LEINSTER 37 NG DRAGONS 13
Youngsters Garry Ringrose and Cathal Marsh scored their first Guinness PRO12 tries as Leinster ran out 37-13 bonus-point winners over Newport Gwent Dragons at the RDS.
The men of Gwent enjoyed a season’s double over Leinster last season, but they were well beaten on this occasion as their try line was breached four times and Fergus McFadden kicked six from six for a 15-point haul.
Two converted tries from stand-in captain Isa Nacewa, in response to Sarel Pretorius’ close-range effort, saw Leo Cullen’s men come from 10-6 down to lead 20-10 at half-time.
A Jason Tovey penalty kept the visitors in touch before the Irish province settled the issue with quick-fire scores from the 20-year-old Ringrose and man-of-the-match Marsh.
A big hit by Mike McCarthy on Jason Tovey signalled Leinster’s early intent, with the home pack boosted by the returning Martin Moore and Rhys Ruddock. The latter came in for Jack Conan who rolled his ankle before kick-off.
Out-half Marsh’s break over halfway lit up a rather listless opening 10 minutes. McFadden slotted over a subsequent scrum penalty won by Moore before Tovey replied following a ruck infringement.
James Thomas’ high tackle on Josh van der Flier allowed McFadden to restore Leinster’s lead, but the hosts lacked urgency and were guilty of playing too much rugby inside their own half. The Dragons’ sharpness on the ball was evident when a lively set of phases ended with scrum-half Pretorius going low to score from a metre out. Tovey converted for 10-6.
That concession sparked Leinster into life, Nacewa and Ringrose combining neatly on the left wing before flanker Van der Flier scythed through midfield in brilliant fashion. Noel Reid used the quick ruck ball to loop a long pass out wide for Nacewa to go over in the right corner. McFadden clipped over a classy conversion.
Reid also teed up Nacewa’s second try, five minutes before the interval. His kick through was not properly dealt with by Tom Prydie and the onrushing Nacewa swooped in to get the touchdown and add the conversion for good measure.
Carl Meyer missed a late long-range penalty for the Dragons, and the visitors needed a textbook tackle from Ashton Hewitt to deny fast-breaking winger Ringrose an early second-half try.
McFadden and Tovey swapped penalties during a defence-dominated third quarter, before two tries in the space of three minutes wrapped up the result and bonus point for Leinster.
After a bout of scrum pressure near the Dragons posts, Marsh did well to dive on a loose ball, and passes from lively replacement Luke McGrath and Ben Te’o sent winger Ringrose over in the left corner.
Marsh deservedly got on the score-sheet soon after, with his timely injection of pace taking him over just to the left of the posts. McFadden maintained his impressive 100 per cent kicking record by landing both conversions.