Planet Rugby

Leinster stretch lead at summit

29th February 2008 21:36

Share:

Shane Horgan Felipe Contepomi Brian O Driscoll

Slick Back: Shane Horgan scored to confirm his return to form

Leinster staged and survived a second-half fight back to claim a welcome 16-10 victory over Connacht at the Sportsground on Friday.

Trailing 3-10 at the break, the Magners League leaders scored 13 unanswered points with Ireland star Shane Horgan crossing for the decisive score, but not before the hosts launched their own late onslaught.

Down 16-10 and with Leinster's Cian Healy in the sin-bin, Connacht launched a stirring charge with prop Ronan Loughney falling just inches short of the try line.

However, just moments later, Leinster claimed turnover ball and breathed a collective sigh of relief when time was called on their seventh successive league win.

In wet and windy conditions, Connacht opened with the elements at their backs but struggled to convert early pressure into points.

Ex-Leinster man Andy Dunne missed two penalties, the first of which bounced back off a post and was knocked on by Felipe Contepomi leading to a five-metre scrum for Connacht.

Leinster's well-organised defence held firm off the set-piece, however, John Muldoon drew big cheers from the home crowd when he bundled former South Africa international Ollie Le Roux into touch soon after.

It was third time lucky for Dunne in the 11th minute when he drove a lengthy penalty through the posts after a ruck infringement from Stan Wright.

Connacht continued to batter away at the Leinster defence, but they were largely frustrated during a dour opening quarter.

Leinster managed to reply in the 20th minute in comical fashion. Contepomi was on target with an 18-metre penalty, but the wind was so strong it blew the kick back out through the posts and had referee George Clancy reaching for his rulebook before he confirmed the score!

Having refused a kickable penalty, Connacht kept themselves in the visitors' 22 and just missed out on a try when Colm Rigney fumbled a loose lineout throw from Leinster's Brian Blaney only metres from the whitewash.

Leinster's forwards began to put their imprint on the game in the closing stages of the half with a series of pick-and-go bursts that wore down the clock.

But with that blustery wind behind them, Connacht nabbed an injury-time try.

They targeted the Leinster lineout, forced a knock on and off a set scrum, Conor O'Loughlin linked with Dunne before Keith Matthews was sprung on a looping run and sent in under the posts.

Matthews was marking his first start since damaging his ankle in November and Dunne's conversion edged Connacht 10-3 ahead for half-time.

Turning around with the wind, Leinster managed to take the lead within ten minutes of the restart. Contepomi landed a 35-metre penalty and after a surging run from Wright and pass from Christian Warner, replacement winger Horgan beat off two tacklers to make the corner.

Contepomi's brilliant touchline conversion nosed Leinster into a 13-10 advantage, and the Argentinian followed up with a penalty on the hour mark as the men in blue turned the screw.

They had not bargained on Connacht still being in touch in the final ten minutes but that was the scenario as helped by some impressive cameos from Loughney and Ray Ofisa, the league's bottom side would not give up.

A thumping penalty kick into the wind from Gavin Duffy lifted the siege and had Connacht marching up to the visitors' 22.

The Connacht forwards produced an electrifying if unrewarding finish and the 14 men of Leinster hung on, unaware that Ulster's win over Llanelli had helped them go ten points clear at the top of the table.

The scorers:

For Connacht:

Tries: Wynne

Con: Dunne

Pen: Dunne

For Leinster:

Tries: Horgan

Con: Contepomi

Pen: Contepomi 3

Connacht:15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Keith Matthews, 13 Matt Mostyn, 12 Mel Deane, 11 Aidan Wynne, 10 Andy Dunne, 9 Conor O'Loughlin, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jonny O'Connor, 6 Colm Rigney, 5 Andrew Farley (c),4 Michael Swift, 3 Robbie Morris, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.

Replacements: 16 Joe Merrigan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 David Gannon, 19 Ray Ofisa, 20 Conor McPhillips, 21 Tim Donnelly, 22 Liam Bibo.

Leinster: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Felix Jones, 13 Michael Berne, 12 Christian Warner, 11 Gary Brown, 10 Felipe Contepomi, 9 Chris Whitaker (c), 8 Stephen Keogh, 7 Keith Gleeson, 6 Shane Jennings, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Trevor Hogan, 3 Stan Wright, 2 Brian Blaney, 1 Ollie le Roux.

Replacements: 16 Cian Healy, 17 Stephen Knoop, 18 Cameron Jowitt, 19 Kevin McLaughlin, 20 Chris Keane, 21 Eoin O'Malley, 22 Shane Horgan.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Touch judges: David Wilkinson (Ireland), M Black (Ireland)

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Touch judges: David Wilkinson (Ireland), M Black (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00