsy resistance.

“The game was dead at that stage,” said Friend post-match.

“It could easily have been 70 points, but it wasn’t, that’s the one bit of solace we’ll take from that.

“We did come out in the second half and showed a lot more fight, a lot more spirit. but you can’t give a quality side like that five tries.”

Already stretched for tight five options pre-match, to the Australian it seemed like losing tighthead Finlay Bealham to an early injury was a final straw. Just as Kyle Sinckler was a telling blow to England’s World Cup final hopes, the loss of Bealham rocked the home side onto the back foot in the season’s first inter-pro.

I actually thought the first few minutes we looked good. But, I just said it at half-time, pretty much as soon as Finlay Bealham went off it looked like he was our Kryptonite and we lost all energy after that.

“That last 40 we showed a lot more spirit and fight. It’s five tries to nil in the first-half, one apiece in the second. They’re a quality side and we can’t let them play like that.”

The head coach heading back east was more than satisfied with how the night unfolded.

sean-obrien-down-injured Sean O'Brien can be added to Connacht's injury woes with Europe looming. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“Our ability to win the contacts both sides of the ball gave us the momentum, “said Leo Cullen.

“We didn’t do anything flashy, but it was just good grinding carries, very accurate around the ruck. Our forwards gave us good go-forward in general to put us in good positions.”

The only minus on Leinster’s visit to Galway was the withdrawal of Robbie Henshaw from the starting XV. The centre reported ill this morning and Jimmy O’Brien stepped into the centre, but Henshaw should be primed for next weekend’s Champions Cup opener against Benetton.

Will Connors was the only other injury concern after the win, but the flanker passed his HIA and was available for media interview before boarding the team bus.

For Connacht, the injury crisis deepens with Bealham set for a spell on the sidelines and Sean O’Brien again due with the medics after a luckless short stint as a replacement in the second half.

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Sean Farrell

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