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Leinster Hammer Dragons to Continue Impressive Start

Leinster have maintained their 100% start to the season in the PRO14 with yet another brilliant win against the Dragons

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(Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have made it five wins from five at the start of the PRO14 season with a 50-15 Victory over the Dragons in the RDS tonight.

A brace each from Dave Kearney and James Lowe, along with tries from Michael Bent Harry Byrne, Ronan Kelleher and Hugh O’Sullivan saw Leinster ease past the Welsh outfit. 

Leinster got off to the perfect start with Bent barrelling over from close-range inside nine minutes with Peter Dooley and Ryan Baird helping over the line. The conversion was missed but it was 5-0 to the hosts. 

However, ten minutes later the Dragons got back into the game as Sam Davies knocked over a penalty to make it a two-point game. 

The men in blue hit back straight away stretching their lead with their second try of the game as they exchanged the ball with some brilliant handling skills on the right-hand touchline before Dave Kearney raced in for the five-pointer. Byrne slotted over the extras making it 12-3 with just over a quarter of the match gone. 

Once again the away side came back after conceding as Jordan Williams went over after the ball went loose in the opposition 22. Davies couldn’t cut further into the lead as he sent the conversion wide. 

With little over five minutes remaining in the half Leinster fly-half Byrne went in for their third try on his first start for the province as he burst through a gap in the Dragons defence to touch down. He converted his own try to give the hosts a 19-8 lead come the whistle. 

The hosts got off to a blistering start in the second period as a line-out maul four minutes into the half saw Kelleher go over for his side’s fourth try securing another bonus-point for the reigning champions. Bryne couldn’t add the two extra this time around but Leinster were on fire in the pelting rain. 

Two minutes on and try number five arrived as Byrne sent an inch perfect cross-field kick to Kearney, who darted forward before passing inside, but he got the ball back once again to jink inside to get over for the score. Byrne again failed from the tee but suddenly it was 29-8 to the hosts. 

As the clock ticked over the hour mark Leinster had another try as they showed some wonderful hands on the left-hand side, beating the on-rushing defence to send the ball to winger Lowe who had open-field ahead of him which he ran into to put the ball over the line. Byrne found his kicking boots to add the conversion from the left. 

Three minutes later and a bit of luck lead to replacement scrum-half O’Sullivan finding himself only needing to touch the ball down for the five-points. Byrne notched over the conversion to make it 43-8. 

Another two minutes on and Lowe and Leinster went over for another try, with the ball being knocked on by the Dragons, straight into Lowe’s arms, with the winger sprinting over from the half-way line for his side’s seventh try. Byrne had the easy task of adding the two points from in front of the posts to make it a half-century for the hosts. 

Dragons had the final say in the game with a last minute consolation try through winger Owen Jenkins who raced over in the right corner. The conversion meant that it finished 50-15 to Leinster.

The win means that Leinster have secured four bonus-point wins from their opening five matches and maintain a 100% record at the start of the 2019/20 PRO14 season as they look to win a third title on the bounce. Next up for the boys in blue is a trip to Connacht next week for their first interprovincial derby of the season, while for the Dragons they face another tough trip away to Edinburgh.

Leinster Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Jimmy O’Brien (7), Dave Kearney (8), Rory O’Loughlin (7), Conor O’Brien (7), James Lowe (8), Harry Byrne (9), Jamison Gibson-Park (8); Peter Dooley (7), Ronan Kelleher (8), Michael Bent (7), Devin Toner (7), Ryan Baird (7), Max Deegan (7), Scott Penny (8), Caelan Doris (7)

Replacements (8)


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Arendse enjoying proving people wrong as he returns to action

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Kurt-Lee Arendse enjoys nothing more than proving all those people who told him he was too small to play rugby wrong.

The diminutive 26-year-old, who is 5ft 9ins and 11st 13lbs, is one of the most talked about players in the world game right now, following his try-scoring exploits for the Springboks in the autumn internationals, culminating in his superb finish during last weekend’s victory over England at Twickenham.

Now he is back on Vodacom United Rugby Championship duty, having been named at full-back by the Vodacom Bulls for Saturday’s encounter with in-form Cardiff Rugby at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld.

Hailing from the Western Cape of South Africa, Arendse found his size was often held against him as he looked to make his way in the game.

