Planet Rugby

Leinster deny Blues in Dublin

16th February 2008 21:23

Share:

1LeinstervCardiff

Crunch Time: Leinster win the the battle of the top dogs

Leinster defended the summit of the Magners League by coming from behind to secure a gritty 24-17 victory over the Cardiff Blues at RDS in Dublin on Saturday, with three second-half penalties from Felipe Contepomi stealing back the lead.

But it was Leinster fullback Luke Fitzgerald who sealed the deal by grabbing a last-gasp try as the Irish province completed the double over the Blues for the first time.

Crowning a gritty comeback from the hosts, Fitzgerald chipped past his opposite number Ben Blair in the 75th-minute and got his left hand to the ball before it bobbled over the end line for the all-important score.

Having worked Maama Molitika and Nick Macleod over for tries inside the opening 11 minutes, Cardiff looked set to gain revenge for their 30-19 defeat to the Irish side in November.

But willed into action by 14-point fly-half Felipe Contepomi, Leinster stubbornly swung the tie in their favour.

Cardiff owned the ball for the opening four minutes, picking and driving their way into the Leinster 22 before flanker Molitika showed good co-ordination to touch down one-handed from close range.

Ben Blair added the conversion and the Blues produced some scintillating interplay for their second try.

Big Jamie Roberts made the initial thrust forward, Robin Sowden Taylor carried the ball on and found Jason Spice, who teed up his half-back partner Macleod for an angled run past Stephen Keogh and a smart finish to the left of the posts.

Blair again added the extras for 14-0 and Leinster were taking their time to settle - Contepomi knocked a Chris Whitaker pass on and centre Michael Berne lost sight of the ball as he chased an up-and-under.

They did find some joy by bringing the fit-again Shane Horgan in off his wing. The Irishmen gained some much-needed momentum and a 20th-minute ruck infringement from Xavier Rush allowed Contepomi to boot Leinster's first points, albeit after a dust-up between the Argentinian and Jason Spice.

With the Blues wavering slightly, Keith Gleeson and Ollie Le Roux, playing his first game for Leinster as a hooker, began to throw their weight around and after a long series of phases close to the visitors' try line, a Horgan pass put Berne stepping past Spice and over in the left corner.

Contepomi brilliantly converted that 32nd-minute try to close the gap to four points but Blair kicked the second of two penalty opportunities, just before the interval, to see the Blues turn around with a 17-10 advantage.

With their maul becoming an effective weapon, Leinster's pack grew in stature and Contepomi kicked the home side closer with a 47th-minute penalty.

The Blues were losing their way despite some fine kicks to touch from Blair and Tom James.

They lost Molitika to the sin-bin for persistent infringing at the ruck and Contepomi landed the resulting penalty for 17-16.

With Scott Morgan penalised at a maul just past the hour mark, the Pumas star then fired Leinster in front for the first time.

Cardiff clawed their way back into the Leinster half and won a lengthy penalty chance for Blair which he just missed to the right.

Macleod was also off target with a quick drop goal attempt and Fitzgerald's opportunistic five-pointer was enough to seal Leinster's sixth successive league win.

The scorers:

For Leinster:

Tries: Berne, Fitzgerald

Cons: Contepomi

Pens: Contepomi 4

For Cardiff Blues:

Tries: Molitika, Macleod

Cons: Blair 2

Pen: Blair

Leinster: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Christian Warner, 12 Michael Berne, 11 Gary Brown, 10 Felipe Contepomi, 9 Chris Whitaker, 8 Stephen Keogh, 7 Keith Gleeson, 6 Cameron Jowitt, 5 Leo Cullen (c), 4 Trevor Hogan, 3 Stan Wright, 2 Ollie le Roux, 1 Cian Healy.

Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Stephen Knoop, 18 Devin Toner, 19 Kevin McLaughlin, 20 Chris Keane, 21 Eoin O'Malley, 22 Felix Jones.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Jamie Roberts, 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Gareth Thomas, 11 Tom James, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Jason Spice, 8 Xavier Rush (c), 7 Robin Sowden Taylor, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Paul Tito, 4 Scott Morgan, 3 Tauf'au Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 John Yapp.

Replacements: 16 Gary Powell, 17 T Rhys Thomas, 18 Ben White, 19 Mark Lewis, 20 Richie Rees, 21 Rhys Jones, 22 Tal Selley.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)

Touch judges: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Ger English (Ireland)

Television match official: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058