Planet Rugby

Connacht stun Leinster

21st April 2010 23:03

Share:

Gavin Duffy in Connacht colours

Full-back Gavin Duffy had a 'massive' game.

Connacht turned the Magners League table on its head to beat Leinster 27-13 and boost their hopes of qualifying for the Heineken Cup for the first time.

The Sportsground erupted at the final whistle as tries from Brian Tuohy, Michael Swift and Troy Nathan helped Connacht to only their second win over Leinster since 2004.

They won this equivalent fixture last year needing the boot of Ian Keatley to see them home at 19-18, but this result shows just how far Michael Bradley's men have progressed even since then.

They are now off the bottom of the league table and level on 26 points with Ulster, the side they are challenging for Ireland's final qualification spot in the Heineken Cup. Intriguingly, Ulster host Connacht in the final round over the second weekend in May.

This tie seemed set up for Leinster to win and guarantee themselves a home semi-final, especially with Brian O'Driscoll returning from a knee injury in a strong starting line-up.

But Connacht, bouncing back from Sunday's loss to Munster, rose heroically to the occasion with captain John Muldoon and full-back Gavin Duffy simply immense.

Connacht weathered an early Leinster storm before a side-stepping break from Duffy had Leinster scrambling back and had Nathan's pass out of the tackle found Tuohy in support on the right, the winger looked set to score.

Connacht had been outmuscled by Munster in the forward exchanges on Sunday, but they were much quicker and sharper at the breakdown in this clash, frustrating Leinster time and again.

Big South African CJ van der Linde had the measure of Ronan Loughney in the early scrums, but Connacht avoided a penalty try and secured two priceless turnovers in their 22, the second after Kyle Tonetti had broken the defensive line.

As O'Driscoll and Shaun Berne probed off Eoin Reddan's feeds, Leinster continued to batter away at Connacht's stubborn resistance. Some more committed defence saw prop Stan Wright held up over the try-line.

A quick turnover and kick downfield lifted the siege and from the following lineout, Connacht struck from the opening try.

The ball was swept out to the left where Aidan Wynne, Conor O'Loughlin and Sean Cronin all made yardage before Fionn Carr hurdled a close-in ruck and offloaded for Tuohy to nip in under the posts.

Miah Nikora added the conversion but was off target with a long range penalty into a slight wind as the first half ended at 7-0.

Leinster introduced Jamie Heaslip and Cian Healy for the second half and with O'Driscoll heavily involved, the eager visitors won an early penalty which Berne nudged over.

But Connacht floored the European champions with a tremendous scoring burst. First, Nikora dinked over a well-taken drop goal and then a thrilling counter attack, sparked by Duffy and continued by a flurry of offloads, ended with second row Swift, the province's most-capped player, racing down the left touchline to score in the corner.

Nikora's conversion added to Connacht's momentum at 17-3 and though Berne clawed back three points, another scintillating run by Duffy set the westerners up for their third try, cheekily scored by Nathan off a ruck in front of the posts.

Replacement Ian Keatley's conversion took Connacht's tally to 24. Leinster needed a break and they got it when Johnny O'Connor, also on as a replacement, was sin-binned for playing the ball on the ground. That was quickly followed by a penalty try - as the home front row gave way - and Berne's drop-kicked conversion closed the gap to 24-13.

But the tireless Muldoon stoked the fires for Connacht once again and when Cian Healy was pinged for not rolling away seven minutes from the end, his old school-mate Keatley converted the penalty to put Bradley's side out of sight.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Tuohy, Swift, Nathan
Cons: Nikora 2, Keatley
Pen: Keatley
Drop goal: Nikora

For Leinster:
Try: Penalty try
Con: Berne
Pens: Berne 2

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

Leinster: 15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Eoin O'Malley, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Shaun Berne, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Stephen Keogh, 7 Shane Jennings (capt), 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Stan Wright.
Replacements: 16 John Fogarty, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Leo Cullen, 19 Jamie Heaslip, 20 Paul O'Donohoe, 21 Ian Madigan, 22 Simon Keogh.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Preview
Newcastle vs SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 19
Connacht vs MunsterConnacht vs Munster Preview
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs OspreysNewport Gwent D
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Saturday , April 19
Stormers vs LionsStormers vs Lions Preview
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
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
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs 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
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058