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Dublin: 0°C Monday 1 March 2021

Head knocks to Ryan and Leavy the only blemish on Leinster's night

Leo Cullen was pleased with the intensity his side showed in the bonus-point win over Edinburgh.

James Lowe scored Leinster's second try.
James Lowe scored Leinster's second try.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from the RDS 

BOTH JAMES RYAN and Dan Leavy will follow return to play protocols after suffering head knocks during Leinster’s bonus-point 31-7 victory over Edinburgh at the RDS on Saturday evening.

Ryan left the field in the 20th minute of tonight’s Pro14 encounter and, presumably having failed his HIA, never reappeared to be replaced by Mick Kearney, while Leavy suffered a heavy bang not long after his second-half introduction.

The Ireland flanker, on for his first appearance of the season following a shoulder injury, was on the receiving end of a leading forearm from Edinburgh replacement Pierre Schoeman, who was shown red by Welsh referee Dan Jones.

The loss of both Ryan and Leavy was the only blemish on an otherwise satisfactory night for Leinster as the hosts rolled up their sleeves to come out the right side of a stern physical and mental test.

“Dan and James will go through the return to play,” Leo Cullen said afterwards. 

“Obviously James was removed by our medics and Dan with the knock at the end. We’ll get the report during the week.”

Ryan’s withdrawal came amid an energy-sapping phase of play in the first half as Edinburgh, locked and loaded up front, laid siege to the Leinster line with 32 phases of pick-and-jam attack. 

At that stage, Leinster had drawn first blood through Fergus McFadden’s 16th-minute try but they were made to work hard by Richard Cockerill’s teak-tough side.

Leinster, led by the tireless Josh van der Flier, man-of-the-match Cian Healy and consistently excellent Devin Toner, produced stoic resistance before the break, shutting the door on the visitors before striking at the other end through James Lowe.

“That was a big moment there in the first half when we held them out for what felt like 30-odd phases,” Cullen reflected, as the hosts took a 12-0 lead into the break. 

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Jordan Larmour acknowledges the fans after the game Jordan Larmour after the game. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It was pleasing and it took it out of both sets of players as well. A very, very pleasing defensive set there.

“It means so much to the guys, when they’re playing here at the RDS, it means a huge amount to them. I thought we had a great crowd there today and we were talking about that defensive set, I think they feed off the energy the crowd give as well.

“Couple of big cheers going in that I could hear from inside the glass box. The players respond to what the crowd give them.”

Although Edinburgh responded four minutes into the second period through Magnus Bradbury, Leinster had held off their initial challenge and proceeded to pull clear in the third quarter through tries from Jordan Larmour, Johnny Sexton — on tand Garry Ringrose.

Back-to-back bonus-point wins at the RDS sees Leinster move top of Conference B ahead of the inter-pros against Connacht and Munster, and Cullen was pleased with how his players fronted up tonight.

“I thought we showed really good intent today, we knew Edinburgh would put up a good strong physical challenge and that’s exactly what they delivered,” the head coach continued.

“I thought we created some good opportunities and the guys showed good finishing ability. It’s great to get a win and a bonus-point as well is very, very pleasing. I thought we controlled the game pretty well.”

Ahead of next week’s visit to the Galway Sportsground, Cullen knows the big games are coming thick and fast: “Next week again is a different challenge. A good physical contest tonight, but it’s late so we’ll now try and get the lads rested up so we can try and prepare properly for the week and challenge which is ahead.” 

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Ryan Bailey

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