Planet Rugby

Connacht pipped by Leinster

27th March 2010 18:17

Share:

Fionn Carr for Ireland A

So close: Two tries Fionn Carr

A last-minute drop-goal from Ireland and Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton saw off a sprited Connacht 17-14 at the RDS on Saturday.

This was top versus bottom in the Magners League but Connacht really turned the tables on a much-fancied Leinster side, giving themselves every chance of recording their first victory in Dublin since 2002.

Winger Fionn Carr, a former Leinster Academy player, showed his home province what they are missing with two excellent tries in the opening 22 minutes.

Ireland and Lions star Rob Kearney touched down to close the gap to 14-8 at half-time, and Sexton won the battle of the out-halves in the second period by landing two penalties and the decisive 79th-minute drop goal.

It was cruel luck for Connacht for whom Ian Keatley missed two drop goal efforts and his fellow replacement Sean Cronin was inches away from scoring a try, with seven minutes remaining.

This inter-provincial derby was just 83 seconds old when Carr crashed over for his first try. Connacht's danger man, who has yet to feature for Ireland at Test level, caught Shaun Berne, Girvan Dempsey and Kearney all off guard as he cut in from the left and sprinted clear and under the posts.

New Zealander Miah Nikora added the conversion and although Connacht conceded a raft of penalties in the opening quarter, Leinster's sole reward was a fifth minute strike from Sexton.

The hosts' territorial dominance came to nothing and they were rocked again when Dempsey was robbed at a ruck and Carr linked with Nikora before gleefully dotting down to the left of the posts.

Nikora, with a considerable wind behind him, fired over a brilliant conversion to increase the pressure on Leinster who were missing the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Cian Healy and Jamie Heaslip.

Michael Cheika's men looked back on track, six minutes later, as Kearney dummied his way past Brian Tuohy and Aidan Wynne, just outside the visitors' 22, on the way to a well-taken try.

Sexton failed to convert and also pushed an injury-time penalty effort to the right of the posts, as Connacht held a six-point advantage at the break.

With Leo Cullen and his forward colleagues getting more of a grip on matters up front, Leinster reduced the arrears to three points thanks to Sexton - although the recent Six Nations debutant's radar was off in the 50th minute when he had a chance to level.

Drama followed as, with twelve minutes to go, Connacht lost full-back and captain for the day, Gavin Duffy, to the sin-bin for a punch, spotted by the touch judge. The television replay showed Duffy tangling with Fergus McFadden, but there was little or no evidence of a punch.

With the electric Carr continuing to threaten, Connacht looked like they might survive and a rousing breakaway almost had the perfect ending as Cronin sped towards the line. However, a desperate tackle from Dempsey felled the hooker, and Kearney got his arms under the ball to prevent the try.

Keatley then missed the easier of his two drop goal shots, from in front of the posts, and although Leinster scrum half Eoin Reddan did likewise at the other end, his half-back partner Sexton kept his nerve to coolly slot a 40-metre drop and dash Connacht's hopes at the death.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Kearney
Pen: Sexton 3
Drop: Sexton

For Connacht:
Tries: Carr 2
Con: Nikora 2

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Girvan Dempsey, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Shaun Berne, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Stephen Keogh, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Mike Ross, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Stan Wright.
Replacements: 16 Bernard Jackman, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Devin Toner, 19 Paul Ryan, 20 Paul O'Donohoe, 21 Eoin O'Malley, 22 Simon Keogh.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 Brian Tuohy, 13 Aidan Wynne, 12 Keith Matthews, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Mike McComish, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Robbie Morris, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jamie Hagan, 18 Michael Swift, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Conor O'Loughlin, 21 Ian Keatley, 22 Troy Nathan.

Referee: Jerome Garces (FFR)
Assistant Referees: S McDowell (IRFU), J Quinn (IRFU)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (IRFU)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand20:50
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
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
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
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
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
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
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615