Pro14: Dragons v LeinsterDragons (6) 16Try: Penalty try Pens: Henson 3Leinster (13) 39Tries: Gibson-Park, Penalty try, Larmour, Leavy, Marsh Cons: Byrne, Kearney, Marsh Pens: Byrne 2
Leinster started their Pro14 campaign with an impressive bonus-point win over Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Leinster nine Jamison Gibson-Park’s converted try separated the sides at half-time, with two Gavin Henson penalties keeping Dragons in touch.
Matthew Screech conceded a penalty try as Leinster took control.
Jordan Larmour, Dan Leavy and Cathal Marsh all stretched the Irish lead, although Dragons did claim a consolation penalty try.
Dragons had hoped to mark their first competitive match on their new Desso hybrid pitch – which combines artificial fibres with real grass – with a win and the Rodney Parade stands were packed on a sunny south Wales afternoon.
The return of Henson to domestic Welsh rugby, having joined from Bristol in the summer, had also boosted Dragons’ expectations and the veteran former Wales back opened the scoring with a simple penalty.
Ross Byrne replied for Leinster and then converted Gibson-Park’s try, after the scrum-half picked up from a five-metre scrum and caught the Dragons’ blind-side defence napping.
Henson added a second penalty but Byrne restored Leinster’s seven-point lead with another kick just before the break.
Leinster turned the screw after the restart and Screech’s desperate defence overstepped the mark, earning the Dragons lock a yellow card from referee Mike Adamson, who awarded a penalty try for the professional foul.
Henson added a third penalty but Leinster wing Larmour, the 20-year-old former St Andrew’s student making his debut, romped over as the home side ran out of defenders out wide.
Leavy then secured the bonus point for Leinster as the flanker crashed over from close range under the posts.
Dragons were awarded a late penalty try when Ashton Hewitt’s charge to the corner flag was halted by Adam Byrne’s high tackle, which saw the wing sin-binned.
But despite being a man down, Leinster added a fifth try through replacement Marsh after a loose Dragons pass was picked off on halfway.
Dragons coach Bernard Jackman told BBC Wales:
“In the 22 they were much more clinical than us, much more composure.
“We lost some key breakdowns, we weren’t active enough on the ground and we went to try and maul them and didn’t get any change out of it.
“The yellow card (to Screech) just after half-time with the penalty try probably took the wind out of our sails a little bit, but there were enough positives there we can build on.”
Dragons: Zane Kirchner; Ashton Hewitt, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos; Gavin Henson, Charlie Davies; Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Matthew Screech, Cory Hill (capt), James Thomas, James Benjamin, Harri Keddie.
Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Luke Garrett, Lloyd Fairbrother, Rynard Landman, Max Williams, Tavis Knoyle, Angus O’Brien, Jared Rosser.
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Isa Nacewa (capt), Jordan Larmour, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Jack Conan, Nick McCarthy, Cathal Marsh, Barry Daly.
Referee: Mike Adamson, SRU.