Leinster battle into knockout stages
January 15, 2012
Leinster prop Cian Healy adds some grunt
© Getty Images
Leinster survived a bruising encounter with Glasgow at Firhill on Sunday, booking their place in the last eight of the Heineken Cup thanks to a 23-16 victory over the Warriors.
Rob Kearney and Isaac Boss scored second-half tries as Leinster finally overcame the Warriors' stern defence, Fergus McFadden added two penalties and two conversions to a single three-pointer from Jonny Sexton.
Flanker Sean O'Brien was sin-binned four minutes from time, with the game in the balance, but Leinster's defence held firm to seal their progress regardless of next week's result against Montpellier.
The Warriors, who earned a losing bonus point, were always within striking distance, but Leinster's class told. Duncan Weir kicked 11 points, while replacement Colin Gregor touched down for a well-worked second-half try.
The Warriors entered the match needing to beat the Dubliners and win next Saturday's match at Bath to have any hope of progressing at the expense of the reigning champions.
Leinster had not lost in European competition since December 2010, but were behind after six minutes when Weir successfully converted following a scrum penalty.
Glasgow continued to make inroads into the visitors' territory, but were undone by errors. Stuart Hogg beat Kearney in an aerial challenge for Weir's up and under, but the ball was lost forward a phase later.
Weir scuffed a drop-goal attempt as Glasgow sought further reward for their early dominance, but Leinster's defence stood firm. Home captain Alastair Kellock was penalised for not releasing the tackler, but Sexton missed the chance to level the scores after 25 minutes before making amends from halfway three minutes later.
Glasgow continued to spread the ball left and right, but the white wall - led by back-rowers O'Brien, Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip - proved impenetrable until hands in the ruck inside the Leinster 22 granted Weir the opportunity to restore the lead.
McFadden brought Leinster level at the interval with a penalty after Glasgow killed the ball at a ruck and the hosts found themselves behind for the first time in the opening moments of the second-half.Hogg hesitated when fielding Sexton's cross-kick and Kearney scooped up the ball to touch down in the corner. McFadden converted.
Weir kicked Glasgow four points behind after Leinster infringed at the breakdown, but visitors were always dangerous. An O'Brien burst freed Gordon D'Arcy and McFadden went in pursuit of the line, only to be stopped short.
Glasgow tight-head Ed Kalman was then penalised and McFadden booted the visitors into a 16-9 lead entering the final quarter, but following a lineout close to the visitors' line, Glasgow kept the ball tight before Gregor, on for Chris Cusiter, wriggled over in the corner.
Weir converted from the touchline to level with 16 minutes remaining. Leinster responded swiftly, laying siege on the Glasgow line and Boss squeezed through under the posts for a converted score with 10 minutes remaining.
O'Brien was shown a yellow card for infringing on the floor 10 metres out from his own line, reducing Leinster to 14 men for the final four minutes but, despite concerted Glasgow pressure, the Dubliners held firm to advance.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points