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Start as you mean to go on! Leinster begin year with inter-pro win over Connacht

Josh van der Flier’s try proved crucial in a low-scoring derby at the RDS.

Garry Ringrose put in another impressive performance.
Garry Ringrose put in another impressive performance.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Leinster 13
Connacht 0

LEINSTER MADE IT six wins in a row in the Pro12 to get 2016 off to a winning start at the RDS.

In the process they extended Connacht’s losing record at the venue to nine defeats from as many visits.

Pat Lam’s men have now lost three league games in a row and face another difficult test when they head to Scarlets next weekend.

Leo Cullen’s men may be out of Europe but even with 11 changes from the side which defeated Munster last weekend, they were on top throughout this one.

Leinster had the wind and rain behind them in the opening half but had to settle for a 3-0 interval advantage after failing to crack Connacht’s defence.

The hosts wasted little time laying out their stall, twice going to the right corner with penalties but Connacht held firm on both occasions.

A third penalty to touch, this time to the left corner, was again repelled but Connacht were pinged and Jonathan Sexton got Leinster off the mark with a penalty in front of the posts after 15 minutes.

Both sides  struggled in the conditions and the mistakes kept mounting for both sides.

There were glimpses of the class of Garry Ringrose in the centre for Leinster and he looked a threat with ball in hand going forward.

Dave Kearney, having failed to deal with a grubber from distance by Connacht full-back Tiernan O’Halloran, did well to recover and bundle Niya Adeolokum into touch short of the home line.

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Kieran Marmion and Josh van der Flier The awful conditions made it difficult for both teams. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Sean O’Brien came on after 52 minutes for his 100th Leinster appearance but, not to be outdone, Connacht brought on their own Sean O’Brien a minute a later when he replaced Jake Heenan.

Dave Kearney created the breakthrough try for Leinster with a good break and while Connacht again got back to smother him, Leinster kept recycling the ball and were rewarded with a favourable decision from TMO Marshall Kilgore after Josh van der Flier got over.

Sexton added the extras and suddenly Leinster were 10-0 to the good after an hour.

That left Connacht, who had only scored three points last weekend against Ulster and five the previous week away to Newcastle Falcons, with a mountain to climb.

Ian Madigan replaced Sexton with nine minutes left and he extended the Leinster lead three minutes later with a penalty from 35 metres to wrap up the win.

Leinster scorersTries: Josh van der Flier
Penalties: Johnny Sexton, Ian Madigan
Conversion: Johnny Sexton

Leinster: Rob Kearney (Zane Kirchner ’76); Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Ben Te’o, Dave Kearney; Johnny Sexton (Ian Madigan ’72), Eoin Reddan (Nick McCarthy ’76); Jack McGrath (Peter Dooley ’71), Richardt Strauss (James Tracy ’61), Marty Moore (Michael Bent ’71); Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy (Ross Molony ’68); Rhys Ruddock (capt), Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy (Sean O’Brien ’52).

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran (Rory Parata ’76); Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty (AJ MacGinty ’64), Kieran Marmion (Ian Porter ’64); Finlay Bealham (Ronan Loughney ’64), Tom McCartney (Dave Heffernan ’70), Nathan White (Rodney Ah You ’10-15, ’54); Aly Muldowney (Ultan Dillane ’62), Andrew Browne; John Muldoon (capt), Jake Heenan (Sean O’Brien ’53), Eoghan Masterson.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU).

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John Fallon

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