European Champions Cup holders Leinster Rugby celebrated a superb weekend as they prepare to resume the defence of their title in less than a fortnight.
Fly-half Johnny Sexton, so prominent in Leinster’s record-equalling fourth European Cup triumph last season, was named World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year on Sunday, after the Irish province had defied the absence of a host of players to demolish Ospreys 52-7 in the Guinness PRO14 on Friday night.
Leinster, who visit Bath Rugby in Round 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup on December 8, are now 10 points clear at the top of Conference B following their victory at the RDS Arena.
Stand-in fly-half Ciaran Frawley underlined Leinster’s strength in depth in the No.10 shirt by converting all seven of the home side’s tries – which were shared around the team – and kicking a penalty for a tally of 17 points.
Then, on Saturday, Leinster No.8 Jack Conan scored a try as Ireland routed the USA 57-14 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium to make it four wins from four November Tests for Joe Schmidt’s side.
Our three new caps! 🧢
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) November 23, 2018
Man of the match was Munster Rugby wing Andrew Conway with three of Ireland’s eight tries. He was joined on the try sheet by two of his provincial team-mates in lock Tadhg Beirne and replacement prop John Ryan, who crossed the whitewash once apiece.
Munster fly-half Joey Carbery also enjoyed himself, kicking seven conversions and one penalty for a total of 17 points, to warm up nicely for the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 2 leaders’ home tie with Castres Olympique on December 9.
A day after Conway, Beirne, Ryan and Carbery made hay in Dublin, their provincial team-mates cruised to a 32-7 victory at Zebre Rugby Club in the Guinness PRO14.
MOTM | Congrats O'B!
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 25, 2018
Munster, still eight points behind Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors in second place, largely owed their PRO14 success to an all-round performance from centre Rory Scannell, who contributed 10 points with a try, conversion and penalty.
Glasgow had earlier coasted to a 40-15 success against Cardiff Blues at the Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night, with their Fijian winger, Niko Matawalu, marking his 100th appearance for the Scottish team with two of their six tries.
Peter Horne, left out of the Scotland team who beat Argentina 14-9 at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, landed five conversions to show he is in fine kicking form as the Warriors prepare to travel to Lyon in Pool 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup on December 8.
Cardiff, who visit Saracens on December 9, will look forward to welcoming back fly-half Gareth Anscombe from Wales duty, after he pulled the strings and kicked two conversions in their 20-11 win over South Africa at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday.
— Petrus du Plessis (@PetrusduPlessis) November 23, 2018