Leinster hold off Blues

Date published: September 26 2014

Leinster withstood a Cardiff Blues fightback to emerge 37-23 winners and get back on track in the Guinness PRO12.

Gordon D’Arcy was the star of the show for the Irish side, but they needed a try from Luke McGrath in the last minute to finally settle it as the Blues had come back strongly in the second half.

Matt O’Connor’s men came into the game after defeat away at Connacht and needed a win to get their season going, having also lost to Glasgow on the opening day.

The Blues had also struggled to find their best form in the opening weeks of the campaign, as new coach Mark Hammett tried to get his players to gel.

The game started in cagey fashion, with Ian Madigan and Rhys Patchell trading a pair of penalties as the scores were level after half an hour.

But Leinster finally found their way through when Jimmy Gopperth carried the ball to the line before finding flanker Rhys Ruddock on his shoulder to crash over for the first try. Madigan’s conversion made it 13-6, although Patchell added another penalty before the break.

Leinster looked to have ended the game as a contest early in the second half, when replacements Mick McGrath, and then D’Arcy went over.

The first try came from a long pass from D’Arcy to Madigan, who then fed McGrath who had enough power to stretch over, with Madigan on target with the conversion.

Then it was D’Arcy’s turn to be on the end of a move, collecting a lovely offload from Gopperth to go under the posts.

At 27-9 it was difficult to see a way back for the Blues, but they responded well with a first try through Cory Allen.

The centre took advantage of a Madigan error to pounce on the ball and go over, and two minutes later Sam Warburton added another Blues try.

This time it came from a Dan Fish burst on the left, and the Wales flanker’s score, converted by Patchell, cut the deficit to four points.

The game was beginning to get very nervy, but Madigan added another penalty to stretch the lead back to seven, before McGrath’s late effort sealed it.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Ruddock, M McGrath, D’Arcy, L McGrath
Conversions: Madigan 4
Penalties: Madigan 3

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Allen, Warburton
Conversions: Patchell 2
Penalties: Patchell 3

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Gordon D’Arcy, 12 Ian Madigan, 11 Darragh Fanning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (capt), 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Michael Bent.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Mick McGrath.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 George Watkins, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Josh Navidi (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Chris Dicomidis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Adam Thomas, 23 Dan Fish.

Referee: Ian Davies