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JVDF to the fore as Leinster secure home Pro12 semi with bonus point win in Galway

The eastern province scored five tries to ruin John Muldoon’s 300th cap party.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Connacht 24

Leinster 37

LEINSTER GAVE THEMSELVES a boost into of their Champions Cup semi-final as Josh van der Flier inspired his side to a big win over the reigning Pro12 champions at the Sportsground.

Leo Cullen’s side take on Clermont in France next weekend, looking to reach their first European decider since their third title win over Ulster in 2012. And despite fielding a side that showed 11 changes from their last-ditch victory at Ospreys, Leinster secured a home play-off.

Tries from Zane Kirchner, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Rhys Ruddock and Barry Daly were enough to secure another impressive win – Danie Poolman and Dave Heffernan scored for Connacht.

John Muldoon was playing his 300th game for Connacht and his team were in front inside two minutes when Craig Ronaldson scored a penalty.

Leinster hit back when Tiernan O’Halloran was pinged just outside his 22. A smart pass from Noel Reid to Adam Byrne created the gap for Kirchner to dot down.

Connacht had two victories over Leinster at the end of last season, including their Pro12 final success. But the visitors built up a 12-3 lead when Adam Byrne intercepted a Ronaldson pass in the 11th minute.

John Muldoon John Muldoon, with JVDF ready to pounce. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ronaldson scored another penalty and then Jack Carty’s cross-field kick was pounced on by Poolman. Ronaldson added the conversion and the teams traded penalties before O’Loughlin got Leinster’s third try.

Ronaldson cut the deficit, Connacht trailed 20-19 at half-time, and the home side scored first in the second-half when Heffernan dotted down in the 50th minute, shortly after Leinster’s Dave Kearney was helped from the field on the night he made a long-awaited comeback from injury.

Tiernan O’Halloran dejected The excellent Tiernan O'Halloran leaves dejected. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

On the back of a powerful carry from Van Der Flier, Ruddock powered almost instantly after Heffernan’s effort and Connacht never managed to re-take the lead. Barry Daly pounced on an all-too-frequent Connacht error to seal the win.

Scorers 

Connacht

Tries: Danie Poolman, Dave Heffernan

Penalties: Craig Ronaldson 4 / 4

Conversions: Craig Ronaldson 1 / 2

Leinster

Tries: Zane Kirchner, Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Rhys Ruddock, Barry Daly

Penalties: Ross Byrne 2 / 2

Conversions: Ross Byrne 3 / 5

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun (Eoin Griffin 12), Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Danie Poolman; Jack Carty (Steve Crosbie 69), Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade 31-40, 74); Denis Buckley (JP Cooney 69), Dave Heffernan (Shane Delahunt 64), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson-McCoy 69); Quinn Roux (Sean O’Brien 21), Andrew Browne; Eoin McKeon (Naulia Dawai 40), Jake Heenan, John Muldoon.

Leinster: Zane Kirchner; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin (Tom Daly 69), Noel Reid, Dave Kearney (Barry Daly 47); Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy 69); Cian Healy (Peter Dooley 52), James Tracy (Sean Cronin 52), Mike Ross(Michael Bent 52); Ross Molony, Hayden Triggs (Ian Nagle 62); Dominic Ryan, Josh van der Flier, Rhys Ruddock (Peader Timmins 74).

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales).

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As it happened: Connacht v Leinster, Pro12

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Daragh Small

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