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Jack the lad lifts Leinster to victory

A quick-fire Jack Conan double set the tone as Leinster ran in eight tries to down Newport Gwent Dragons 54-22 at Rodney Parade and climb to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table.

No.8 Conan went over for two early scores as Leinster led 14-3 at half-time, and he was joined on the scoresheet by Jamison Gibson-Park shortly after the restart.

Adam Hughes then reduced the arrears but Leinster broke away with tries from Richardt Strauss, James Tracy, Hayden Triggs and a double for Luke McGrath.

Matthew Screech and Sarel Pretorius did dot down for the hosts but it did little to lift the mood at Rodney Parade as Leinster made it five Guinness PRO12 wins on the bounce and climbed to the summit after Munster’s home loss to Scarlets.

The Dragons actually started the game the brighter side and after some positive possession Dorian Jones slotted a simple penalty in front of the posts on five minutes after Leinster were pinged for taking down a scrum.

But five minutes later Leinster were ahead following a superb break from Joey Carbery. The full-back gathered an up and under inside his own 22 and after spotting a gap in the Dragons defence he raced 50m upfield before offloading to Conan who waltzed over, Ross Byrne adding the extras.

And No.8 Conan was celebrating a second try after 24 minutes following a Leinster lineout, with Byrne once again converting.

Newport refused to lie down though and continued to press for a try of their own, but despite several kicks to the corner their lineout failed to break through some rigid Leinster defending.

Jones did have the chance to reduce the arrears on the stroke of half-time; however he saw his penalty hit the crossbar and the hosts trailed 14-3 at the interval.

And things got worse for the Dragons just a minute after the restart as Conan this time turned provider as Gibson-Park jogged over after a good initial break from Adam Byrne.

Ross Byrne once again converted but Newport responded almost immediately as a superb run from Ollie Griffiths saw Hughes go over in the corner with Jones adding the extras.

The Dragons were buoyed by this and went looking for a quick-fire second but after several phases of play Peter Dooley forced a knock on in his own 22 and Leinster could breathe again.

And from the resulting scrum Conan broke and Carbery took off and captain Strauss touched down for the Leinster bonus point try, Ross Byrne converting on 54 minutes.

But the visitors didn’t stop there and just after the hour mark the Leinster pack was in full flow again after a lineout and Tracy dotted down, although Ross Byrne missed his first conversion of the night.

Newport stemmed the flow with a try in the corner by Screech on 66 minutes, but moments later Leinster were celebrating a sixth try as the Dragons lost possession and Triggs hacked the ball forward and outran the home defence to slide over.

This time Ross Byrne made no mistake with the kick and he was at it again shortly afterwards as great hands from Conan and Triggs set Adam Byrne away. He was stopped just short of the tryline but the ball was popped up to McGrath who went over.

And McGrath was over again for try number eight four minutes later with Ross Bryne converting, but the Dragons had the final say as Pretorius went over under the posts with Jones converting.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €30 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

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