Pro12 Connacht 24-37 Leinster

Barry Daly celebrates his try with Leinster team-mate Josh van der Flier
Barry Daly celebrates his try with Leinster team-mate Josh van der Flier
Pro12: Connacht v Leinster
Connacht (19) 24
Tries: Poolman, Heffernan Con: Ronaldson Pens: Ronaldson 4
Leinster (20) 37
Tries: Kirchner, A Byrne, O'Loughlin, Ruddock, B Daly Cons: R Byrne 3 Pens: R Byrne 2

Leinster have secured home advantage in the Pro12 semi-finals thanks to this derby win over Connacht in Galway.

Early tries from Zane Kirchner and Adam Byrne put Leinster in control before Danie Poolman went over for Connacht.

Rory O'Loughlin added another Leinster try before Craig Ronaldson's fourth penalty left Connacht trailing 20-19 at the break.

Dave Heffernan's try put Connacht in front but Rhys Ruddock and Barry Daly touched down to give Leinster victory.

Munster had briefly moved top after beating Ulster earlier on Saturday but Leinster are back on the Pro12 summit.

Leinster coach Leo Cullen rested a number of his regulars and it was the hosts who led initially thanks to a Ronaldson penalty.

The visitors hit back with two quick tries - full-back Kirchner grabbed the first in the right corner after linking with Mike Ross and Byrne, who claimed the second, gobbling up a loose Ronaldson pass to break clear from his own half.

Poolman goes over for hosts

Ronaldson reduced the gap to 12-6 and Connacht ended the first quarter with a typically swashbuckling try, with Jack Carty's kick releasing winger Poolman to raid over from the opposite flank for a seven-pointer.

Ross Byrne and Ronaldson swapped penalties as the fast-paced but error-strewn fare continued.

Luke McGrath's sniping break saw him go close before Leinster used an overlap to send centre O'Loughlin over six minutes before the break.

Ronaldson responded off the tee to leave just a point between the sides at the interval. Injuries robbed the game of wingers Niyi Adeolokun and Dave Kearney, but O'Halloran was a one-man box of tricks for Connacht.

Connacht's Dave Heffernan goes over for a try against Leinster in Galway
Connacht's Dave Heffernan goes over for a try against Leinster in Galway

Time and again, the Clifden man injected the necessary pace into Connacht attacks, one such surge seeing him link with Kieran Marmion and although McGrath denied his opposite number, the ball was transferred to the left where hooker Heffernan was able to finish off.

Unfortunately for the eager home support, that proved to be Connacht's final score.

Leinster upped the ante, seizing on another loose pass as Van der Flier pressed in the 22 before his back row colleague Ruddock rumbled over from close range to pocket the bonus point.

Ross Byrne's conversion made it 27-24 to Cullen's side and Connacht redoubled their efforts, O'Halloran leading their charge before a Carty pass was plucked down by a leaping Adam Byrne to foil a promising move.

Connacht's adventurous play, this time near halfway, resulted in a fifth Leinster try, prop Buckley's pass going to ground after he was tackled and replacement winger Daly hacked through and collected the bouncing ball to dot down.

Number 10 Byrne completed the scoring with a conversion and a subsequent penalty.

Connacht: O'Halloran, Adeolokun, Aki, Ronaldson, Poolman, Carty, Marmion, Buckley, Heffernan, Bealham, Roux, Browne, E. McKeon, Heenan, Muldoon.

Replacements: Crosbie for Carty (70), Blade for Marmion (74), J. Cooney for Buckley (70), Delahunt for Heffernan (65), Robertson-McCoy for Bealham (70), Dawai for E. McKeon (41). Not Used: O'Brien, Griffin.

Leinster: Kirchner, A. Byrne, O'Loughlin, Reid, D. Kearney, R. Byrne, L. McGrath, Healy, Tracy, Ross, Molony, Triggs, D. Ryan, van der Flier, Ruddock.

Replacements: T. Daly for O'Loughlin (70), B. Daly for D. Kearney (47), N. McCarthy for L. McGrath (70), Dooley for Healy (52), Cronin for Tracy (52), Bent for Ross (52), Nagle for Triggs (62), Timmins for Ruddock (74).

Ref: Ian Davies (Wales).

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