RaboDirect Pro 12: Leinster too strong for Newport Gwent Dragons
Last Updated: 01/03/13 9:26pm
Steffan Jones: The Dragons fly-half scored all their points in home defeat
Leinster held off a one-man performance by Newport Gwent Dragons' Steffan Jones to ease to a 26-19 victory at Rodney Parade.
The fly-half scored two tries, two penalties and a drop goal, but it all proved to be in vain for the Dragons as the Irish side ran out comfortable bonus point winners to consolidate their place in the play-off zone.
A brace apiece from Sean Cronin and Dave Kearney as well as three successful conversions from Ian Madigan made sure the European champions recorded their eighth victory on the spin.
The Irish province proved far too strong for the Welsh side, who had won four of their last five matches in all competitions but never looked like derailing Leinster's play-off push.
It took just 50 seconds for the visitors to cross the whitewash with Cronin barging over down the left for a try which Ian Madigan converted. Jones kicked a penalty but Cronin scored a replica of his first try to make it 12-3 before seven minutes were on the clock.
Leinster had their bonus point well within sight when Kearney was put over down the right on 18 minutes following a powerful Rhys Ruddock run, Madigan again converting. But, despite centre Jack Dixon being sin-binned for a breakdown infringement, the hosts finally managed to stem the tide.
And it was 19-9 as the teams headed for the changing rooms courtesy of Jones adding a penalty and a smart drop goal for the Dragons.
Suddenly the hosts had the momentum and when number eight Jones crossed just a minute after the restart the home crowd were scenting a remarkable comeback. But Leinster took a few deep breaths and composed themselves.
They laid siege to the Dragons' line and the pressure eventually told with the bonus point score, Kearney the beneficiary of an overlap down the right. Madigan converted majestically and at 26-14 the wind was taken out of the hosts' sails.
Leinster, who headed into the game as the league's top points scorers, went on the search for more tries. However, it was the Dragons who had the final say with Jones reaching out over the line with the last play to ensure the Pro12 strugglers did at least get a bonus point for their efforts.