By Dylan James
LEINSTER secured a bonus point victory in Dublin, as the Blues struggled to contain the constant physical pressure of the Guinness Pro14 champions.
After only 37 seconds, Leinster centre Ciaran Frawley made a very simple line break, drew the man, and popped to Dave Kearney who crossed over. Harry Byrne secured the extras, putting the Blues on the back foot immediately.
It took Leinster 14 minutes before they disturbed the scoreboard operator again. The ball made its way through Leinster hands before Jimmy O’Brien lobbed the ball neatly over the Cardiff defence, Blues fly half Jason Tovey came rushing onto the bouncing ball but was unable to prevent O’Brien from meeting his own kick and crossing for Leinster’s second try of the match. Byrne grabbed the extra two.
After some impressive, powerful work from the Blues pack, the ball was shipped out wide and eventually full-back Matthew Morgan drew the final Leinster man, passing to Aled Summerhill who crossed over for Cardiff’s first score of the match on 19 minutes. Tovey missed the conversion, leaving the score locked in at 14-5.
Hooker Ethan Lewis of the Blues saw his name in the papers on 36 minutes. A foot race ensued requiring his dribbling skills against his opposite number in Leinster’s James Tracey, who tackled Lewis before he could make it to the line.
However, it was Tracey who stole the limelight just two minutes later. The hooker was subtly tucked in at the back of a Leinster-dominated maul, just meters from the line. Captain Rhys Ruddock drove Tracey over to make it three tries before half time for Leo Cullen’s men. The score at the break was 19-5 to the home side.
Leinster started the second half showing their intentions clearly, they wanted their bonus point. The first 20 minutes saw the Cardiff defence tested to its maximum ability, with consistent, physical Leinster pressure. Pick and go, pick and go, pick and go.
Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock exemplified his colossal presence on the field during these phases, but James Ratti did well to deal with him, quashing the chances of a score. Ruddock tried again for the line, amongst a mosh pit of heavy hits, but was penalised for double movement, thus ending a very long period on the back foot for the Blues.
Leinster got their fourth and bonus point try through replacement Scott Penny after a relentless surge on the Blues’ try line ended in success for the home side. Byrne slotted the extras.
The Blues defended valiantly once again, but were unable to prevent a Leinster score as Penny grabbed his second try just six minutes after his first. Byrne made no mistake in the follow-up.
Harry Byrne showed his quality again, slotting an inch-perfect kick through to replacement Michael Silvester, who dove across the line to make it quite a miserable Sunday viewing for the Cardiff Blues faithful. You guessed it, Byrne converted.
The game ended 40-5 and Leinster made it 26 Pro14 wins in a row, showing absolutely no signs of ending that run soon, despite some hearty defensive work from the Blues.
STAR PLAYER – Rhys Ruddock (captain), Leinster.
LEINSTER – Jimmy O’Brien, Cian Kelleher, Liam Turner, Ciarán Frawley, Dave Kearney, Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath, Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Ryan Baird, Josh Murphy, Dan Leavy, Rhys Ruddock (captain).
Replacements – Dan Sheehan, Michael Milne, Tom Clarkson, Devin Toner, Jack Dunne, Rowan Osborne, Michael Silvester, Scott Penny.
CARDIFF BLUES – Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Garyn Smith, Ben Thomas, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans (captain), Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Ethan Lewis, Dmitri Arhip, Ben Murphy, Rory Thornton, James Ratti, Alun Lawrence, Josh Turnbull.
Replacements – Iestyn Harris, Brad Thyer, Keiron Assiratti, Teddy Williams, Gwilym Bradley, Jamie Hill, Max Llewellyn, Hallam Amos.