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Dominant Leinster end Connacht play-off hopes

Sam Prendergast (left) and Max Deegan (right) congratulate Jimmy O'Brien after he scored one of Leinster's five tries
Leinster's largely second-string line-up proved far too strong for Connacht at the RDS [Getty Images]

United Rugby Championship: Leinster 33-7 Connacht

Leinster: (21) 33 FT

Tries: O'Brien, Conan, Frawley, Sheehan Cons: Prendergast 4

Connacht: (0) 7 FT

Try: O'Reilly Con: Daly

Leinster ended Connacht's slim hopes of securing a place in the United Rugby Championship play-offs by earning a 33-7 win over their fellow Irish province in the final-round contest at the RDS.

Centre Jamie Osborne was the only player retained in Leinster's starting 15 from last weekend's heartbreaking Investec Champions Cup Final extra-time defeat by Toulouse.

But the second-string Leinster outfit still dominated the first half as tries from Jack Conan, Jimmy O’Brien and Ciaran Frawley helped them lead 21-0 at half-time.

Dan Sheehan and full-back O’Brien added further second-half touchdowns with Colm O'Reilly notching Connacht's try.

Final RDS game before redevelopment

Connacht went into the game needing a big win and other results to go their way this weekend to secure a play-off place.

However, Leinster put those hopes to bed by earning a dominant win in the final game at the RDS before the stadium is redeveloped.

The hosts got off to the perfect start with Conan picking from the base of the scrum before powering his way over the try-line for the game’s opening score. Sam Prendergast kicked the relatively simple conversion.

Leinster continued to dominate in terms of territory and possession and it was a matter of time before they struck again.

A well-worked move from Leinster from the set-piece saw fly-half Prendergast throw a dummy before jinking out to the right and opening up space for O’Brien who finished the move to double his side’s lead.

Conan spearheaded another wave of attack from the hosts, surging forward in midfield before supplying a skilful offload to Frawley who dived over for the third try of the game before the break.

Rhys Ruddock (left) and Ross Molony (right) shake hands after their final Leinster game
Rhys Ruddock (left), who is retiring, and Bath-bound Ross Molony (right) were playing their final games for Leinster [Getty Images]

Leinster initially struggled to secure the bonus point following the resumption despite continuing to dominate territory and possession as Connacht defended resolutely.

Rhys Ruddock, who is retiring, and Bath-bound Ross Molony left the field to a standing ovation from the crowd as they were replaced.

Hooker Sheehan eventually broke the deadlock by steering a lineout maul over the line before crashing over to score the fourth try of the night.

Replacement O’Reilly got Connacht off the mark following a well-worked counter-attack but it proved to be a more consolation score on an otherwise disappointing evening for Pete Wilkins' side.

Full-back O’Brien showed his class once again, receiving a pass from Prendergast before weaving his way through the Connacht defence to run in under the posts, to conclude a comfortable win for the home side, who move back top of the table although Munster and Bulls both have chance to finish the regular season in top spot following Saturday's round of fixtures.

Leinster: O'Brien; O'Brien, Osborne, Frawley, Russell; Prendergast, Foley; Byrne, Kelleher, Clarkson; Molony, Deeny; Ruddock, Penny (capt), Conan

Replacements: Sheehan, Milne, Ala'alatoa, Baird, Deegan, McGrath, H Byrne, Ngatai

Connacht: Cordero; Jennings, Hawkshaw, Forde, Mallon; Carty (capt), Blade; Dooley, Heffernan, Bealham; Joyce, N Murray; Prendergast, Oliver, Jansen

Replacements: Tierney-Martin, Buckley, Aungier, D Murray, O'Brien, O'Reilly, Ralston, Daly