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D'Arcy in superb form as Leinster run four tries past Cardiff

Matt O’Connor’s men returned to winning ways after last weekend’s defeat to Connacht.

Jimmy Gopperth offloads for Gordon D'Arcy's try.
Jimmy Gopperth offloads for Gordon D'Arcy's try.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Leinster 37

Cardiff Blues 23

LEINSTER RECOVERED FROM last weekend’s defeat to Connacht with a bonus-point 37-23 victory over Mark Hammett’s Cardiff Blues at the RDS.

Their performance was nervy at times, particularly after conceding two tries in three minutes midway through the second half, but bursts of attacking quality from the likes of Rhys Ruddock and Gordon D’Arcy ultimately made the difference.

D’Arcy was man of the match on his first start of the season, looking creative with ball in hand and as composed as ever in defence. His performance will have been of great encouragement to head coach Matt O’Connor, who will look to the 34-year-old as a key leader this season.

Ian Madigan kicked two early penalties to get Leinster off the mark, the first when Cardiff came offside and the second for a scrum offence.

The Ireland international missed his third from a distance of 42 metres, with Rhys Patchell getting the Blues onto the scoreboard soon after, rewarding a strong maul from his forwards.

From there, a 10-minute spell of sloppiness overcame Leinster, with kicks into touch going out on the full, poor passing to deck and there was one glaring loss of possession to a counter-ruck from Hammett’s side.

Patchell leveled the scores at 6-6 in the 30th minute, having missed with his second shot at goal. A nasty clash of heads between Madigan and Dafydd Hewitt then saw play held up and forced the Blues’ centre to be replaced.

When the action resumed, Leinster discovered that distinctive high-pace attacking burst that wins them games so often. Jimmy Gopperth carried to the line threateningly and Rhys Ruddock ran a superb unders line at pace off the out-half’s right shoulder.

Rhys Ruddock scores a try despite George Watkins and Lewis Jones Ruddock scored a magnificent first-half try for Leinster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Kiwi slipped the ball delicately to Ruddock, who burst past a flailing tackle before fending Lewis Jones powerfully and crashing over in the right corner. Madigan added a sweet conversion.

A slip in concentration just before the break saw Leinster kick into touch after carrying the ball back into their own 22 and eventually resulted in Patchell knocking over his third penalty for a half-time scoreline of 13-9 in Leinster’s favour.

Rob Kearney was replaced at half time, meaning a backline shuffle, with Mick McGrath coming onto the left wing and Ian Madigan moving to fullback, while Fergus McFadden joined D’Arcy in the midfield.

That fresh combination worked ideally to produce an excellent try for Clontarf man McGrath. D’Arcy’s long right-handed pass sent Madigan racing into space, with the 25-year-old then drawing a defender and hitting McGrath.

There was plenty of work still to be done, but McGrath burst into George Watkin’s tackle, found his feet again after the contact and stretched over. The TMO confirmed the score and Madigan converted, this time from wide on the left.

Mick McGrath scores a try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Leinster backline was suddenly rampant and the excellent D’Arcy was on hand to take a Gopperth offload to cross under the posts just minutes after McGrath’s effort. Madigan again tacked on the two extra points.

At 27-9, and with 53 minutes on the clock, the game looked comfortable for O’Connor’s men, but a raft of changes saw the momentum ebb away. An error from Madigan, who stumbled as he looked to scoop up a Blues’ grubber allowed Cory Allen in for a try and then Dan Fish burst down the left to feed Sam Warburton for a second.

Replacement wing Fish’s pass looked to be clearly forward, but referee Ian Davies and his TMO ruled in the Blues’ favour. Patchell converted the two quick-fire tries and suddenly we had a four-point game.

Madigan’s 73rd-minute penalty from straight in front of the posts settled the nerves, however, and then Luke McGrath scampered clear to score in the final minute, with Madigan converting.

Leinster scorers:

Tries: R Ruddock, M McGrath, G D’Arcy, L McGrath

Conversions: I Madigan [4 from 4]

Penalties: I Madigan [3 from 4]

Cardiff scorers:

Tries: C Allen, S Warburton

Conversions: R Patchell [2 from 2]

Penalties: R Patchell [3 from 4]

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney (Mick McGrath ’41); Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Ian Madigan, Darragh Fanning; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan (Luke McGrath ’65); Michael Bent (Ed Byrne ’69), Sean Cronin (Bryan Byrne ’78), Martin Moore (Tadhg Furlong ’65); Devin Toner, Kane Douglas (Mike McCarthy ’57); Rhys Ruddock (Jack Conan ’54), Dominic Ryan, Jamie Heaslip (capt.).

Replacements not used: Steve Crosbie.

CARDIFF BLUES: Rhys Patchell; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Dafydd Hewitt (Adam Thomas, ’35), George Watkins (Dan Fish ’51); Gareth Davies, Lewis Jones (Tavis Knoyle ’74); Gethin Jenkins (Sam Hobbs ’53), Kristian Dacey (Matthew Rees ’51), Adam Jones (Taufa’ao Filise ’57); Jarrad Hoeata (Macauley Cook ’57), Chris Dicomidis; Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi (capt.) (Manoa Vosawai ’70).

Referee: Ian Davies [WRU].

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Murray Kinsella

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