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Neath Swansea Ospreys (10) 19 - 17 (10) Leinster Rugby
Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Att: 10,702
Referee: Peter Allen (SRU)
Friday, 27th April 2007, 19:10

Leinster travelled to Wales for what was being dubbed a title decider. Leinster were missing Denis Hickie and Brian O'Driscoll and Ospreys had opted to rest James Hook with Shaun Connor deputising at out half. Leinster knew that four points would leave their destiny in their own hands while Ospreys were playing their last home game of the season and were looking to sign off with a win.

The early exchanges were scoreless, Shaun Connor missing a straightforward penalty and few opportunities being created by either side. It wasn't until 25 minutes had elapsed that the deadlock was broken with Connor and Felipe Contepomi exchanging penalties.

Ospreys were the first to breach the try line, Connor was involved again and he fed Filo Tiatia whose attempted pass to Marshall bounced forward. Nevertheless the referee and touch judges were unmoved and Marshall touched down leaving an easy conversion for Connor.

It almost got worse for Leinster when Connor appeared to be about to score a try of his own. D'Arcy made a last ditch tackle to put the Ospreys out half into touch and Leinster breathed again.

Having almost been 14 points down, Leinster found themselves level. Marshall, the hero moments earlier, saw his pass through midfield intercepted by Shane Horgan, and although the chasing Shane Williams caught up to tackle him, Horgan was already at the try line and the sides were level.

Leinster emerged for the second period in a determined fashion and they struck ahead in less than ten minutes. Rob Kearney struck a speculative Garryowen, but then did magnificently to find his way through a congested midfield to collect. The ball made its way to Contepomi who streaked down the wing. Faced with two defenders, Contepomi put the brakes on and changed direction leaving the defence flat footed, and although Marshall managed to make a tackle, Contepomi's momentum carried him over for a superb try.

The impetus seemed to be with Leinster, and Ospreys were forced to spring James Hook from the bench. It was to prove crucial with Hook first putting over a forty yard penalty and then, adding another three points after Jamie Heaslip was harshly sin binned. The Ospreys were only a point behind, and almost on cue the referee in consultation with the touch judge awarded a very kickable penalty. Horgan was adjudged to have obstructed Lee Byrne, and while it was clear that the Leinster centre knew where Byrne was, he hadn't moved into his path. Hook didn't care however and he held his nerve as he had done so much this season to give Ospreys a slender lead.

Leinster's response was predictably frantic as they looked to strike back. The remaining minutes were dominated by Leinster possession but ultimately lacked the composure to fashion a way back into the match. Leinster face matches against Borders and Cardiff knowing that both must be won to have a chance of lifting the trophy, however they also know that their destiny is no longer in their own hands.

Magners Man of the Match: Filo TiaTia
leinsterfans.com Man of the Match: Jamie Heaslip

Match Stats
  Neath Swansea Ospreys vs Leinster Rugby
Tries Marshall   Horgan
Conversions Connor   Contepomi (2)
Penalties Connor
Hook (3)
  Contepomi (2)
Teams Stefan Terblanche 15 Girvan Dempsey
Nikki Walker 14 Robert Kearney
Sonny Parker 13 Gordon D'Arcy
Andrew Bishop 12 Shane Horgan
Shane Williams 11 Luke Fitzgerald
Shaun Connor 10 Felipe Contepomi (C)
Justin Marshall 9 Chris Whitaker
Paul James (C) 1 Reggie Corrigan
Huw Bennett 2 Brian Blaney
Adam Jones 3 Will Green
Jonathan Thomas 4 Trevor Hogan
Alun-Wyn Jones 5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Ryan Jones 6 Stephen Keogh
Richie Pugh 7 Keith Gleeson
Filo Tiatia 8 Jamie Heaslip
Replacements Byrne for Terblanche (60)
Hook for Connor (50)
D. Jones for James (54)
Hibbard for Bennett (60)
  Lewis for Fitzgerald (65)
Jowitt for Corrigan (76)
Jackman for Blaney (40)
Wright for Green (40)
Not Used:
  Jamie Heaslip

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-05-01