Leinster run 9 past Kings to tighten stranglehold on play-off spot
Ed Byrne and Noel Reid grabbed two apiece as Leinster moved within one win of securing their place in the knockout stage.
Southern Kings 19
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS LEINSTER registered nine tries at the RDS this evening to move an astonishing 27 points clear at the summit of the Guinness PRO14 Conference B table.
So strong is their stranglehold at present, that another victory against the Cheetahs next Friday would guarantee them a home semi-final with all of four games to spare.
There was just six minutes gone on the clock when the deadlock was broken – Noel Reid sprinting through a gap for a converted try underneath the posts.
Though the early signs were ominous for the Southern Kings – who suffered a 34-0 demolition at the hands of Munster seven days ago – their initial response was emphatic. Following an extended spell of attacking pressure, Bjorn Basson side-stepped the returning Fergus McFadden to touch down in the left-corner.
While Bader Pretorius’ touchline kick was off-target, his namesake Sarel finished off a powerful line-out maul to edge the visitors into a surprise lead.
After being uncharacteristically sloppy at times in the first-quarter, Leinster subsequently regained firm control of the contest. Ed Byrne capped his 10th provincial start with a brace of five-pointers, before Reid’s second of the half propelled the holders into a 24-12 interval cushion.
Despite already having a bonus point wrapped up, there was still some work to do before Leinster could be assured of their 14th win of the campaign.
Ulrich Beyers’ 43rd-minute score provided the South African outfit with a semblance of hope, only for the Blues to fire back in devastating fashion.
Barry Daly latched onto a Ross Byrne off-load to claim the 19th try of his professional career, while Andrew Porter – released from Ireland duty for this game – also dotted down at the end of an extended move.
A 64th-minute replacement for Hugh O’Sullivan, scrum-half Paddy Patterson made it a home debut to remember when he crossed the whitewash in the closing moments. With Max Deegan and Rory O’Loughlin rounding off intricate attacks either side of this effort – and Ross Byrne amassing 14 points off the kicking tee – Leinster eased themselves over the line.
Tries: Noel Reid 2, Ed Byrne 2, Barry Daly, Andrew Porter, Max Deegan, Paddy Patterson, Rory O’Loughlin
Conversions: Ross Byrne [7/9]
Tries: Bjorn Basson, Sarel Pretorius, Ulrich Beyers
Conversions: Bader Pretorius [2/3]
Leinster: Barry Daly (Jimmy O’Brien ’59); Fergus McFadden, Conor O’Brien, Noel Reid (Rory O’Loughlin ’51), James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Hugh O’Sullivan (Paddy Patterson ’64); Ed Byrne (Peter Dooley ‘56, Ronan Kelleher (James Tracy ’56), Andrew Porter (Vakh Abdaladze ’56); Ross Molony (Scott Fardy ’74), Mick Kearney (Jack Dunne ’42); Josh Murphy, Max Deegan, Caelan Doris.
Southern Kings: Ulrich Beyers (Masixole Banda ’57); Yaw Penxe, Meli Rokoua, Berton Klaasen (Tertius Kruger ’58), Bjorn Basson; Bader Pretorius, Sarel Pretorius (Stefan Ungerer ’63); Alulutho Tshakweni (Schalk Ferreira ’56), Michael Willemse (Alandre Van Rooyen ’65), De-Jay Terblanche (Pieter Scholtz ’56); Stephan Greeff (John-Charles Astle ’11 (Andisa Ntsila ’31-‘38)), Andries Van Schalkwyk; Henry Brown, Martinus Burger, Ruaan Lerm (Andisa Ntsila ’52).