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Leinster (5) 20 - 12 (12) Ulster,
Lansdowne Road, Dublin,
Att: 48,000,
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU),
Sunday, 31st December 2006, 14:00

An incredible 48,000 people packed into Lansdowne road for the last ever match to be played at the old stadium, smashing the Celtic League record. The "Last Stand" took a while to get started however, as match was played in conditions familiar to many of Lansdowne's patrons over the years, with a whipping wind and sheets of rain. Many players will have played their final game at Lansdowne Road and for one of those David Humphreys, the game finished prematurely as he retired with a shoulder injury after just 5 minutes had expired.

Humphreys' replacement Paddy Wallace opened the scoring however after 22 minutes, and he added two more to give Ulster a 9 point advantage. The crowd disagreed with some officiating in the build up to Ulster's third try and found their voice. This appeared to spur Leinster into action and it appeared that they had crossed the line for 5 points but Stephen Keogh spilled the ball after a good covering tackle by Andrew Trimble. Leinster did score just before half time when good work from Keogh and Horgan put in Denis Hickie for 5 points. Sexton was unlucky in his conversion attempt as he struck the post to leave the score 9-5. The scoring wasn't finished for the half however, as Wallace struck an excellent drip goal to leave Ulster in a 12-5 lead at the interval.

Leinster started the second half brightly and Sexton was presented with a brace of penalty attempts, succeeding with one. Denis Hickie was sin binned early in the second half after killing the ball following a mix up with Shane Horgan under a high ball, but it was Leinster who scored the next try with 14 men after some excellent work in the ruck from Keogh and O'Driscoll, Finegan used his huge frame to power over. Contepomi, on for Sexton, converted the extras.

Leinster left the best to last however and a flowing move involving Contepomi, O'Driscoll and finally Jackman put Jamie Heaslip in despite the attentions of Neil Best, for the honour of the last try scored at the old Lansdowne Road. Contepomi failed with the conversion however, but the eight point advantage was enough to seal the win and deny Ulster a bonus point, to close the gap at the top of the table to three points.

Match Stats
  Leinster Ulster
Tries Hickie - 40+1
Finegan - 64
Heaslip - 77
Cons Contepomi  
Penalties Sexton Wallace (3)
Drop-goals   Wallace
Teams Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Denis Hickie; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker; Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O'Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip. Mark Bartholomeusz; Tommy Bowe, Paul Steinmetz, Kevin Maggs, Andrew Trimble; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Kieron Dawson, Roger Wilson.
Replacements Reggie Corrigan for McCormack (29 mins), Owen Finegan for Hogan (51), Felipe Contepomi for Sexton (63), Kieran Lewis for Kearney (73), Guy Easterby for Whitaker (74), Harry Vermaas for Jackman (80). Paddy Wallace for Humphreys (6 mins), Justin Fitzpatrick for Young (66), Neil McMillan for Dawson (68), Paul McKenzie for Maggs (72), Kieran Campbell for Boss (77), Paul Shields for R Best, Tim Barker for Harrison (both 80).

by Sarah Lennon, © 2006-12-31