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Leaders Leinster prove too strong for Dragons to maintain winning run

(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

BKT United Rugby Championship leaders Leinster had too much for an industrious Dragons side in a 43-14 bonus point win at the RDS.


Harry Byrne started and finished the first half’s try-scoring, establishing a 26-7 half-time lead. Dragons captain Rhodri Williams crossed to split scores from Luke McGrath and Rhys Ruddock.

Jordan Larmour and JJ Hanrahan exchanged tries before Leinster’s 14th straight league victory – and 10th with a bonus – was wrapped up by late efforts from replacements Rob Russell and Charlie Tector.

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Dave Kearney threatened an early try which was scored in the third minute by a stretching Byrne, who profited from quick recycling.

The wind-backed Dragons messed up two maul opportunities, following a Will Reed penalty miss, with the first of them seeing Ross Molony rip possession away.

The ever-alert McGrath read a 25th-minute loop move from Dragons, pinching a pass from Reed to score from halfway and Byrne converted.


McGrath’s opposite number Williams lifted his side with a well-taken seven-pointer, sniping over from a ruck to make it 14-7.


However, Leinster pocketed their bonus point by the interval, skipper Ruddock finishing off a pacey break and a late onslaught saw Liam Turner send Byrne over from close range.

The injury-enforced loss of Jack Dixon was a further setback for Dragons, who allowed Larmour to break down the blindside of a ruck and supply a quality finish in the corner.

Nice handling between Rhodri Jones and Brodie Coghlan threatened a Dragons try in response, but Leo Cullen’s side held firm through 19 phases.

Although a Jack Boyle turnover added to the Welsh outfit’s frustration, they doubled their tally when Steff Hughes’ neat offload, which initially struck Hanrahan’s head, bounced up for the Kerryman to go in under the posts.


Sparking Leinster’s strong finish, Jimmy O’Brien countered impressively from a kick, linking with Lee Barron who put Russell over for his eighth score of the season.

Fellow Academy player Tector opened his try account for the province with their seventh in the final minute. Kearney used a Barron turnover to kick through and Tector, having regained possession, powered away from Jordan Williams to score.


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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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