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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Concern for Kearney as bruising Benetton draw takes its toll

The second row was forced off with a serious shoulder injury while Noel Reid was also withdrawn with a head knock.

Ryan Bailey reports from the RDS

IT IS FEARED Mick Kearney suffered a dislocated shoulder during Leinster’s bruising Guinness Pro14 27-27 draw with Benetton on Saturday evening, while Noel Reid was withdrawn after sustaining a head knock.

Second row Kearney took the brunt of a big Toa Halafihi carry on his left shoulder and after receiving treatment on the pitch, was given oxygen by the medical team as he made his way off.

Mick Kearney goes off injured Kearney was injured just before half-time. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kearney will undergo a scan to assess the extent of the damage but if it as bad as initially thought, the 28-year-old is unlikely to feature again this season, although Devin Toner’s return to fitness boosts Leinster’s second row resources again. 

The loss of Kearney, as the lineout caller, just before half-time was a further setback for Leo Cullen’s side after out-half Reid had been forced off earlier in the opening period having failed a Head Injury Assessment.

Cullen confirmed Reid will now go through the return to play protocols ahead of next Saturday’s visit of Glasgow Warriors. 

Leinster also had to make a late reshuffle to their back row after Josh Murphy withdrew from the starting XV due to tonsillitis, although Scott Penny defied his tender years by fronting up against a physical Benetton outfit, while Max Deegan was man of the match at blindside.

The province were left disappointed with the concession of a last-minute try as Ratuva Tavuyara’s dancing feet evaded three would-be tacklers to ensure Benetton left Dublin with a share of the spoils

But, overall, it was a positive night for many of Cullen’s young guns as they gained valuable experience and exposure at Pro14 level, with Penny once again showing his promise, Jack Dunne making a staggering 28 tackles after replacing Kearney and Ciarán Frawley scoring 14 points, including a well-worked try.

“We’re disappointed with the result but I don’t think we can be too disappointed with the performance,” Deegan said afterwards. “I thought the lads showed good character, a young group we fought hard, we gave away a few stupid penalties in the first half and in the second half we came hard, and thought we defended well.

Hugely disappointed [to draw] but credit to the lads, we put in a massive shift. So disappointing to concede at the end there.

After trailing 13-6 at the break, a much-changed and youthful Leinster side responded strongly in the second half and tries from James Lowe, Bryan Byrne and Frawley put them on course for a hard-earned win.

But Benetton were utterly relentless in their physicality all evening and launched a 30-phase siege on the Leinster line, eventually getting their just reward through Tavuyara, with the impressive Tomasso Allan adding the extras to secure a valuable draw for Kieran Crowley’s men.

“They’ve been outstanding all year,” Deegan added.

Ratuva Tavuyara celebrates scoring a late try with Monty Ioane Ratuva Tavuyara celebrates. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“They beat us here last year and we really wanted to put a marker down for the end of the season, so it’s hugely disappointing but credit to them, they came here, they were physical and they did what we knew they were going to do.” 

Treviso’s late efforts moved them within two points of second-placed Ulster in Conference B and ensured they stayed ahead of Edinburgh, who roared back from 12-0 down to defeat Scarlets 20-12 in Llanelli.

Gareth Davies and Jonathan Davies put Wayne Pivac’s side in charge in the first half, but Jaco van der Walt added the extras to Matt Scott’s try and converted one of his own to turn the game around.

Van der Walt then slotted through his second penalty of the match to complete a sensational nine-minute turn around for Edinburgh.

The Ospreys kept their hopes of making the play-offs alive with a 31-14 win over the Cheetahs at Toyota Stadium. 

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Ryan Bailey

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