Leinster 50 Edinburgh 10 Cian Kelleher takes centre-stage as Leinster romp to Pro 14 victory
Cian Kelleher claimed a second-half hat-trick in Leinster’s crushing 50-10 Guinness PRO14 victory over Edinburgh at the RDS.
It was a sixth straight bonus-point triumph for the Conference A leaders, who are one away from equalling the Championship record of seven.
Helping the hosts into a 26-3 lead, Dave Kearney, Luke McGrath (2) and Peter Dooley all dotted down during a fruitful 27-minute spell before half-time.
Edinburgh replacement Nic Groom tagged a final-quarter try onto Nathan Chamberlain’s penalty, but player-of-the-match Dan Leavy and wing Kelleher pushed Leinster’s try tally out to eight in the end.
In a physical opening, it took turnover ball for Leinster to break the deadlock in the 12th minute. An overthrown Edinburgh lineout, coupled with a Leavy turnover, led to Jimmy O’Brien side-footing through for Kearney to score in the left corner.
Ciaran Frawley flashed the difficult conversion wide but was back on target after Kearney had turned provider. Breaking down the left, he fed a return pass back inside for McGrath to finish off for a 12-0 lead.
A well-struck 31st-minute penalty from Chamberlain rewarded the visitors’ reinforced defence, which was highlighted by James Johnstone and Luke Crosbie’s ball-dislodging double hit on Devin Toner.
However, as the interval approached, Leavy was held up by Pierre Schoeman before prop Dooley burrowed over from James Tracy’s quick tap.
Frawley converted and also added the extras to McGrath’s 38th-minute effort, the nippy scrum half evading Jack Blain’s clutches after being released by Frawley’s clever footwork and inviting offload.
Barely two minutes into the second half, a Scott Penny-led breakaway paved the way for Leinster’s fifth try. The pick-and-drives paid off when Leavy crashed over to celebrate his first start since March 2019.
Frawley tagged on his fourth conversion and Edinburgh’s night worsened with Eroni Sau sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on. Harry Byrne’s deft chip to the right corner was matched by an equally classy finish from a sliding Kelleher.
The wing was over again in the 53rd minute, profiting from two lovely floated passes from Byrne and O’Brien to make it 45-10.
A purple patch from Edinburgh, sparked by a Chamberlain break, ended with Groom grounding from a quick tap with 13 minutes remaining.
Leinster had the final say, though, as slick hands from David Hawkshaw and O’Brien put Penny through, and the flanker offloaded out of a tackle for Kelleher to complete a 25-minute hat-trick.