It took Leinster a while to capitalize on the extra man but the champions took complete control of the second half to produce sweeping winners on the pitch.
It was always going to be quite a tense affair as these two formed up for the first of three meetings in four weeks, but the capacity of 8,129 spectators could hardly imagine both sides being reduced to 14 men within three minutes.
Leinster winger Tommy O’Brien was suspended for ten minutes for knocking out Niall Murray in the air after kick-off, but Connacht center Tom Daly saw red for a high, unwrapped tackle on Ciaran Frawley with referee Chris Busby saying both captains to get their teams to clarify their discipline and said there was no mitigation and the former Leinster player had to go.
Leinster scored in front just after they got back to 15, with Connacht gifting them the opportunity with a crooked throw from Dave Heffernan down their own five-yard line, and while Andy Friend’s men defended wave after wave, the champions went well through their halftime. back and Rory O’Loughlin scored in the left corner while Ross Byrne converted.
But Connacht dug in and was fully worth for their 8-7 lead as they made it easy to lose a man. They struggled at seven when Leinster had the put-in, with Conor Oliver falling behind and not conceding an inch and then bouncing back to eight when it was their ball and penalties won.
Jack Carty reduced the lead with a penalty after 21 minutes when Max Deegan was off his feet and then pressure from a fired Connacht side led to a try just before half-time.
They went in the corner with a penalty and then opted for a scrum in front of the post and with another penalty advantage, Carty slung the ball well over full-back Jimmy O’Brien’s head for Tiernan O’Halloran to stop his run to perfection and score. Carty went wide with the conversion from the right but Connacht went into home support in full voice at the break.
But after the reboot, it was a whole different story. Leinster sorted their set pieces and began moving Connacht across the pitch, making full use of the extra man as they ran in a one-sided half in six unanswered tries.
David Hawkshaw, who replaced Ross Byrne before the break after being substituted in the second half with an HIA, scored on 53 minutes against the side he will join in the summer after good breaks from Tommy O’Brien and Rhys Ruddock.
Hawkshaw converted from the right to make it 14-8 and Leinster never looked back, with Ciaran Frawley impressing on his return from a facial injury while Tommy O’Brien, debutant Chris Cosgrove and Jamie Osborne were full of races.
Inevitably, the tries flowed as Luke McGrath punished lax defense to come in and score after 56 minutes and Frawley capped an excellent game by crossing with 16 minutes to go.
Tommy O’Brien ran in a brace when Connacht folded in the closing minutes, and Max Deegan also got in the goal as Leo Cullen’s men drove to an easy win.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/pro14/ruthless-leinster-run-in-six-second-half-tries-to-punish-14-man-connacht-41491024.html The reckless Leinster runs six in the second half and tries to punish the 14-man Connacht