A spirited Dragons side fell short of a remarkable comeback victory as Leinster came out on top in a high-scoring match at Rodney Parade.
Five penalties from the boot of Sam Davies had given the Welsh side a slender lead at the break, but a ruthless 20-minute spell from Leinster after half-time appeared to have killed the contest.
However, late tries from Luke Baldwin and Josh Lewis put the Dragons in with a chance of a surprise win, only for Davies to kick the ball dead, settling for the losing bonus point rather than chase victory.
Dean Ryan’s men had started proceedings well, with some uncharacteristic indiscipline from Leinster allowing them to build a 9-0 lead.
Leinster managed to keep their penalty count in check long enough to put themselves in an attacking position after 24 minutes – with prop Peter Dooley crashing over as the Dragons defence was stretched thin.
From the kick-off, more ill discipline from the visiting side handed Davies another shot at goal to stretch the Dragons lead – an opportunity he didn’t waste.
Once again though, Leinster showed once they got a sniff of the Dragons line, there was no stopping them. On the half hour mark, it was flanker Scott Penny who burrowed over the try-line – his seventh try in as many matches.
A frantic attacking set brought about a fifth penalty for Davies, handing the lead back to the hosts shortly before the break.
But they nearly went into the sheds at half-time further ahead. With the clock red, Leinster conceded a kickable penalty in their own 22.
However, the Dragons made the bold call to opt for the corner rather than take the points on offer. It appeared to have paid off when the superlative Ben Fry rumbled over, only for the try to be chalked off for obstruction in the maul.
Leinster didn’t make the same mistakes twice – cutting out the errors to pile the pressure on the hosts.
Some attacking pressure saw the Dragons reduced to 14 men as Lloyd Fairbrother was sent to the sin-bin on his 100th appearance for the Dragons, with Josh Murphy forcing his way over moments later.
The bonus point score for Leinster came via a penalty try – with the score being compounded with a yellow card for Dan Baker on his Dragons debut after he pulled the Leinster maul down.
Replacement hooker Dan Sheehan stepping full-back Williams to score and seemingly put the game to bed.
Late scores from Baldwin and Lewis in the final ten minutes handed the Dragons the chance of victory.
But rather than chance their arm for a remarkable victory, they settled for the losing bonus point.
Tries: L. Baldwin, J. Lewis; Cons: S. Davies (2); Pens: S. Davies (5)
Tries: P. Dooley, S. Penny, J. Murphy, Penalty try, D. Sheehan; Cons: R. Byrne (4)
See how the action unfolded below…