James Lowes would have been hoping for his side to have finished the season on a high following last weekend’s play-off defeat but the groans from the press box spoke volumes.
Leeds Carnegie – in their final match before becoming Yorkshire Carnegie – were ultimately out fought by a Leinster ‘A’ side who dominated in every facet of play at Donnybrook, Dublin.
Five tries to two told its own story but the disappointment of last Sunday clearly played a major role. Leeds had no answer to Leinster’s pace and power as the Irish province retained their British and Irish Cup title.
The visitors trailed 20-3 at the break and there was to be no let up in the second half. Leeds continued to fall off tackles as Leinster punished the Championship side for their sloppy errors and their indiscipline.
Lowes will have been fuming with the fact that his side had two players sin binned – making the task of coming to the home of the champions, all the more difficult. Cathal Marsh struck two early penalties for Leinster – the second of which came after James Doherty deliberately knocked on and he spent 10-minutes in the bin.
Leinster made their numerical advantage count just two minutes later and the outstanding Marsh was again heavily involved.
His perfectly weighted pass was collected by full-back Darren Hudson who breezed through three Leeds defenders.
Hudson was eventually halted deep inside the Leeds ’22 but the ball was recycled quickly and spun wide for Brendan Macken who had the easiest of tasks to put Sam Coghlan Murray in for the first of his two tries. Marsh converted for a 13-0 lead inside the opening 15-minutes.
Leeds stormed back up the other end of the pitch and after spending five minutes camped on the Leinster line, couldn’t find a way through a resolute defence.
Jonny Bentley eventually settled for three points as he fired over Leeds’ opening score of the game. Leinster capped a dominant first half performance shortly before the break when Luke McGrath sauntered through a gaping hole in the Leeds defence before touching down under the posts.
Marsh again converted as the home side took a commanding 20-3 lead into the interval.
Leeds introduced Lee Imiolek and Richard Beck for the start of the second half but it was their opponents who extended their lead three minutes after the restart.
Coghlan Murray crossed for his second try of the evening, which Marsh converted. Leeds’ plight was made all the more worse when Stevie McColl was sin-binned for killing the ball at the break down.
Marsh slotted over the resulting penalty for a 30-3 lead and Darragh Fanning soon got in on the scoring action when he crossed in the corner.
Marsh maintained his 100 per cent kicking record as he landed another touchline conversion before Leinster had to weather what proved to be a mini Leeds revival.
David Doherty collected Ben Hooper’s pop pass and he dotted down for the first of Leeds’ two tries. Bentley converted via the upright as they threatened to spring what would be the most unlikely of comebacks.
Jonah Holmes followed Doherty’s try four minutes later with a well worked score of his own. Bentley added the extras with a terrific kick but that was as good as it got for Leeds.
To their credit, they did throw everything at Leinster after their two tries but when Brendan Macken intercepted Bentley’s wayward, looping pass, he sprinted from his own ’22 to score under the posts.
Marsh converted for a personal haul of 19-points as Leinster became the first ever side to retain the British and Irish Cup.
For Leeds, their disappointing finish to the season was compounded by a performance that was far below the standards that they have set for themselves this year.
Leinster ‘A’: D Hudson; S Coghlan Murray, B Macken (A Boyle 71), N Reid (C O’Shea 47), D Fanning; C Marsh, L McGrath (J Cooney 76); J O’Connell (E Byrne h/t), J Tracy (J Tracy 53), T Furlong; B Marshall (R Molony 5), Q Roux (J van der Flier 59); J Conan, D Ryan, L Auva’a.
Leeds Carnegie: S McColl; J Holmes, J Clarke (J Barker 52), F Burdon, D Doherty (G Georgiou 71); J Bentley, J Doherty; C Beech (L Imiolek h/t), J Graham (P Nilsen 52), D Tussac (B Hooper 52); C Green, M Myerscough (M Smith 59); D Sisi (R Beck h/t), C Walker, J Rowan.
REFeree: B Whitehouse (WRU).