Planet Rugby

Leinster claim pole position

26th December 2009 19:54

Share:

Jamie Heaslip Leinster charge

Jamie Heaslip: Weighed in with a crucial try

Leinster maintained their position at the top of the Magners League on Boxing Day, courtesy of a gritty 15-3 win over Ulster at the RDS.

Tries either side of half-time from Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip set Leinster on their way to victoryin a fast-paced festive derby.

The European champions made it ten straight Magners League wins at their Dublin base, with the result moving them back to the top of the league table.

Ulster fielded an under-strength team, with Grand Slam winners Paddy Wallace, Tom Court and Stephen Ferris rested as part of the IRFU Player Management Programme, while Willie Faloon replaced late cry-off David Pollock at openside flanker.

Leinster, meanwhile, had most of their frontliners on show, with CJ van der Linde and Nathan Hines the only absentees from the team that comfortably beat the Scarlets last weekend in the Heineken Cup.

In a frenetic start, Ulster's debutant full-back Jamie Smith took two good early catches to settle his nerves and lock Dan Tuohy carried well for the visitors who were gunning for their first away win over Leinster in ten years.

Buoyed by their back-to-back European demolitions of the Scarlets, Leinster turned down their first kickable penalty in search of an early try but Ulster's aggressive defence kept them out and a straight-on penalty from Shaun Berne opened the scoring on ten minutes.

Berne's opposite number, Niall O'Connor, failed to punish Sean O'Brien for a stray boot at a ruck and Ulster blindside flanker Thomas Anderson received a harsh sin-binning after he was adjudged to have gone over the top of a ruck after a hack through from Isaac Boss.

But Ulster showed great resilience while a man down - they backed themselves in seven-man scrum situations - and the game continued at a high pace with midfield breaks from Stan Wright and Simon Danielli almost setting up tries.

Leinster replacement Mike Ross was pinged for a needless offside and O'Connor converted the resulting kick to briefly level the tie, only for man-of-the-match Kearney to break the try deadlock five minutes before the break.

Gordon D'Arcy made the score with a neat step and sweetly-delivered offload out of contact and Kearney raced onto the pass on the 22 to outstrip the cover and ease over under the posts. Berne's conversion made it 10-3 at half-time.

Ulster's defence slipped up again six minutes into the second half when Kearney battled to gather his own garryowen inside the visitors' half and deftly passed to the supporting Heaslip, who swatted Smith away with a powerful hand-off and galloped over to the left of the posts.

Berne failed to add the conversion and Leinster struggled thereafter to carve out further try-scoring opportunities. It was Ulster who looked more threatening in the closing half-hour and they really should have garnered a losing bonus point.

As Leinster fell off the boil, Ulster were in desperate need of some better execution. The best of their chances came in the dying minutes when Shiels raced into space, and had Danielli held his pass out to the left touchline, a try looked certain.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Kearney, Heaslip
Con: Berne
Pen: Berne

For Ulster:
Pen: O'Connor

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Shaun Berne, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Stan Wright, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Bernard Jackman, 17 Mike Ross, 18 Nathan Hines, 19 Stephen Keogh, 20 Paul O'Donohoe, 21 Fergus McFadden, 22 Girvan Dempsey.

Ulster: 15 Jamie Smith, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Simon Danelli, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Chris Henry (c), 7 TJ Anderson, 6 David Pollock, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Bryan Young.
Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Ryan Caldwell, 19 Willie Faloon, 20 Cillian Willis, 21 Ian Humphreys, 22 Jonny Shiells.

Referee: George Clancy

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615