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Harry Byrne is congratulated by Jordan Larmour and Liam Turner. Tom Maher/INPHO
the byrne supremacy

Harry Byrne seizes chance to impress in Leinster's hammering of Dragons

Leinster won a fourteenth game in a row on a 43-14 scoreline.

Leinster 43

Dragons 14

Daire Walsh reports from the RDS

HARRY BYRNE AMASSED 16 points at the RDS on Saturday evening as Leinster moved 12 points clear at the summit of the United Rugby Championship table with a convincing triumph over Dragons.

This victory – their 14th in succession of the current campaign – also moves the Blues a step closer to a top-two finish in the URC. Even though it remains mathematically possible that Ulster and Glasgow Warriors (third and fourth respectively) could leapfrog them in the standings, it would require a miraculous run of results for Leinster to be denied a potential home path towards league glory.

In the absence of his older brother Ross and Jonathan Sexton, Byrne immediately seized upon an ideal opportunity to impress with a fourth-minute try at the end of a relentless attacking spell that he later followed up with a routine conversion.

Yet despite being able to call upon four members of Andy Farrell’s international set-up during a fallow week for the Six Nations – Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Larmour, Jamie Osborne and Michael Milne – the anticipated Leinster onslaught was taking its time to materialise.

Nevertheless, the Blues reinforced their authority when Luke McGrath intercepted a mistimed pass in midfield by Will Reed for a breakaway try on 26 minutes. 

Leinster did suffer a set-back when McGrath’s scrum-half counterpart Rhodri Williams crossed over at the opposite end, but this only proved to be a minor speed bump for Leo Cullen’s men.

Latching onto an offload from back-row partner Scott Penny, team captain Rhys Ruddock dotted down in ruthless fashion for his side’s third try of the night. Leinster now sensed a bonus score was already there for the taking and another seven-point salvo from Byrne offered it to them in addition to a 26-7 interval buffer.

Although he faces stiff competition as he bids to force his way back into Ireland’s match day 23, Larmour offered up a timely reminder of his capabilities with an outstanding finish in the left-corner seven minutes after the restart. 

Dragons had introduced former Munster back JJ Hanrahan off the bench moments earlier and while the game was effectively over as a genuine contest, the Kerry native did leave his mark on the proceedings inside the final-quarter.

While the large Leinster contingent amongst the 12,441 attendance were calling for a forward pass, referee Mike Adamson adjudged the ball had knocked off the Kerry native’s head before he sprinted over the whitewash just past the hour mark.

Before this score, Cullen had opted to introduce no fewer than six replacements at the same time – including the fit-again Jason Jenkins and senior debutant Jack Boyle. Rob Russell was another player to make a cameo appearance and he grabbed his eighth try in just nine appearances this season during the closing moments of the action.

The prodigious Charlie Tector was on hand to add the extras to this score and he then brought the curtain down on another dominant Leinster performance with his maiden try in professional club rugby on the stroke of full-time.

Leinster Scorers

Tries: Harry Byrne 2, Luke McGrath, Rhys Ruddock, Jordan Larmour, Rob Russell, Charlie Tector

Conversions: Harry Byrne [3 from 5], Charlie Tector [1 from 1]

Dragons Scorers

Tries: Rhodri Williams, JJ Hanrahan

Conversions: Will Reed [2 from 2]

Penalties: Will Reed [0 from 1]

LEINSTER: Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmour (Rob Russell ’55), Liam Turner, Jamie Osborne, Dave Kearney; Harry Byrne (Charlie Tector ’71), Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy ’55); Michael Milne (Jack Boyle ’55), John McKee (Lee Barron ’55), Michael Ala’alatoa (Thomas Clarkson ’55); Ross Molony (Jason Jenkins ’55), Brian Deeny; Rhys Ruddock, Scott Penny (Will Connors ’62), Max Deegan.

DRAGONS: Angus O’Brien; Sio Tomkinson (JJ Hanrahan ’46), Steff Hughes, Jack Dixon (Jordan Williams half-time), Ashton Hewitt; Will Reed, Rhodri Williams (Lewis Jones ’66); Rhodri Jones (Aki Seiuli ’54), Brodie Coghlan (James Benjamin ‘9-’21 & ‘65), Lloyd Fairbrother (Chris Coleman ’58); Matthew Screech, Ben Carter; Ben Fry (Sean Lonsdale ’55), Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty (Ryan Woodman ’71). 

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU).

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