Leinster 40 - 5 Cardiff Blues
HT 19-5
Sun 22 November 17:15 RDS Arena Ref: Mike Adamson Guinness PRO14

Leinster Rugby 40 Cardiff Blues 5

Sun 22 Nov 2020 19:00 Leinster Rugby 40 Cardiff Blues 5

Cardiff Blues battled bravely but left Dublin empty-handed as Leinster displayed their champions quality in the Guinness PRO14.

The hosts dominated for large spells and scored at key moments with the scoreboard perhaps not doing justice to the spirited Blues’ effort and endeavour.

It took the reigning PRO14 champions just 37 seconds to claim their first try through Dave Kearney and they led 14-0 after 14 minutes thanks to Jimmy O’Brien.

The Blues made it a hard fought contest after Aled Summerhill responded but the hosts displayed their ruthless streak in the final quarter as they scored four more tries.

Leinster’s bonus-point victory was now their record-equalling seventh in a row and they are now 26 matched unbeaten in the PRO14.

Cardiff Blues were dealt a blow when they lost Jarrod Evans to injury ahead of kick-off but could be proud of their battling display against a Leinster side bursting with strength in depth.

It took the red hot hosts just 37 seconds to open their account as Ciaran Frawley sliced between Ben Thomas and Owen Lane before putting Dave Kearney away. 

Harry Byrne added the extra and the reigning champions continue to exert pressure. They pressed for a second quick fire try, with their big men powering over the gain line but they were penalised for clearing beyond the ball.

On his first appearance of the season, after recovering from a shoulder injury, Tomos Williams was typically making a nuisance of himself. Flying out of the defensive line he disrupted Leinster’s ball before hacking through for good position.

Leinster exited efficiently and again demonstrated their ruthless edge as they sliced through from deep. Kearney was denied a second and Williams got the Blues out of trouble before a fine clearance from Thomas.

The hosts claimed a second try on 14 minutes when quick ball was spread to Jimmy O’Brien on the wing and kicked ahead, making Lane turn, and won the foot race.

Tovey managed to get across but the ball sat up and O’Brien snatched possession for a fine try. Byrne was once again on target from the touchline to give his side a 14-0 lead.

Three minutes later the Blues struck after winning a penalty in midfield. Tovey fired the ball into the corner and after good yards were secured by the driving maul, possession was spread to the left.

A long ball put Matthew Morgan in space and he fixed the defence before sending Summerhill clear. Tovey shaved the left upright but the try had given Cardiff Blues hope.

While Leinster threatened on almost every occasion they had the ball, Cardiff were growing in promise with the likes of Ben Murphy, James Ratti and Josh Turnbull carrying with venom and Ben Thomas sharp in midfield.

The centre created a second scoring opportunity with an impressive and classy outside break before passing to Garyn Smith, who had been struggling with a knock and lost possession.

Thomas continued to grow in prominence as he demonstrated his power, fending off two players just when he appeared isolated.

Byrne could have stretched the hosts lead on 35 minutes but fired wide and alarm bells were ringing for the Dubliners when Ethan Lewis grubbered loose ball and twice hacked on.

The hooker did remarkably well but Blues coaches would have been wishing a back had been in close proximity to finish.

With less than two minutes until the break, Leinster kicked to the corner and rumbled over from the driving line out to deliver a major blow.

Leinster led 19-5 at the interval and Cardiff faced an ominous task but they showed plenty of promise and perhaps over exuberance after the restart.

First Turnbull picked a fine line in midfield but his offload out the back to onrushing Williams failed to stick and minutes later another fine attack, which saw Summerhill scorch down the left and pass inside to the scrum-half broke down when Garyn Smith was unable hold onto an audacious offload.

Leinster, who benefitted from a number of marginal calls, dominated as the hour mark approached and searched for a bonus-point try with a sustained period of pressure.

Cardiff Blues defended heroically for more than five minuts, with no reward at the breakdown and Leinster getting away with what appeared to be a knock on.

Leo Cullen’s men continued to turn the screw but Cardiff refused to throw in the towel and eventually won a penalty to clear.

Cardiff Blues still had opportunities but crucial passes failed to stick and Leinster secured their bonus-point try, through Scott Penny with Byrne converting.

Penny claimed a second try, and a fifth for his side as play entered the final 10 minute, leaving Cardiff Blues coaches and supporters incensed for what appeared to be a blatant knock on in the build up.

Referee Mike Adamson checked with the TMO but it was adjudged that the ball had gone back.

Leinster had the final word with moments remaining, as they once again showed patience in their attack before going behind to Byrne, who unlocked the visitors' defence with a grubber kick behind, and Michael Silvester fully capitalised to touch down.