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Leinster celebrate unlikely bonus on Toner’s 200th cap

Leinster 39 Cardiff Blues 9

By David Kelly

It was an unforgettable evening for Devin Toner, who led Leinster to victory in his 200th game, but forgettable for the neutrals until a late scoring burst sealed the most unlikely of bonus points.

A James Tracy try had helped edge Leinster 10-6 ahead at the break but three tries in eight whirlwind minutes from replacements Sean Cronin, Barry Daly and Nick McCarthy guaranteed Leo Cullen’s men a second successive maximum haul.

An early Steven Shingler spill put his side under the cosh early on but Leinster lost a five-metre lineout and Ross Byrne skewed an easy penalty attempt off target.

Soon after, Shingler kicked his side into a 15th-minute lead and he popped over a 28th-minute scrum penalty for 6-0 after Michael Bent lost his bind. Leinster were losing their way.

A Rory O’Loughlin burst, a Jordan Larmour shimmy and some fine carries from Jack Conan, in particular, helped them find it and soon they had mauled their way over the whitewash, James Tracy credited with the score.

Byrne’s conversion edged his side ahead six minutes before the break. Just on the whistle, Josh Navidi took out Isa Nacewa as he chased a speculative Byrne chip and the out-half’s penalty ended an undistinguished half with his side 10-6 up.

Shingler’s early penalty then narrowed the margin to its minimum but Byrne responded.

Larmour’s kick then sent replacement Daly scampering down the tram-line but most of his body traversed it as he attempted to dot down. Leinster were missing the invention and unpredictability of a Joey Carbery.

Byrne managed the quirky feat of snapping an upright with another penalty effort; this time his luck ran out and the ball rebounded to the ongoing clutter of the loose play.

He seemed more at ease with a longer range effort and dutifully spanked one from 45 yards to extend the lead to 16-9.

The game opened up and that suited Cronin; from the bench, he benefited from Scott Fardy’s half-way line steal and crossed.

Daly soared wonderfully to touch down Byrne’s lofted cross-kick in the 75th minute and suddenly the most unlikely of bonus points was there to be taken. McCarthy grabbed it, completing a fine team try from the restart.

In last night’s other game, Edinburgh continued their winning start with a 35-18 bonus-point victory over the Dragons at Myreside.

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