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Leinster tame Lions to strengthen United Rugby Championship lead

(Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Leinster moved four points clear at the top of the United Rugby Championship following a 21-13 win over the Lions at the RDS Arena.


Third-quarter tries from Michael Ala’alatoa and Scott Penny gave the hosts a comfortable lead before the Lions mustered a late opportunist try for captain Jaco Kriel.

Dave Kearney’s sixth-minute score had Leinster 7-6 ahead at half-time, with Jordan Hendrikse landing two penalties for the South Africans.

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On his return from injury, fly-half Hendrikse was off target with two early penalty attempts as the Lions left points behind them.

Leinster punished them with a free-flowing try, Tommy O’Brien popping up in midfield for a key pass out of a tackle before Jamie Osborne and Max O’Reilly sent Kearney over in the left corner.

Reliable number 10 Ross Byrne floated over the difficult conversion but the Lions proved tough to break down.

Ruben Schoeman forced a turnover penalty, which Hendrikse sent through the uprights in the 12th minute.


Kearney was stopped a few metres out after combining again with O’Reilly and then a promising lineout opportunity for the visitors was bundled into touch.

Lions scrum-half Morne van den Berg then threatened on a brilliant side-stepping run before Dan Leavy came to Leinster’s rescue.

Quan Horn pinched a pass as the home side looked destined for a try and Hendrikse’s 36th-minute penalty punished Devin Toner for not rolling away.

Kriel did very well to deny Leavy a try just before the break but Leinster resumed in the ascendancy.


Prop Ala’alatoa drove over in the 47th minute after Leinster had played with successive penalty advantages and Byrne’s conversion made it 14-6.

Kearney and O’Brien carved through on counter-attacking runs, the home pack using the resulting lineout to send flanker Penny over.

Byrne’s boot pushed the margin out to 15 points but Leinster were forced back on the defensive and Stean Pienaar’s breakaway effort was foiled by a terrific O’Brien tackle.

The Lions got their reward in the 78th minute, van den Berg reacting quickest after the ball had squirted out of a Leinster scrum.

Kriel was fed for the score which replacement Tiaan Swanepoel converted.


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