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Leinster Rugby (7) 19 - 13 (6) Ospreys
Royal Dublin Showground
Friday, 19 September 2008, 19:35

Leinster faced the Ospreys in an early season form test, and they passed, just! It was a night for defences and only two individual moments of brilliance from the left wingers broke the pattern. Yet for all that, Leinster got the win and maintained their early season momentum.

It was a cagey start and Leinster had a couple of decent spells in the Ospreys twenty two but couldn't create a score from it. The Ospreys looked to have a try when Lee Byrne broke clean through but Girvan Dempsey pulled off a superb try saving tackle. After a series of rucks, James Hook eventually settled for the drop goal to register the first score of the night. Leinster had the chance to respond straight away but Felipe Contepomi put his penalty kick well wide.

Contepomi made up for it though a minute later. After Nacewa gathered his own up and under, Brian O'Driscoll spun the ball out to Contepomi who passed inside to Luke Fitzgerald. Luke passed it back and once again Contepomi passed it back inside for Luke to skate through under the posts for a try. It was a wonderful moment of invention from the old master and the young pretender and Contepomi dully converted for a 7-3 Leinster lead.

The Ospreys dominated possession for the rest of the half and had the Leinster scrum under serious pressure. Hook kicked a penalty on the 27th minute to make the half time score 7-6 to Leinster. It could have been worse though as Hook missed another penalty just on half-time.

Leinster were under pressure again in the second half and Shane Horgan had to scramble back superbly to deny James Hook a try. The game turned with the introduction of Shane Jennings and Malcolm O'Kelly from the bench though. The pack responded immediately and upped it's tempo. After great work at the ruck from Jennings, Contepomi kicked a penalty to make it 10-6. There followed a period of sustained pressure from the Ospreys but the Leinster defence held and when they got back into the Ospreys half Contepomi kicked another penalty to make it 13-6.

Leinster were now well on top and Cian Healy looked to have scored a try but the video ref ruled it was knocked on. However Isa Nacewa kicked two drop goals to seal the win. The team started celebrating too early though and with the last play of the game, Nikki Walker ran the length of the pitch to score a try, which Hook converted to make the final score 19-13 to Leinster. Leinster will be annoyed that they let the Ospreys in for a bonus point, however they'll still be happy with the four points for the win against a fine team.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Tries Fitzgerald
Conversions Contepomi
Penalties Contepomi (2)
Drop-Goals Nacewa (2)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Lee Byrne
Shane Horgan
14 Tommy Bowe
Brian O'Driscoll 13 David Bishop
Felipe Contepomi 12 Andrew Bishop
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Nikki Walker
Isa Nacewa
10 James Hook
Chris Whitaker
9 Rhys Webb

Ronan McCormack
1 Duncan Jones
Bernard Jackman 2 Huw Bennett
Stan Wright 3 Adam Jones
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Alun-wyn Jones
Devin Toner
5 Ian Evans
Cameron Jowitt
6 Jonathan Thomas
Sean O'Brien
7 Steve Tandy
Jamie Heaslip 8 Ryan Jones (C)

Replacements Cian Healy (for McCormack, 55)
16 Ed Shervington (for Bennett, 68)
John Fogarty (for Jackman, 76)
17 Paul James (for Adam Jones, 56)
Malcolm O'Kelly (for Toner, 46)
18 Ian Gough (for Alun-wyn Jones, 61)
Stephen Keogh (for Jowitt, 62)
19 Filo Tiatia (for Tandy, 56)
Shane Jennings (for O'Brien, 46)
20 Rhodri Wells (for Webb, 56)
Chris Keane 21 Daniel Biggar (for D. Bishop, 71)
Rob Kearney (for Horgan, 62)
22 Johnny Vaughton

Not considered
due to injury
Gordon D'Arcy (arm)
Jonny Sexton (neck)
Trevor Hogan (back)

Officials Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (IRFU), Darragh McCormack (IRFU)
TMO: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
4th Official: Brian Montayne (ARLB)
5th Official: Gordon Murray (ARLB)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2008-09-21