Sunday, November 22, 2020

By PA Sport Staff

Penny took his season’s haul to five tries, and fellow replacement Michael Silvester added his first senior score, as Leinster claimed a championship record-equalling seventh successive bonus-point victory.

Dave Kearney’s try after just 36 seconds – the Irish province’s second-fastest in PRO14 history – put them on course for a 19-5 half-time lead.

Jimmy O’Brien and Aled Summerhill swapped tries towards the end of the first quarter, with James Tracy’s maul score coming just before the interval.

Cardiff defended manfully but flanker Penny burrowed over twice before Silvester dotted down from Harry Byrne’s inviting 77th-minute kick.

Cardiff’s selected captain Jarrod Evans failed a late fitness test, so returning Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams was joined at half-back by Jason Tovey.

The visitors fell behind inside the opening minute, Leinster centre Ciaran Frawley ghosting past Ben Thomas to send Kearney over near the left corner.

Byrne converted and then added the extras to a blistering 14th-minute score from full-back O’Brien, who touched down from his own chip kick which Tovey had failed to deal with.

However, Cardiff replied from their first serious attack, whipping the ball wide from a 17th-minute maul for winger Summerhill to slid over in the far corner.

It remained 14-5 despite some speedy sniping from Luke McGrath and Cardiff centre Thomas, who was starting to catch the eye in attack.

Josh Turnbull and company made the breakdown a real scrap and Byrne then pulled a penalty wide. But, with a clever kick from O’Brien forcing a late lineout, the Leinster pack successfully drove hooker Tracy over.

Breaks from Silvester and Summerhill went unrewarded early in the second period, and a determined Cardiff rearguard held Leinster up twice before Rhys Ruddock was pinged for a double movement on the try-line.

Nonetheless, with their bench growing in influence, the home side went up a gear to maintain their bonus point-winning form.

Upping the tempo off a Ryan Baird lineout steal, a series of pick-and-drives ended with Penny reaching over in the 66th minute. He did likewise five minutes later, aided by a latch from Baird.

It was a cruel finish for the battling Blues, who watched Byrne dink a neat kick through for Silvester to ground beside the posts. The fly-half tagged on his fifth conversion.

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