Leinster fight back to beat Chiefs
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Leinster tightened their grip on European Rugby Champions Cup Pool Three with a tense 22-17 triumph over Exeter Chiefs in a classic continental encounter at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Luke McGrath scored the lone try of the match for the hosts in Dublin 14 minutes from time as Leinster Rugby completed back-to-back victories over the reigning Aviva Premiership champions to move five points clear at the Pool Three summit and one step closer to a quarter-final berth.
Exeter Chiefs came out with vengeance as they sought to right their Round Three wrongs, with lock Sam Skinner crossing in the opening try of the match just three minutes in.
Isa Nacewa reduced the Leinster deficit by three from the kicking tee, before a fiercely-contested affair heated up with the home side reduced to 14 men as Cian Healy was shown a yellow card.
Exeter Chiefs were unable to make their numerical advantage pay, but Gareth Steenson did push the visitors further in front before the break with a penalty kick as well as a conversion as Luke Cowan-Dickie forced his way over the whitewash as the visitors took a 17-9 lead into the break, with Nacewa penalties the lone Leinster riposte.
In an attritional affair, Nacewa continued to chip away for Leinster, adding another two three-pointers to bring the hosts within two points of Exeter Chiefs.
McGrath clinched victory, much to the delight of a raucous Dublin crowd, after an excellent break from Dan Leavy released the Leinster scrumhalf to flew over the line.
Pens: Nacewa 5
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Skinner, Cowan-Dickie
Cons: Steenson 2
Yellow cards: Cian Healy (Leinster, 17 - foul play, dangerous charge); Scott Fardy (Leinster, 31 - cynical play, collapsing the maul)
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 James Ryan, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Jordan Larmour.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachlan Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Don Armand, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tom Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Tom Waldrom, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Sam Hill, 23 James Short.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Mathieu Noirot (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)