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James Ryan injured as Leinster battle past wasteful Connacht

By PA
GettyImages-1243967341

Ciaran Frawley’s 76th-minute penalty ensured Leinster beat a wasteful Connacht 10-0 at the Sportsground.

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The wet and windy conditions made for a scrappy first half, scrum-half Cormac Foley scoring off an early lineout to give Leinster a seven-point advantage.

Connacht were left to rue their missed opportunities as a break from Player of the Match Josh van der Flier set up replacement Frawley to kick the visitors to their fifth victory of the new season.

Leinster cracked open the home defence inside the first three minutes, Van der Flier breaking off a maul and feeding Foley for a simple finish. Ross Byrne expertly converted from out wide.

Two Niall Murray lineout steals lifted Connacht, as well as his charge-down on Foley, but a subsequent knock-on spoiled their first visit to Leinster 22.

Connacht’s improved maul defence kept the deficit at seven points at the start of the second quarter, before they hurried Leinster into more errors.

The Westerners’ own lineout drive was halted short, and the radar was off when Colm Reilly’s looping pass to Mack Hansen went into touch.

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As the rain came down, the slippery ball was Connacht’s undoing when they failed to capitalise on a scrum penalty. Byrne then pulled a 40-metre penalty wide.

A late Connacht onslaught, on the back of a scrum penalty conceded by Tadhg Furlong, went unrewarded, with Paul Boyle held up before half-time.

Number eight Boyle was prominent on the restart and, while Leinster continued to have lineout issues, Connacht were wasteful again from a gilt-edged maul opportunity.

Although Byrne missed a 54th-minute penalty attempt, Connacht’s execution let them down when their maul was grounded and then a lineout to the tail was knocked on.

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As good as Conor Oliver’s work at the breakdown was, it was sandwiched by two poor Connacht kicks that went straight into touch. It was Leinster who went up a gear during the closing stages.

Dan Sheehan and Van der Flier both made breaks, the latter being brought down by John Porch. Murray infringed, received a yellow card and had to watch Frawley seal Connacht’s fate.

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Jon 3 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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