Pro14: Leinster overcome Ulster in exhilarating 54-42 inter-provincial derby
|Pro14: Leinster 54-42 Ulster|
|Leinster (33) 54|
|Tries: Deegan 2, Penny 2, Henshaw, McFadden, R Kearney, Kelleher Cons: H Byrne 6|
|Ulster (14) 42|
|Tries: Kernohan, Faddes, Gilroy, Jones 2, Stewart Cons: Johnston 6|
Leinster got the better of Ulster in a frantic 14-try inter-provincial derby at RDS Arena.
Max Deegan, Robbie Henshaw and two Scott Penny tries saw the hosts secure the bonus point within half an hour.
Angus Kernohan and Matt Faddes responded for Ulster before Fergus McFadden, Rob Kearney, Cian Kelleher and Deegan extended Leinster's lead.
Craig Gilroy, Greg Jones and Johnny Stewart all crossed in the second half as Ulster left with a bonus point.
The result sees Leinster extend their lead at the top of Pro14 Conference A, with Ulster eight points behind in second.
Byrne leads Leinster's scintillating first half
With the vast majority of first-team regulars rested by both sides, the game was a chance for fringe players from both provinces to impress.
Harry Byrne superbly steered Leinster's ship from fly-half as the reigning league champions cut loose in the opening 30 minutes.
Deegan and Kernohan exchanged tries in the opening 10 minutes before the hosts took hold of proceedings.
Penny crossed for the first of his two scores before Matt Faddes, the only Ulster player to retain his starting place from last weekend's starting win over Harlequins, was sin-binned for a high tackle.
Leinster wasted little time in making their numerical advantage as Penny went over again before Henshaw collected Byrne's inch-perfect crossfield kick to seal the bonus point.
To their credit, Ulster continued to attack with tempo with what little possession they had, and the visitors found a second score when Faddes raced in having picked up a loose ball.
McFadden's close-range dart down the blindside saw Leinster take a 19-point lead into the break.
Ulster youngsters show promise
After the break Leinster were unrelenting, with Byrne again at the heart of a move that saw Kearney score his side's sixth try.
Their lead was extended to 33 points just five minutes later when Kelleher showed impressive speed to finish after collecting a smart crossfield kick from McFadden.
Trailing 47-14 with half an hour remaining, it looked as though an inexperienced Ulster side were heading towards a harrowing defeat reminiscent of the 64-7 mauling they received at Thomond Park last season.
However the northern province rallied, and when Gilroy picked off Penny's pass to score, thoughts turned to capturing a bonus point.
After Deegan's pick-and-go gave Leinster their eighth try, Ulster secured their point as back row Greg Jones drove over at the back of a maul.
Jones repeated the feat nine minutes later before replacement scrum-half Stewart squeezed over with the game's final act.
Leinster: R Kearney; McFadden, O'Brien, Henshaw, Kelleher; H Byrne, Gibson-Park; Dooley, Cronin, Porter, Fardy (capt), Murphy, Connors, Penny, Deegan.
Replacements: B Byrne, Healy, Salanoa, Dowling, Van der Flier, O'Sullivan, Frawley, C O'Brien.
Ulster: Lyttle; Gilroy, Faddes, Curtis, Kernohan; Johnston, Shanahan; Warwick, McBurney, O'Toole, D O'Connor, A O'Connor (capt), Matthew Rea, Timoney, Jones.
Replacements: Andrew, McCall, Kane, Regan, Allison, Stewart, S Moore, McIlroy.