Leaders Leinster overcome battling Cardiff to claim Arms Park win

Leaders Leinster overcome battling Cardiff to claim Arms Park win

United Rugby Championship leaders Leinster overcame fierce Cardiff resistance to claim a 33-20 bonus-point victory at the Arms Park.

Leinster, unbeaten in the competition against Welsh opposition since Cardiff beat them more than two years ago, conceded 15 unanswered points and trailed just after half-time.

But they ultimately overpowered their hosts to post a ninth win of the URC campaign as tries from wing Rob Russell, number eight Max Deegan, hooker John McKee and replacement prop Michael Milne’s double saw them home, while fly-half Ross Byrne kicked four conversions.

Cardiff, inspired by two tries from Wales international prop Rhys Carre and an Aled Summerhill touchdown, pushed their opponents hard, yet their only other points came via a Tinus de Beer conversion and penalty.

Leinster blasted out of the blocks and rocked Cardiff with two tries inside the first 10 minutes.

Prop Tom Clarkson proved key in the opener, breaking clear before finding Russell with a scoring pass, then Deegan crashed over from close range and one Byrne conversion made it 12-0.

Cardiff were rocked back on their heels, but they put some promising passages of play together either side of a De Beer penalty, with Summerhill and Owen Lane offering attacking threats.

Cardiff continued to make headway and they were rewarded four minutes before half-time through a lineout move straight off the training ground that worked to perfection.

Carre was the beneficiary, finishing powerfully after scrum-half Ellis Bevan put him in space from accurate set-piece possession, then Carre struck again on the stroke of half-time after De Beer’s conversion cut Cardiff’s deficit to two points.

Flanker Thomas Young almost breached Leinster’s cover before visiting full-back Jordan Larmour was yellow-carded for a technical infringement and brute strength was again to the fore as Carre smashed through two Leinster defenders for his second try that secured a 15-12 interval advantage.

Leinster thought they had regained the lead when Clarkson crossed from close range, but he was held up over the line by Young.

Cardiff could only hold out for another five minutes, though, as relentless pressure exerted through the Leinster forwards ended with Milne touching down and Byrne converting.

Milne’s second try on the hour mark, again converted by Byrne, put daylight between the teams, although Cardiff summoned a Summerhill consolation six minutes from time after McKee had gone over.

BKT United Rugby Championship Player of the Match

Replacement Leinster prop Michael Milne had a night to savour in Cardiff, scoring two tries during 11 second-half minutes to help turn the tide in his team's favour. Cardiff had scored 15 unanswered points to wipe out a 12-0 deficit, but Milne's close-range double put Leinster on their way to a bonus-point victory that retained their position as clear United Rugby Championship leaders.

Play of the Match

It came after just four minutes as Leinster blasted out of the starting blocks. Cardiff had a kick on halfway partially charged down, and Leinster were in attack mode as quick as a flash. Prop Tom Clarkson showed an impressive turn of speed as Leinster's reaction times left Cardiff defenders treading water before Clarkson's pass sent wing Rob Russell clear for an outstanding score.

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