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Leinster Rugby (10) 29 - 13 (13) Newport Gwent Dragons
RDS Showground
Att: 15,240
Saturday, 29th November 2008, 17:30

The last time Leinster played Dragons at the RDS it was to clinch the Magners League title. On this occasion however staying in contention for this years trophy was very much on the mind of the home team. Three league defeats and Munster's current form meant there was no room for error.

The Leinster lineup was shorn of a number of internationals and injured players and featured a number of 'A' players who would be looking to make a big impression. In particular, it was a big night for Jonathan Sexton, with Contepomi and Nacewa doubtful for the upcoming double header with Castres and the highly experienced David Holwell looking on from the bench, the onus was on him to prove he merited the number 10 for those crucial qualifiers.

In truth he had a mixed night, missing an opportunity to demonstrate his place kicking with a penalty when the Dragons had taken a 6-0 lead with McFadden taking the kick. Very shortly afterwards he saw his pass intercepted for Dragons to score a try through Hoani MacDonald.

To his and Leinster's credit however, there was no panic. A dent in Dragon's ten point lead was almost immediately made. The impressive Sean O'Brien demonstrated his direct running and strength as he powered over the line. Leinster couldn't make any further inroads despite the Welsh side being reduced to fourteen and they went into the break trailing by three points.

Shortly into the second half though they were given an opportunity to level the scores and Sexton obliged with a penalty and  shortly after Bernard Jackman crashed over to give Leinster the lead for the first time.

If Leinster supporters expected that to signal the opening of the floodgates, then they were to be disappointed. Although the home team were dominating territory, Dragons did muster somewhat of a fight with a penalty crashing back off the bar and a couple of surging runs exposing poor Leinster tackling.

Eventually Leinster put the result beyond doubt with Holwell striking a penalty on his return and in stoppage time after Girvan Dempsey had made good ground Elsom crashed over to put a gloss on the scoreline and flattered Leinster somewhat.

An important result that keeps Leinster in with a shout of the league this season but with the sight of Brian O'Driscoll coming off ten minutes from time the Leinster casualty list grows. December is a pivotal month for Leinster with two Heineken cup and two interprovincial games in the offing, and these games will materially effect how the rest of the season pans out.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Newport Gwent Dragons
Tries O'Brien
Conversions Sexton   Arlidge
Penalties Sexton
McFadden (2)
  Arlidge (2)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Phillip Dollman
Shane Horgan
14 Gareth Wyatt
Brian O'Driscoll 13 Rory Sidey
Fergus McFadden
12 Marc Stcherbina
Simon Keogh
11 Richard Fussell
Jonathan Sexton
10 James Arlidge
Chris Whitaker (C)
9 Wayne Evans

Cian Healy
1 Adam Black
Bernard Jackman 2 Tom Willis (C)
Stan Wright 3 Gethin Robinson
Devin Toner
4 Hoani Macdonald
Malcolm O'Kelly
5 Andrew Hall
Rocky Elsom
6 Joe Bearman
Sean O'Brien
7 Lewis Evans
Stephen Keogh
8 Grant Webb

Replacements Brian Blaney
16 Steve Jones (for Willis, 75)
Jamie Hagan
17 Jamie Corsi (for Robinson, 75)
Trevor Hogan (for Toner, 70) 18 Jamie Ringer (for Webb, 47)
Cameron Jowitt (for Stephen Keogh, 62) 19 Danny Lydiate (for Hall, 28)
Chris Keane (for Whitaker, 62)
20 Ashley Smith
David Holwell (for Sexton, 65)
21 Shaun Connor (for Arlidge, 61)
Gary Brown (for O'Driscoll, 70)
22 Rob Lewis

Not considered
due to injury
Felipe Contepomi (hand)
Leo Cullen
Gordon D'Arcy (arm)
Shane Jennings
Isa Nacewa (arm)


Referee: Andy Macpherson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Michael Black (IRFU), Richard Kerr (IRFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Official: Danny Wallace (ARLB)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (IRFU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2008-12-02