Asked whether people told him he was too small to play the sport when he was younger, he said: “I’ve heard that a lot, but I don’t listen to negative comments. I just focus on what I want to achieve.

“We small players like to be underestimated, but at the same we like to prove people wrong. Whenever we get the opportunity, we look to do that.”

As for his mindset when he comes up against players who are much larger than him physically, he has the perfect riposte.

“Obviously guys are bigger, but they move really slow! They have their weaknesses, so you look to capitalise on those,” he says.

One concession he does make in terms of the size of opponents is wearing a scrum-cap, which is becoming something of a trademark of his.

“It’s just for safety because guys are bigger than me. It gives me more confidence in tackles,” he explains.

In terms of a role model when he was growing up, he name-checks former DHL Stormers back-three man Gio Aplon, who won 17 caps for the Springboks around a decade ago.

“He was also small and underestimated, but he kept on proving people wrong. He was one of the guys I looked up to and I was fortunate to play with him at the Vodacom Bulls towards the end of his career, which was nice.”

Starting out in age-grade rugby with Western Province and Boland, Arendse first made his mark in Sevens, initially for the University of Western Cape and then with the Blitzboks.

He was a regular fixture with the South African Sevens team for a couple of years, but with the World Series being put on hold due to Covid, he switched to the 15-a-side game by joining the Vodacom Bulls in 2020, going on to make an immediate impression with his speed and elusive running.

Last season, he made more clean breaks (24) than any other player in the Vodacom URC and was fourth in terms of defenders beaten (43), while he also showed his predatory prowess by scoring seven tries.

That fine form was rewarded this summer when he made his Test debut against Wales in Bloemfontein. He is now up to seven caps and seven tries, having lit up the international arena with his finishing over the past few months.

There were touchdowns against New Zealand and Argentina in the Rugby Championship and then this autumn he has crossed the whitewash versus Ireland, France, Italy (twice) and England, with the last of those seeing him scorch outside Marcus Smith.

On that Twickenham sizzler, he said: “It was a special moment for me to score that try for my team. All that really went through my mind was just to dot the ball down. That was it. It was nice to contribute to my team.

“It’s been my first season for the Springboks and there have been ups and downs, but I am grateful for the opportunity I have had. I am just happy.

“We enjoy each other’s company and we have a great leader in Siya Kolisi, who knows the game well. It’s just great to have the opportunity to play for your country. For me, it’s about focusing on each game, being in the moment and not thinking too far ahead.”

Now it’s back to the Vodacom Bulls, who lie third in the Vodacom URC and will be looking to go one better than last season, having lost to the DHL Stormers in the final during the inaugural year of the 16-team competition.

“We had a slow start in the Vodacom URC last year and took a few shots, but we analysed the games and did well after the first couple of rounds,” said Arendse.

He returns to the fold for a meeting with Cardiff, who pulled off a startling 35-0 bonus point victory over the Cell C Sharks in Durban last Sunday.

“It was tough for the Sharks. We will try not to lose against Cardiff,” declared Arendse.

Then it’s on to the Heineken Champions Cup, with the Vodacom Bulls facing Lyon and Exeter in the group stage as they embark on their first European campaign.

“It’s going to be a good competition and we are really looking forward to it. We can only learn from playing in the Champions Cup. It will be good for us in South Africa. We are definitely here to compete. I think people in Pretoria will come out in numbers for the games. It’s an exciting time for rugby.”

It’s certainly an exciting time for Arendse who is confirming the old adage that rugby really is a game for all sizes.

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


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Seven changes for champions clash

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Wales international hooker Bradley Roberts returns to the starting line-up as Dragons RFC face reigning league champions the DHL Stormers in BKT United Rugby Championship on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 12noon UK).

The Men of Gwent make seven changes from the side that was narrowly defeated by Emirates Lions for the league clash at Gqeberha.

Roberts is back up front after his autumn exploits with Wales and is joined in the pack by lock Matthew Screech, who makes his first start since his return on loan.

Huw Taylor takes the six jersey, alongside Aaron Wainwright and captain Ross Moriarty in the back row.

A new half back pairing sees the recalled Rhodri Williams and JJ Hanrahan combine.

Centre Max Clark joins forces with Steff Hughes in midfield while the final change is a call-up for Jordan Williams on the wing.

