Guinness Pro14, Round 6
Connacht 11 Leinster 42
The Sportsgrounds, Friday 8th November 2019
Connacht’s lack of strength in depth was cruelly exposed by provincial rivals Leinster in a rampant first-half display at the Sportsgrounds in Galway on Friday night. The game was over as a contest before the break. A brace of tries from front rows Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher, as well as a try from Ross Byrne, saw Leo Cullen’s side take a 29 point lead by the interval. A try from Stephen Fitzgerald restored some respectability to the scoreline before James Lowe picked off an attempted Dave Heffernan pass for an intercept try ten minutes from time.
Leinster showed their clinical edge with their domination of the set-pieces during the first half. They made the most of their advantage in the pack as the used their lineout, scrum and maul to bully their western rivals. A Connacht pack missing the injured quartet of Quinn Roux, Utan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury and Paddy McAllister was further depleted after only three minutes. Finlay Bealham was forced off injured after a hit from Will Connors. Sean O’Brien was also forced off with a shoulder injury on his return after a year out with a similar injury.
Andy Friend will be concerned by the availability of players in the tight five ahead of Montpellier’s visit to the Sportsground in their Champions cup opener next Sunday afternoon.
There are no such worries for Leo Cullen, as he was able to integrate six returning Irish Internationals to his side. Johnny Sexton and Garry Ringrose are also expected to return ahead of next weekends Champions cup opener against Benetton Treviso at the RDS. Leo Cullen confirmed after the game that Robbie Henshaw, who was a late withdrawal due to illness, should be available next weekend.
Leinster, after six wins from six in the first block of Pro14 games, sit top of Conference A nine points clear of second-placed Ulster. Connacht drop two places to fourth in Conference B on 19 points.