Sunday 17 December 2017

Sexton shines on RDS return

Leinster 31 Ospreys 19

Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton gets over for a first half try against the Ospreys at the RDS last night
Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton gets over for a first half try against the Ospreys at the RDS last night

Leinster made light work of the previously unbeaten Ospreys to move up to third in the Guinness Pro12 at the RDS last night.

The Welsh started with real zeal, looking for and finding space, while Leinster countered with the rip of Luke McGrath in the tackle and the zip of Isa Nacewa down the right.

When Dmitri Arhip was spotted napping on the wrong side of a ruck, Johnny Sexton slipped over his first three points on his way to a 100pc return.

Dave Kearney's timing into the tackle on James King drew applause and Nacewa was away again, hooker Scott Baldwin making up for a lost lineout with a turnover on the floor.

Alun Wyn Jones got over the ball to earn another penalty to ask questions of Leinster's clean-out work

A superb tickler over the top from Noel Reid forced an attacking lineout out of Sam Davies.

Devin Toner secured the maul. Cian Healy was prominent, eventually moving the ball to Josh van der Flier, who showed immense strength to ground the ball. Sexton's extras then made it 10-0 in the 20th minute.

The alert work of Garry Ringrose was the trigger for territory.

But Nacewa had to be certain twice in rescuing a dangerous ball and in his thud on Jeff Hassler.

When it was the Ospreys' turn to go to their maul, the superb Van der Flier was steadfast in resistance.

A reckless piece of hands to the head by Arhip on Nacewa was a yellow-card offence.

Luke McGrath came as close as possible to a second try when Sexton's drop was judged to be forward.

A series of scrums followed for the forwards to convince referee Marius Mitrea a penalty-try was deserved for Sexton to make it a 17-point lead.

Zane Kirchner and Healy were at the heart of a surge which concluded with Sexton picking up Leinster's third try, his conversion signalling half-time.

The bonus point was sealed from a razor-sharp move with Sexton finding the hard-charging Van der Flier for his second, the conversion making it 31-0 in the 45th minute.

It was left for Dan Biggar's quick flick to put Ben John in. Sexton was binned for offside as a consequence of an accumulation of penalties. This left the space for Dafydd Howells and King to restore a semblance of pride with the visitors' second and third tries.

Meanwhile, Ulster's Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson's 12 points were central to their 22-17 defeat of Glasgow in Scotland to go top of the table.

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