Harri Keddie, Will Reed and Aneurin Owen are the new faces among the replacements.

“We are most certainly going up a level against the Stormers,” said Head Coach Dai Flanagan.

“Their squad is very strong. They had a lot of development players in the side against the Scarlets, but it didn’t change the way they play.

“They have a DNA and they challenged the Scarlets a lot; they have line speed in defence and play a bit more with their back line than then opposition we faced last week.

“I’m sure they’ll have some internationals back this weekend because they go to Clermont after us and, if it was me, I’d want them involved.

“We are preparing for the very best Stormers team and we have to be ready.”

Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, Sio Tomkinson, Steff Hughes, Max Clark, Jordan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Bradley Roberts, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Sean Lonsdale, Huw Taylor, Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty (c)

Replacements: James Benjamin, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Harri Keddie, Ben Fry, Lewis Jones, Will Reed, Aneurin Owen

Unavailable: Elliot Dee (collarbone), Rob Evans (head knock), Lennon Greggains (finger), Ollie Griffiths (calf), George Nott (hand), Will Rowlands (shoulder), David Richards (hamstring), Jared Rosser (shoulder)

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


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John Ryan Becomes 13th Player To Join Munster 200 Club

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John Ryan starts against Edinburgh on Friday night, becoming the 13th Munster player to join the 200 club at the DAM Health Stadium.

Ryan has scored six tries in 199 Munster appearances and has earned 24 Ireland caps to date, he turned 34 in August and lined out for the Barbarians last month.

He is the third most capped player in the current squad behind Stephen Archer (252) and Dave Kilcoyne (207).

From Berrings in Cork, Ryan is a former CBC student and represented Munster at Schools & U19/20 level, and played with the International Club XV side in 2010 and 2011.

A Cork Constitution clubman, he has also lined out for UCC in the AIL and made his Munster debut away to Cardiff in September 2011.

After developing ulcerative colitis in 2011, Ryan had to battle with the condition in maintaining his weight but has enjoyed a long and successful career to date.

He joined London Irish on loan for the opening games of the 2012/13 season before returning to Munster and went on to make his European debut against Racing Metro in January ’13 in Thomond Park.

International recognition followed as he played in Emerging Ireland’s Nations Cup winning campaign in Romania in June 2014.

After his first European start against Clermont at Stade Marcel Michelin in December ’14, Ryan scored his first try for the province against Ospreys in March and finished out the 2014/15 season with 20 appearances.

Continued to increase his involvement every season and made 25 appearances in 2015/16.

A tremendous 2016/17 in both the red of Munster and green of Ireland saw him nominated for Munster Player of the Year and make no less than 9 Irish appearances.

A try scorer and Man of the Match in Munster’s 2017 Champions Cup quarter-final win over Toulouse, the previous November he made his Irish debut against Canada at the Aviva Stadium before featuring in every game of the 2017 6 Nations.

Included in the Ireland squad for the Summer Tour to the USA and Japan, Ryan made his first international start against the USA, going on to start all three Tests.

Made his 100th appearance for Munster against the Ospreys in September 2017 and finished the season with 24 appearances to his name. On the international front, Ryan was a Grand Slam winner with Ireland and also helped the national side to the Summer Series victory over Australia.

Made his 100th league appearance away to Cheetahs in November 2018 and was called up to the Ireland squad for the November internationals and 2019 6 Nations.

Signed a three-year contract extension in early December 2018, committing to the province until at least June 2022.

Scored his first international try against USA in November and made two appearances in the 2019 6 Nations.

Ryan was included in the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad that travelled to Japan in 2019 and featured in one game.

Made his 150th Munster appearance against Ulster in January 2020 and made 14 appearances over the 2019/20 season.

Featured for Ireland in the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup and the 2021 Vodafone Summer Series during a strong campaign with Munster that saw him make 17 appearances.

Departed Munster for Wasps at the end of the 2021/22 season but returned to the province on a three-month contract in October 2022 after Wasps went into administration.

Ryan started on his first game back against Ulster last month before featuring off the bench against Connacht and starts on his 200th Munster appearance in the vital clash away to Edinburgh on Friday night.

Munster’s 200 Club

John Ryan, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Marcus Horan, David Wallace, John Hayes, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Alan Quinlan, Anthony Foley.

View biogs of the players who have reached the 200 cap milestone here.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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