Leinster sneak past 13-man Connacht
Sat, 26 Oct 2013 20:38
Leinster needed a late penalty try to see of a spirited Connacht side at the RDS, with the visitors coming within three minutes of a famous victory.
Scrumhalf Kieran Marmion's first-half try looked to have won it for the visitors as 13-man Connacht clung on after losing replacement Ronan Loughney and Marmion to the sin bin in the last ten minutes.
But with the Connacht scrum crumbling and Leinster marching towards the line referee David Wilkinson pointed to the posts to ensure the visitors remain rock-bottom of the table after five straight defeats.
Connacht made the perfect start to proceedings when Leinster were penalised for going off their feet at the breakdown and Dan Parks kept his cool to slot the resulting penalty.
A second Connacht penalty, awarded on the halfway line, looked to be out of Parks' range but the veteran fly-half showed his mettle to split the posts from distance and make it 6-0.
But on eight minutes Leinster got themselves on the scoreboard and reduced the deficit by three points after Ian Madigan knocked over a penalty awarded when the Connacht front row went to ground at the scrum.
But then came Marmion's intervention, with Connacht pushing hard for the Leinster line the scrumhalf pounced on a loose ball to dive over the line to extend Connacht's lead, with Parks adding the extras off the tee.
Leinster looked to be working their way back into the game when Connacht were penalised for coming into the ruck from the side, Madigan kicking to touch and putting the home side in a dangerous position. But Connacht held firm and Mata Fifita led a break upfield to win a lineout on the Leinster 22.
With 12 minutes to the interval Madigan reduced the deficit to seven points as Connacht were pinged for going offside and the visitors were being forced to work hard to keep Leinster out.
Leinster exerted constant pressure on the Connacht line but the move broke down, Parks kicking his side out of pressure after Connacht were awarded a penalty.
But Leinster stole the ball at the lineout and with Connacht bodies failing to roll away from the tackle slotted his third successful penalty on the stroke of half-time.
A Parks penalty struck the posts six minutes after the restart, with Madigan also missing the target from distance after Connacht were penalised at the breakdown, his effort falling short.
Connacht increasingly found themselves under pressure and suffered a serious blow when Loughney was shown yellow for offside, only brilliant defence from the visitors keeping them ahead.
Rhys Ruddock looked to have put Leinster ahead only for the referee to rule Marmion had held him up over the line. But Marmion's late yellow card proved too much for even Connacht to cope with, and the Leinster scrum rolled forward to secure the penalty try, and the lead for the first time in the game.
Madigan added the extras to ensure reigning PRO12 champions Leinster stay in touch with the top four at the head of the table and extend their long unbeaten run at the RDS.
Pens: Madigan 3
Pens: Parks 2
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Mata Fifita, 5 Craig Clarke, 4 Michael Swift (captain), 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Andrew Browne, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Darragh Leader, 23 Fionn Carr.
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