United Rugby Championship: Leinster thump Cardiff to make it 13 straight wins while Sharks edge Edinburgh

Luke McGrath Credit: Alamy
Luke McGrath Credit: Alamy

Leinster eased past Cardiff in a 38-14 victory at the RDS to make it 13 successive wins in the United Rugby Championship this season.

Tries from Max Deegan, Luke McGrath (2), Brian Deeny, Max O’Reilly and Liam Turner were added to by conversions from Harry Byrne and Charlie Tector.

Rory Thornton and Kristian Dacey crossed for Cardiff during the latter stages of the match, with Jarrod Evans knocking over the extras on a dismal night.

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Despite the returning Rey Lee-Lo landing a thumping tackle on Byrne, Leinster took a sixth-minute lead through their industrious forwards.

Having been held up short moments later, number eight Deegan powered over for an unconverted try following John McKee’s tapped penalty and an inviting pass from Scott Penny.

McKee and Deegan again gained ground, midway through the first half, before a slick penalty move saw Byrne release McGrath to make it 12-0.

An Evans spill spoiled a promising attack for Cardiff, while their pillar defence went missing when McGrath sniped over from a 29th-minute ruck. Byrne converted.

Turner’s barnstorming break – off a Ben Brownlee offload – kept Leinster on the front foot in the second half, and further pressure saw Cardiff winger Jason Harries binned for a deliberate knock-on.

Second-row Deeny then drove over with support from Deegan, Byrne’s conversion widening the margin to 26 points. James Botham was busy at the breakdown for Cardiff but for little reward.

Instead Leinster went further in front before the hour mark, Chris Cosgrave’s looping pass putting fellow Academy back O’Reilly over in the right corner.

Cardiff finally built momentum off a Harries run, and from a subsequent penalty, Botham was hauled down short before Thornton plunged over for Evans to convert.

Corey Domachowski’s eye-catching break led to a close-range seven-pointer from Dacey, yet a sidestepping Turner took Leinster’s try haul to six. Replacement Tector converted for his first points at this level.

Sharks hang on to beat Edinburgh

Elsewhere, Edinburgh slipped out of the United Rugby Championship play-off places after going down 22-19 to the Sharks – their first defeat of 2023.

Grant Williams and Marnus Potgieter scored tries with both converted by Curwin Bosch converting both to but the Sharks 14-0 up after 19 minutes before Edinburgh rallied.

Adam McBurney scored a pair of tries and Henry Immelman also crossed with Charlie Savala adding two conversions to send the hosts into the break 19-14 ahead.

But the South Africans had the better of the second half and Kerron van Vuuren’s try and a penalty from Bosch secured victory.

The visitors took the lead after five minutes when scrum-half Williams picked off a high pass in midfield by Edinburgh fly-half Savala and sprinted in from 40 metres, leaving an easy conversion for Bosch.

Edinburgh’s worries deepened after quarter of an hour when Wes Goosen was shown a yellow card for illegally halting an attack close to his own line.

The Sharks took advantage of the extra man within minutes, as a simple move down the line from a scrum ended in Potgieter scoring in the right corner. Bosch nailed the conversion from the touchline to put his team 14-0 up.

With nearly half an hour played, Edinburgh patiently made their way downfield, and after good work by Ben Vellacott and Savala, McBurney finished off after a one-two with Boan Venter. Savala converted.

Five minutes later, a brilliant 50-22 kick from Immelman turned defence into attack and gave the home side a lineout five metres from the Sharks line. McBurney grabbed his second from the maul, and Savala added the extras to level the scores.

They barely stayed that way for a minute. When a Sharks attack broke down, Goosen hacked ahead, Edinburgh seized hold of the ball, and eventually Immelman finished off in the corner. Savala’s kick was wide of the mark, but it was still a remarkable turnaround from 14-0 down to 19-14 down at the break.

The Sharks closed the gap to two points with a Bosch penalty a couple of minutes after the restart.

Then in the 60th minute, Bosch was just short with another penalty attempt from just inside his own 10-metre line.

Two minutes later, however, the visitors did regain the lead, with a close-range try by Van Vuuren after they had steadily exerted more and more pressure.

The conversion was missed, but in the end, and despite some frenzied Edinburgh pressure deep into time added on, that score was enough to give the South Africans the win.

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Munster see off Benetton while Glasgow Warriors put Dragons to the sword

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