Leinster finish URC season with big win to boost playoff position

Leinster finish URC season with big win to boost playoff position

Leinster boosted their hopes of a top-two finish in the BKT United Rugby Championship with a 33-7 bonus point win over Connacht at the RDS Arena.

Sam Prendergast, who has been linked with a loan move to Connacht, converted tries from Jack Conan, Jimmy O'Brien, and Ciaran Frawley for a 21-0 half-time lead.

Less than a week on from their Investec Champions Cup final heartbreak, Leo Cullen's men lost Michael Ala'alatoa to the sin bin but fellow replacement Dan Sheehan and O'Brien, with a blistering 73rd-minute solo score, wrapped up a convincing victory.

Young reserve scrum-half Colm Reilly ran in a cracking lone effort for Connacht, whose already slim play-off hopes evaporated on a night when their hooker Dave Heffernan made his 200th appearance.

Leinster's retiring back rower Rhys Ruddock was involved in the build-up to Conan's opening try, which saw him cross with a powerful finish off a scrum. Prendergast converted.

Along with some scrum and breakdown issues, Connacht's defence was badly cut open from a lineout on the quarter hour mark, as Frawley and Prendergast combined crisply to put O'Brien over.

Leinster picked up their third try via another lineout, this time Ronan Kelleher and captain Scott Penny combining at the front before Conan cut through and offloaded for Frawley to finish off.

Although David Hawkshaw, Santiago Cordero, and Caolin Blade sharpened up the westerners' attack, Tommy O'Brien denied Cian Prendergast with a brilliant try-scoring tackle before the interval.

Argentinian international Cordero's acrobatic volley almost created a score for Blade, yet Leinster exerted more pressure as the third quarter wore on.

Cian Prendergast came up with a terrific turnover penalty right on Connacht's line, and it was a double blow for the hosts with Ala'alatoa seeing yellow for his shoulder contact with Blade's face at a ruck.

Nonetheless, Leinster eventually chalked up the bonus point when Sheehan broke off a 62nd-minute maul to thunder over from just five metres out.

Connacht replied with an excellent team try, flanker Conor Oliver sparking a break down the right and taking Shane Jennings' well-timed offload to send Reilly in behind the posts. Tom Daly added the extras.

Fittingly, Leinster saved the best for last, though, as O'Brien, continuing his impressive late season form, burned off the Connacht cover with a rapid 80-metre run-in, which was topped off by Prendergast's fourth successful conversion.

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