McFadden sets Leinster on the way to victory
By Daire Walsh
Suncroft’s Fergus McFadden grabbed his second try of the 2018/19 season on Saturday evening at the RDS, where Leinster recorded a comprehensive 31-7 victory against Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14.
After previously crossing over for the Blues in a narrow away defeat to Scarlets on September 8 – he also contributed a penalty in an opening round clash with Cardiff – McFadden’s early try opened the floodgates for the defending champions.
Following his absence for the visit of the Dragons to the Ballsbridge venue seven days earlier, McFadden was included alongside James Lowe and Jordan Larmour in the back-three. Indeed, with the notable exceptions of Lowe and gifted flanker Max Deegan, the Leinster team was laden with international stars.
Grand Slam heroes Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong and Dan Leavy were listed amongst the replacements, while Australian utility back Joe Tomane (a summer recruit from Montpellier) also made the match day squad for this round four affair. Kill native James Tracy returned to the starting line-up for the first time since the Cardiff success on August 31 – he was joined in the front-row by Cian Healy and the evergreen Michael Bent.
It took the hosts just 15 minutes to break the deadlock and it was the aforementioned McFadden who got the ball rolling for Leo Cullen’s men.
Excellent approach work from Devin Toner made it possible for McFadden to claim his 26th career try for Leinster, which was supplemented by a expert Jonathan Sexton conversion. Although Edinburgh offered a stubborn resistance at times, a Lowe five-pointer ultimately gave the Blues a commanding 12-0 interval cushion.
There was still some work to be done on the resumption and Magnus Bradbury provided the Scottish outfit with a lifeline four minutes into the second period. His converted score was subsequently cancelled out by Larmour at the opposite end, though, before the bonus point inevitably arrived through Sexton’s seven-point salvo just past the hour mark.
Edinburgh’s Pierre Schoeman was issued with a straight red-card for ‘leading with the elbow’ inside the final-quarter and Leinster exploited their numerical advantage via a final try from Garry Ringrose.
They currently find themselves at the summit of the Conference B table, a single point in front of the undefeated Ulster.
Elsewhere, Craig Ronaldson (Ballymore Eustace) made a cameo appearance in Connacht’s magnificent 33-20 triumph over Scarlets at the Sportsground on the same day. Thanks in no small part to tries from Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher and Niyi Adeolokun, the westerners got the better of Wayne Pivac’s charges.
This was in stark contrast to the fortunes of Kildare duo Joey Carbery (Athy) and Tadhg Beirne (Eadestown), who suffered a disappointing 13-37 reversal in Munster’s away meeting with Cardiff on Friday night last.
The Red Army were well in contention during the opening half, when a brace of Andrew Conway tires were complimented by a Carbery penalty. Despite being just one point in arrears at the break (14-13), Munster had no answer to the home team’s second period dominance.