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Cardiff Blues A 28 Leinster A 47

Pathway | 24th August 2019

Leinster A displayed their champion qualitiy in the opening round of Celtic Cup action at the Arms Park.

Noel McNamara brought a young side to the Welsh capital, including some of Ireland Under-20’s Grand Slam winners, but the full-time outfit displayed their squad cohesiveness to cross for seven tries.

The hosts did show glimpses of their attacking spark, adding four second half scores of their own in a much improved display, with Edd Howley and Barney Nightingale dotting down to add to Cam Lewis’ brace.

Wales' Capital Region travel to Belfast next weekend, as they look to respond against Ulster A on Saturday evening.

The hosts looked to set the tone in the opening stages, as they forced a turnover in Leinster’s half immediately from kick off.

The attack remained patient for an opening, and it almost came for centre Alex Knott. The Pontypridd star latched onto Ioan Davies’ well-timed pass, but the defensive pressure was enough to force a knock on.

Despite the hosts’ strong start, it was Leinster who opened the deadlock. A Cardiff Blues line-out, under pressure in their own 22, faltered, allowing hooker Dan Sheehan to pounce on the loose ball and power over the whitewash.

Conor Kelly’s conversion attempt was off-target, but the hosts were dealt a further blow as co-captain Tom Habberfield was forced off in the opening 10 minutes.

Cai Devine semmed destined for the try line after taking advantage of a rare Leinster loose pass, but referee Mike English brought the play back for a knock on during the pick up.

Moments later Leinster stretched their lead to 12-points as a break from number eight Ronan Foley created an easy run-in for Cormac Foley.

Kelly converted on this occasion, but the hosts continued to look dangerous in areas. Following a good period of attacking pressure, with the likes of Evan Yardley carrying dangerously and Jamie Hill injecting pace into the attack, Sam Beard’s final pass to full back Davies was knocked out of the centre’s hands.

Leinster added a third as they continued to look dangerous with plenty of zip in their attack and an impressive offloading game, with centre Liam Turner adding his name to the scoresheet.

McNamara’s side seemed certain to make it four first half tries, but Edd Howley was in the right place at the right time to make a try-saving interception.

Davies and Hill continued to provide a spark in attack, and the former came close to crossing in the corner in the final moments of the half, but was dragged into touch by the final defender.

Leinster struck for two quickfire tries in the opening exchanges of the second half, with Foley adding a second from first phase following a scrum on halfway, before the pack showed their power to earn a penalty try.

Despite being temporarily reduced to 13-men due to injuries, the hosts did manage to register on the scoreboard. Hill showed vision and skill to send a long, looping pass over the top and release Howley in the corner.

Again it was a break from deep that created opportunities for Leinster, with Foley ’s support lines enough to secure his hat-trick, and take the Irish side past the 40-point mark.

Replacement outside half Ben Jones showed a moment of magic to release Callum Bradbury on the left hand side. Leinster were penalised, and hooker Cam Lewis touched down from the base of the resulting driving line-out to add the hosts’ second try of the afternoon.

Full back Jack Kelly was next to touch down for the Dublin-based outfit, but replacement centre, Barney Nightingale added the hosts’ third of the afternoon in stunning fashion.

Jones and Beard combined to make the initial break down the left hand side. Nightingale was in support and the Cardiff RFC player showed a combination of power and pace to break past the tackle and run in from 40 meters. Jones maintained his faultless display from the tee to add the extras.

Nightingale touched down for what seemed to be his second try, after a perfectly weighted chip from Jones, but the referee judged his support run to be offside. Nonetheless, advantage was being played and replacement hooker Lewis dotted down in identical fashion for his second, and Cardiff Blues A’s fourth.