Planet Rugby

Leinster leap up the table

27th December 2008 21:27

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Rocky Elsom flu

Elsom: A try-scorer at Ravenhill

Leinster leapt out of the Magner League's mid-table zone with a well-taken 21-13 victory over Ulster at Ravenhill on Saturday.

The result brings Ulster's four-match winning run in all competitions to an end and sees Leinster up to third in the Magners League table.

After trailing 7-3 at the break, tries from man-of-the-match Rocky Elsom and a late effort from Simon Keogh, allied to three penalties and a conversion from Felipe Contepomi, helped Leinster keep in touch of a game which could have gone either way until the last 10 minutes.

In the end, Leinster's greater composure and control proved decisive.

The first quarter seemed to largely consist of a prolonged helping of aerial ping-pong, though within that rather uninspiring period Leinster came away with Contepomi's opening penalty and a memorable hit by Elsom on Robbie Diack.

Contepomi was then wide with his second penalty attempt just before the quarter-hour mark before a spilled high kick by Girvan Dempsey led to a moment which woke the rather distracted home crowd when Stephen Ferris hacked through and chased the ball towards Leinster's tryline as the ball rolled towards the posts.

Elsom dived to legally snaffle the ball and floored Ferris but, to howls of derision from Ulster's supporters, referee George Clancy called play back for what appeared to be an Isa Nacewa knock-on.

After 23 minutes Ulster suddenly put some air on the ball and, with Andrew Trimble running a decoy line between Paddy Wallace and Darren Cave, Wallace released Cave on an arcing run which took him past a rooted Dempsey and on to the line.

Ian Humphreys added the extras and Ulster found themselves in a 7-3 lead which they retained until half-time thanks to another Contepomi penalty miss and more than one visit to Ulster's line which yielded the visitors nothing.

Still, Leinster clearly came back out with some strong words from Michael Cheika ringing in their ears and set about putting together some decent continuity which saw Nacewa spin the ball right and Dempsey held up on the line.

Leinster recycled quickly and Elsom barged over out on the left three minutes after the restart. Contepomi's difficult conversion bisected the posts and Leinster had the lead, though it proved Dempsey's last involvement as he was helped off the field while Contepomi added the points.

Humphreys then tied the scores at 10-10 by making amends for an earlier penalty miss by landing his first three-pointer of the night after 52 minutes. However, on the hour, Leinster had the lead again with Contepomi's second penalty being a straightforward affair after Ulster failed to roll away from the ball under their own posts.

But Leinster failed to put more space between the sides on the scoreboard and after an awesome burst from Ferris - who for his efforts left the field injured - Humphreys levelled the scores again with a 65th-minute penalty.

But Leinster's strike runners still had more left in the tank and after Luke Fitzgerald snaffled an Ulster chip and chase from just outside their own 22, the visitors moved the ball left and right before newly-returned Gordon D'Arcy's line break saw Leinster recycle again and Contepomi's skip pass allowed Keogh to dive in unopposed in the right corner.

Contepomi was wide with the conversion but made no mistake when Ulster were penalised at the breakdown when trying to break out of a Leinster siege in their own 22.

The last kick of the game saw Humphreys' long-range penalty fall short and there was no bonus point for the home side.

The scorers:

For Ulster:

Tries: Cave

Cons: Humphreys

Pens: Humphreys 2

For Lenster:

Tries: Elsom, Keogh

Cons: Contepomi

Pens: Contepomi 3

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Bryn Cunningham, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 David Pollock, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Matt McCullough, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 Brendon Botha, 2 Rory Best, 1 Justin Fitzpatrick.

Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Tom Court, 18 Thomas Anderson, 19 Kieron Dawson, 20 Paul Marshall, 21 Paul Steinmetz, 22 Clinton Schifcofske.

Leinster: 15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Gordon D'Arcy, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Rob Kearney, 10 Isa Nacewa, 9 Chris Whitaker (c), 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Trevor Hogan, 3 Stan Wright, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Cian Healy.

Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Ronan McCormack, 18 Malcolm O'Kelly, 19 Stephen Keogh, 20 Cameron Jowitt, 21 Chris Keane, 22 Simon Keogh.

Referee: George Clancy

Touch judges: Peter Fitzgibbon, Leo Colgan

Assessor: Brian Stirling

Television match official: Dermot Moloney

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