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Leinster tame Lions to strengthen United Rugby Championship lead

By PA
(Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Tim 14 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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