Pro14: Leinster 35-5 Dragons

Guinness Pro14: Leinster v Dragons
Leinster (21) 35
Tries: Ringrose, Larmour, Lowe 2, Baird Cons: Sexton, Ringrose, Byrne 3
Dragons: (0) 5
Tries: Hewitt

Pro14 champions Leinster cruised to a comfortable bonus-point win over Dragons on the opening night of the 2020-21 campaign.

After a sloppy start, Leo Cullen's side ran in three first-half tries without reply through Garry Ringrose, Jordan Larmour and James Lowe.

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton's early departure was the hosts' only worry.

Lowe claimed a second and after Ashton Hewitt hit back in spectacular fashion, Ryan Baird crossed for Leinster.

Dragons were without injured Wales prop Leon Brown and full-back Jordan Williams with Aaron Jarvis coming into the front row, Will Talbot-Davies at 15 and Joe Maksymiw starting at lock.

Wales backs Jamie Roberts and Jonah Holmes also made their Dragons Pro14 debuts.

The summer arrivals of Roberts, Holmes and fellow Wales three-quarter Nick Tompkins had underlined Dragons' reputation as a rising force among Wales' regions.

But in Leinster, Dean Ryan's side were up against a team setting out to claim a fourth successive Pro14 title.

The gulf in squad depth and Leinster's winning habit are standards the Dragons are not alone in hoping to bridge.

Sexton led Leinster into the encounter, but his night was short lived and although his absence did not have a significant impact on the outcome, there will be concern for Ireland as the autumn internationals loom.

The Lions fly-half was seen applying ice to his hamstring following the game although Leinster coach Leo Cullen described his early departure as "a precaution".

Jamie Roberts receives his yellow card
Referee Andrea Piardi sends Jamie Roberts the sin-bin

Dragons were given little hope beforehand and after Leinster found their rhythm, the visitors' worst nightmare became reality.

Lowe's angled run through midfield put them on the front foot and a well-drilled sustained attack followed before Ringrose went over unopposed in the corner.

The move also drew a high tackle from Roberts that earned him 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

Up until the try, Leinster had failed to capitalise on early pressure, but repelled the visitors before breaking the deadlock.

Larmour crossed wide out as the hosts took advantage of the absence of former Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Roberts.

Sexton departed before Ringrose could step up to convert and after Lowe added the third, fly-half replacement Ross Byrne became the third player to convert a try in succession.

Dragons' best chance to hit back before the break came after wing Holmes darted through a gap, but fly-half Sam Davies stumbled as he raced into the 22.

There was no lack of effort, invention or purpose in the visitors' play.

Leinster, however, were more than equal to Dragons' challenge, and displayed a admirable clinical edge to their finishing, exemplified by Lowe's well-worked second score for the bonus-point try.

Even so, Hewitt's acrobatic effort at the corner flag was unmatched as a finish.

Dragons' defence was then at fault as replacement lock Baird left several bodies in his wake on a short burst to the line to complete the scoring.

Watch Pro14 highlights on Scrum V, 22:00 BST, Monday, 5 October on BBC Two Wales.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Ciarán Frawley, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Scott Fardy, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Seán Cronin, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Max Deegan, Luke McGrath, Ross Byrne, Tommy O'Brien.

Dragons: Will Talbot-Davies; Jonah Holmes, Nick Tompkins, Jamie Roberts, Ashton Hewitt; Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (capt); Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Aaron Jarvis, Joe Davies, Joe Maksymiw, Aaron Wainwright, Harrison Keddie, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Conor Maguire, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Taine Basham, Tavis Knoyle, Josh Lewis, Adam Warren.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR)

Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy, Chris Busby (both IRFU)

TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson (IRFU)

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