Leinster fight back for share of the spoils
December 3, 2010
Shane Horgan scored late on for Leinster
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Leinster launched a remarkable second-half comeback to grab a 17-17 draw and prevent the Scarlets taking top spot in the Magners League at a rain-drenched Parc y Scarlets on Friday night.
The Scarlets looked certain to seal victory after opening up a 17-5 lead but in the last nine minutes tries from Fergus McFadden and Shane Horgan earned the Irishmen a share of the spoils.
Rhys Priestland won the battle of the kickers, putting over four out of five penalties, with Jonathan Sexton missing 10 points with the boot before slotting over the conversion to Horgan's late try in order to level the match. Right at the end it looked as if the Ireland fly-half would have a chance at a drop-goal to win the match, but he knocked the ball on.
The match went ahead as Parc y Scarlets has undersoil heating, offsetting the freezing conditions. The home side welcomed back Matthew Rees, Stephen Jones and Deacon Manu from the autumn internationals and the trio were used as second-half replacements - Fiji skipper Manu picking up what looked like a serious arm injury. Fellow internationals George North (bruised shoulder) and Sean Lamont (bruised hip) were rested. Leinster included Ireland trio Sexton, Gordon D'Arcy and Eoin Reddan.
Despite the rainy conditions the Scarlets thought they had scored a try after only 65 seconds when Morgan Stoddart followed up a kick ahead, but on the intervention of the TV match official the score was disallowed due to Horgan getting to the ball before the home wing.
But the Scarlets did go into a fourth minute lead when Priestland put over his first penalty from a line-out infringement. Leinster did not have much territorial advantage in the opening period but they made the most of a Sexton cross kick when Horgan passed back inside for centre Eoin O'Malley to race over for the only try of the half.
Either side of a flare-up following a high tackle on Dan Newton by Sean O'Brien, which saw referee Nigel Owens give both teams a serious talking to, Priestland put two penalties over on to give the Scarlets a 9-5 lead at the break.
The Scarlets looked in control at the start of the second-half with Sexton missing two penalties and Rhys Ruddock, son of former Wales coach Mike, getting sin-binned for dangerous play at a ruck. With the extra man centre Gareth Maule went over in the left corner for the Scarlets' only try. But after Priestland missed a penalty from halfway Leinster launched a concerted comeback with McFadden squeezing over in the right corner and Horgan following him over only five minutes later.
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