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Leinster 54 Connacht 7
“James, come off now!” commanded doctor to limping lock.
James Ryan damaged his calf – and possibly exacerbated it with two tackles in three minutes after Professor John Ryan’s on-pitch prognosis deemed his race was run – as Leinster banked the bonus point, faced by inexcusably weak Connacht defending, inside 20 minutes of this Pro 14 interprovincial derby.
Be under no illusion, this was more of a Pro 14 than derby affair.
This latest Christmas period proved that the days when interpro battles mattered in an international context – especially after a Rugby World Cup – have long since passed.
The killer tries – four in four visits to the westerner’s 22 – are worth a paragraph apiece, but Ryan’s ligament twist could alter the preparation of Andy Farrell’s Ireland with Scotland coming to Dublin on February 1st. The good news is that Ryan Baird – a more athletic if slighter version of Ryan (yes, St Michael’s have produced another one) – made an immediate impact with three forceful carries.
Ryan – the 23 year old remains an outside bet to succeed Rory Best as national captain – eventually heeded medical advice and gingerly waded ashore.
“He thinks he got a kick in the back of the calf, little bit sore, there’s an ice pack on the calf so we will get him assessed,” said Leinster coach Leo Cullen.
Leinster did not miss a beat with fifth and sixth tries registered before the interval by Luke McGrath and Max Deegan (his second). The 40-0 scoreboard suggested Connacht men sat under the old Anglesea stand staring down the barrel of a record and humiliating defeat. It also guaranteed a clean sweep of losses to the neighbours over the festive period.
Deegan’s first try was on the board inside two minutes. It was created by the Connacht lineout when hooker Shane Delahunt’s sloppy throw was picked off by Ryan, allowing Offaly prop Peter Dooley to power through the shoulder of Niall Murray before offloading for his number eight to twist over.
The second score came when Ciarán Frawley identified acres of space, duly switching the point of attack as Dave Kearney controlled Garry Ringrose’s over throw to scramble across the white wash.
This is the unbelievable add-on ever%sentence_ending
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