Leinster scored nine tries in an emphatic 59-19 win against the Kings in Dublin on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
This was a game that was ultimately decided by the difference in defensive quality between the two sides.
For all the good the Kings did on attack, and it was much improved from last season as they somewhat surprisingly took a lead in the first half, they could not muster the same efforts on defence and continually let Leinster in after scoring.
In the end, the final score was a little harsh on the Kings, given their efforts on attack, but it did illustrate just how much work the Port Elizabeth side needs to do to come close to the European elite.
The home side started largely on the front foot, using their strong forward runners to pick up momentum before swinging it wide at any opportunity.
It took just six minutes for Leinster to find an opening when centre Noel Reid found it all too easy to step past three tacklers and race in for the first try.
The Kings managed to get some possession and territory shortly after, but struggled to break through a solid Leinster defence.
However, some good work from Bjorn Basson, who sidestepped to his outside before crossing in the corner, saw the Kings reduce the lead to just two points.
The Kings continued to pile on the pressure, sucking in defenders with some forward drives through the fringes. Sarel Pretorius took advantage of this to dart over and give the visitors the lead.
It was short-lived, as the Kings continually slipped tackles with some poor defence allowing Ed Byrne to bust over, and Ross Byrne’s conversion put Leinster back in front. Minutes later, Byrne went over for his second, confirmed by the TMO.
Excellent hands from the Leinster backs turned a scrappy lineout into an attacking opportunity, which they capitalised on when Reid ran a good line on to a pop pass from Ross Byrne for the bonus-point try.
It was the Kings who started the second half on a high when Bader Pretorius made a linebreak from a scrum and held his composure to transfix the Leinster fullback and get his pass away to Ulrich Beyers to go in for the visitors’ third of the evening.
However, Leinster again managed a response as Barry Daly ran on to an offload from Ross Byrne. He sliced through the defence to score, before tighthead Andrew Porter then drove over the line from close range.
Going into the final 20 minutes of the match, Leinster added a further try when flank Max Deegan cleverly picked up the ball from behind a ruck and showed good pace to race through with nobody in front of him.
A wonderful set-move from the scrum led to replacement scrumhalf Paddy Patterson running in a try to bring up the half-century. Replacement back Rory O’Loughlin then reached over to complete the rout.
Leinster – Tries: Noel Reid (2), Ed Byrne (2), Barry Daly, Andrew Porter, Max Deegan, Paddy Patterson, Rory O’Loughlin. Conversions: Ross Byrne (7).
Kings – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Sarel Pretorius, Ulrich Beyers. Conversions: Bader Pretorius (2).
Leinster – 15 Barry Daly, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Conor O’Brien, 12 Noel Reid, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Max Deegan, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony (c), 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Ed Byrne.
Subs: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Jimmy O’Brien, Rory O’Loughlin.
Kings – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Henry Brown, 5 Andries van Schalkwyk, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 John-Charles Astle, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Masixole Banda.
Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images