Dragons defeated in season finale
A season like no other came to an end for Dragons with a 38-7 defeat to a clinical Leinster side in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup at the RDS Arena.
The power-packed visitors, in front of a crowd for an Irish test event, flew out of the traps in Dublin and three early tries saw them blast into a commanding lead.
Dean Ryan’s men showed plenty of spirit and dominated the second quarter of the game with playmaker Sam Davies darting over while the hosts were a man down.
But there was to be no fairytale finale to the campaign as Leinster eased further clear in the second half.
Two penalties gave Dragons an early attacking platform to strike from, but ripped ball saw Leinster break from deep as the game started at a breathless pace.
The home side showed their ruthless streak as a first attack and slick handling allowed Huge Keenan to free Jimmy O’Brien down the left for an easy run in. Ross Byrne converted from out wide.
Leinster were carrying hard and at full tilt only for a brilliant turnover from Ollie Griffiths at the breakdown to halt growing momentum.
Offloading at every opportunity, Leinster kept the ball alive and freed up space for Gary Ringrose to complete an impressive team try.
Rio Dyer was replaced by Ioan Davies early on, but the new man could do nothing to stop Jordan Lamour dotting down in the corner.
Home hooker Ronan Kelleher was yellow carded on 23 minutes for a head-on-head clash on Ross Moriarty.
Dragons nearly struck back as great hands and a strong hand off from Josh Lewis sent Rhodri Williams to the line, but he knocked on as he looked to ground the ball under pressure from Caelan Doris.
Fantastic vision with a long pass from Jamie Roberts then almost freed Ioan Davies on the right but the ball was lost in contact.
It was a case of third time lucky as patient work close to the line from the forwards grew in men and opened up space for Sam Davies to stroll over before converting his own try.
Taine Basham was prominent after replacing Moriarty and his side-step around Gibson-Park saw him dart down the left wing before chipping ahead as the half ended with a 19-7 lead to Leinster.
Second row Ryan Baird started and finished a superb solo score minutes into the second half.
The impressive Basham turned over ball as the Irish province threatened once more while at the other end the back rower made a line break but his neat pass to Aneurin Owen just failed to find hands.
Wing O’Brien had a try disallowed but there was no stopping opposite number Lamrour as powerful running and passing sent him down the right.
Openside Scott Penny showed his pace and power to bulldoze over after more sublime home handling.
A surging burst from Harrison Keddie and clever supporting run from Gonzalo Bertranou almost sent Dragons clear with five minutes to go but there was no late response form the visitors.
06m O’Brien t Byrne c 7-0
15m Ringrose t Byrne c 14-0
20m Larmour t 19-0
29m S. Davies t S. Davies c 19-7
43m Baird t Byrne c 26-7
60m Larmour t 31-7
66m Penny t Byrne c 38-7
Leinster: Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, Jimmy O’Brien, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Ben, Ryan Baird, James Ryan, Scott Fardy, Scott Penny, Caelan Doris
Replacements: James Tracy, Michael Milne, Vakh Abdaladze, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Cian Kelleher
Dragons: Josh Lewis (Dixon 45), Owen Jenkins, Aneurin Owen, Jamie Roberts, Rio Dyer (I. Davies 17), Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Bertranou 47); Brok Harris (Reynolds 60), Elliot Dee (Hibbard 77), Aaron Jarvis (Yendle 74), Joe Davies (Maksymiw 55), Ben Carter, Harrison Keddie, Ollie Griffiths, Ross Moriarty (Basham 23)
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Josh Reynolds, Luke Yendle, Joe Maksymiw, Taine Basham, Gonzalo Bertranou, Jack Dixon, Ioan Davies
Referee: Mike Adamson (Sco)