Leinster stretch advantage at top of URC table after dominant win over Bulls

Player-of-the-match Jack Conan was one of five second-half try scorers for Leinster in a dominant 47-14 United Rugby Championship win over the Vodacom Bulls at the RDS.

This top of the table clash was of Test match quality at times, with Leo Cullen’s men now nine points clear at the summit.

Johan Goosen impressed with three penalties and a try assist as the Bulls led 14-12 at half-time. Leinster captain Luke McGrath was sin-binned for a high tackle on try scorer Kurt-Lee Arendse.

However, having touched down initially through Josh van der Flier and Ronan Kelleher, the home side secured their bonus point by the 48th minute.

James Lowe and replacement Michael Milne did the damage, with Dan Sheehan, Conan and Liam Turner adding further tries past the hour mark.

Returning to the scene of their 2022 semi-final victory, the Bulls won two early scrum penalties and Goosen put three points on the board.

Although the 31-year-old fly-half made it 6-0 from just inside his own half, Leinster replied with an excellent 18th-minute try, started by Rob Russell and finished by Van der Flier under the posts.

When Bulls replacement Mpilo Gumede leaked a ruck penalty, a powerful lineout drive saw Kelleher extend the lead to 12-6.

However, Leinster were rocked when Arendse’s 35-metre run-in was immediately followed by McGrath’s yellow which could possibly have been a red.

Although Goosen landed his third penalty, 14-man Leinster, who had Jordan Larmour stepping in at scrum half, bagged their third try within five minutes of the restart.

It was a well-timed Joe McCarthy offload that sent Lowe over in the right corner. Harry Byrne swung over the difficult conversion.

With Larmour and Russell proving lethal in broken play, the newly-introduced Jamison Gibson-Park fed prop Milne to make it 26-14.

Despite Arendse and David Kriel both threatening, Sheehan showed his skills when kicking an overthrown Bulls lineout downfield, before winning a turnover penalty.

Milne released Sheehan to slide over in the 63rd minute after a bulldozing Conan carry. Replacement Ross Byrne’s conversion widened the margin to 19 points.

Number eight Conan broke Willie le Roux’s tackle for try number six. Arendse was unfortunate that his intercept score was ruled out for his apparent kick on Byrne beforehand.

It was left to Turner to complete the scoring via Russell’s return pass, with the elder Byrne tagging on his third successful kick.

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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