Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Tommy Grealy/INPHO
# raw power
20-year-old powerhouse Baird stars as 9-try Leinster wallop Warriors
Dave Kearney also completed a hat-trick late on as Leinster laid down a statement against their title rivals.

Leinster 55

Glasgow Warriors 19

THEY PUT THEIR faith in youth, Leinster, and 20-year-old Ryan Baird showed exactly why as he pushed his way over to a hat-trick in an utterly dominant Leinster win over last year’s Pro14 runners-up.

Storm Jorge is on the way, but Baird looked resembled a force of nature himself when he showed his excellent pace and power to romp fully 40 metres in for his second try of the night. The versatile second row was destructive in contact throughout and, forcing his way over for his very first senior try just four minutes in to his second start.

His fellow U20 Grand Slam-winner Harry Byrne also excelled, making the most of benign conditions at the RDS as he showcased his tenacity in defence, slick passing off either hand and a supreme comfort in his position as playmaker of the eastern province as they bagged a nine-try win, the bonus point arriving with a half to spare.

The next time Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster’s side take the field in Dublin, when hopefully the continent will be over the worst of the Coronavirus panic, they will have very different personnel in a very different stadium. The opposition will be another of the sides they met in a final last season, but Saracens will pose a vastly different challenge than Glasgow managed tonight.

At the outset the Warriors looked a decent bet to halt Leinster’s winning streak with a head of steam of their own built up and potent weapons in the back-line. The reigning champions did a clinical job of de-fusing that prospect, taking just four minutes to mine their (and Baird’s) first try after centres Jimmy O’Brien and Joe Tomane combined with tidy offloads.

The 22-point gap between the sides before kick-off seemed a fair reflection then as out-half Pete Horne hit back-to-back poor clearance kicks from around his 22. The first was run back by Lowe. The second went to touch, and although Tim Swinson disrupted, Sean Cronin made a sharp cut to turn the scrappy ball into a solid attacking platform.

This time, the Warriors held their ground on the try-line, but in Byrne they have the tools to go wide and the 20-year-old zip-lined a pass to the right corner for Dave Kearney to finish.

12 points down after 12 minutes, Glasgow at least managed to alter the tempo of the game and narrowed the gap with a gorgeous pop pass from George Horne to Tommy Seymour.

nick-grigg-with-luke-mcgrath-and-harry-byrne Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

The Conference A leaders just always looked like they had more gears to reach for and Byrne was adept at the wheel, linking nicely as his side raided left for Fardy to offload for James Lowe to power towards home.

The Kiwi would blaze another trail to the corner 12 minutes into the second half. By then, Fardy had sealed the bonus point to ring up a 24-7 half-time scoreline. Kyle Steyn completed a fine breakaway to narrow the gap, but this was not a night that would be turned against the champions.

One of Byrne’s more iffy moments also led to a score. A speculative pass across halfway put Jimmy O’Brien in the firing line and the centre did brilliantly to hold onto the pill while Niko Matawalu had a free shot at his ribs. Tempting the winger in, though, left Lowe all the space he needed to beat Huw Jones in a 50 metre sprint for the try-line.

ryan-baird-scores-a-try Tommy Grealy / INPHO Baird crosses for his brilliant second. Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

Even Lowe was to be overshadowed by the remarkably athletic Baird, following up his barnstorming second try on 55 minutes with the completion of his hat-trick from a smart close-range carry just after the hour.

Glasgow’s hopes for a bonus point turned towards a chase for a fourth try with the hosts now well in the distance. Each time Dave Rennie’s side manufactured an impressive score from deep – as they did for Alex Allen – there was a riposte from the brilliant blues.

Kearney completed the rout with Leinster’s eighth and ninth. Even with a hat-trick, he was one of many internationals on display who were left playing supporting roles to a 20-year-old powerhouse.

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Tries: R Baird (3), D Kearney (3), J Lowe (2), S Fardy

Conversions: H Byrne (3/6), C Frawley (2/3)

Glasgow Warriors

Tries: T Seymour, K Steyn, A Allan

Conversions: P Horne (1/2) R Jackson (1/1)

Leinster:  Hugo Keenan,  Dave Kearney, Jimmy O’Brien,  Joe Tomane,  James Lowe (Fergus McFadden ’65),  Harry Byrne (Ciaran Frawley ’61),  Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park ’57): Peter Dooley (Michael Milne’59), Seán Cronin (James Tracy ’53),  Michael Bent (Jack Aungier ’59);  Ryan Baird, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy (Rhys Ruddock ’53), Will Connors (Jack Dunne ’65),  Max Deegan.

Glasgow: Glenn Bryce,  Tommy Seymour (Niko Matawalu ’46), Huw Jones,  Nick Grigg,  Kyle Steyn,  Pete Horne (Ruaridh Jackson ’65), George Horne (Jamie Dobie ’65): Aki Seiuli (Alex Allan ’65), George Turner  (Mesu Dolokoto ’65), D’arcy Rae (Ewan McQuillin ’55);  Rob Harley, Tim Swinson (Andrew Davidson ’40), Ryan Wilson (Callum Gibbins ’59), Tom Gordon,  Matt Fagerson.


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