Leinster claimed the quickest try-scoring bonus point of the Guinness PRO14 season in a facile 54-7 derby win over Connacht at the RDS.
Leo Cullen’s men chalked up their bonus point with just under 20 minutes on the clock – Glasgow’s 23 minutes was the previous best – as Max Deegan, who crossed after only 103 seconds, Dave Kearney, Ciaran Frawley and Joe Tomane swept over for scores.
It was a point a minute for Leinster in the first half, as further tries from Luke McGrath and Deegan left injury-hit Connacht a full 40 points behind. James Ryan’s withdrawal for a suspected calf injury was a concern for the rampant hosts.
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Garry Ringrose’s well-taken brace sandwiched a consolation 69th-minute maul try from Connacht replacement Tom McCartney, with their 10th victory of the PRO14 campaign keeping Leinster 11 points clear of Ulster at the top of Conference A.
The defending champions were three tries up inside 14 minutes as Connacht struggled to contain the blue attacking wave. A miscued first-minute lineout handed Leinster possession and Peter Dooley barrelled through to set up supporting number eight Deegan to score.
Fly-half Frawley converted and was involved in setting up Kearney’s 10th-minute try, combining with Ringrose to find the experienced winger who stepped inside Caolin Blade’s challenge and took Niyi Adeolokun and Conor Fitzgerald with him over the line in a savvy finish.
Robin Copeland’s turnover penalty had briefly stopped Leinster in their tracks, but a slick interchange between Frawley and Deegan carved open the heart of Connacht’s defence and sent the Skerries youngster in beside the posts to make it 19-0.
Deegan provided a second assist when Tomane proved too powerful from close range, and scrum-half McGrath got on the scoresheet in the 33rd minute when crossing from a ruck just a couple of metres out.
With centre Ringrose to the fore, Leinster’s running lines caused further problems for Connacht approaching half-time. Kearney was stopped short but the forwards took over as Deegan squeezed over, allowing Frawley to land his fifth successful conversion from six kicks.
Deegan turned provider again in the 47th minute, evading two defenders before releasing Ringrose to weave in under the posts. With an improved bout of carrying, Connacht were on the cusp of scoring before man of the match Rhys Ruddock’s rip in the tackle denied them.
Replacement Stephen Kerins and Niyi Adeolokun increased Connacht’s attacking threat, and their endeavour was rewarded with McCartney’s pushover effort.
However, with young stand-off Fitzgerald suffering a worrying ankle injury, the westerners leaked an eighth try when Ringrose nipped over in the right corner via a Jamison Gibson-Park kick.
Life after Rugby – Andy Powell:
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