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Gloucester (7) 19 - 13 (7) Leinster,
Kingsholm, Gloucester,
Att: 12,500,
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU),
Friday 19th January 2007, 19:30

Having secured a quarter final berth Leinster travelled to the West of England to take on Gloucester, hoping to secure a home quarter final draw. Leinster had beaten their Premiership counterparts in round one and despite having little to play for Gloucester were keen to gain revenge.

Gloucester sought to take advantage of the wind in the first half and had an early scoring chance with a penalty, but in terrible conditions Willie Walker hit the post with his effort. Brian O'Driscoll, returning to the Leinster team after a calf strain was soon back on the sidelines. Referee Nigel Owens adjudged that the Leinster captain had handled in the ruck and sent O'Driscoll for ten minutes in the sin bin. Leinster were spending most of their time defending on their own line, and after 21 minutes the referee awarded a penalty try after collapsing a maul.

Leinster responded and Felipe Contepomi looked as if he had scored for Leinster, but after consulting the television match official he was judged to have knocked the ball on. This was to signal the start of a night of frustration for Leinster regarding the decisions of the TMO.

Gloucester were reduced to 14 men after half an hour when Peter Richards was yellow carded for dissent. Just as Gloucester had done, Leinster took advantage of the numerical advantage to score seven points. Stephen Keogh broke from the half way line to feed Jamie Heaslip just short of the try line, O'Driscoll gathered up the lay off to cross under the posts. Contepomi converted the additional points to level the scores. Leinster lost Shane Horgan to a knee injury just before half time, and the teams went in level at the break.

Leinster started the second half with whatever benefit there was to be gleaned from the wind. Rob Kearney, on as a sub for Shane Horgan, appeared to have scored for Leinster, but the try was disallowed with Jamie Heaslip adjudged to have been obstructing the Gloucester defence. Leinster were dominating possession and territory early in the second half and when Contepomi struck a penalty to give Leinster a narrow advantage it looked as if the momentum had swung the way of the visitors.

Leinster had an opportunity to extend their lead on 60 minutes when they were awarded a penalty in Gloucester's 22 but decided to kick for touch. Gloucester defended the maul expertly and cleared their lines and less than 5 minutes later had scored a try themselves. Christian Califano was the man to touch down following a Gloucester rolling maul.

Gloucester sealed the game with five minutes to go, after Mark Foster chased his own chip to touch down. The referee consulted with the television match official for a lengthy period and he finally ruled that there was downward pressure before the ball slipped out of Foster's hand.

There was just about time for Contepomi to score a penalty goal to claim Leinster a losing bonus point, but that like the performance was not enough to secure a home leg in the quarter final.

Heineken Cup Man of the Match: Marco Bortolami
leinsterfans.com Man of the Match: Jamie Heaslip

Match Stats
  Gloucester Leinster
Tries Penalty, - 19
Califano, - 65
Foster - 77
O'Driscoll - 33
Conversions Walker
Penalties   Contepomi (2)
Teams I Balshaw; J Bailey, J Adams, M Tindall, M Foster; W Walker, P Richards; N Wood, M Davies, C Nieto; M Bortolami (capt), A Brown, P Buxton, A Hazell, A Balding. Dempsey; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, D Hickie; F Contepomi, C Whitaker; S Wright, B Jackman, W Green; T Hogan, M O'Kelly; S Keogh, K Gleeson, J Heaslip.
Replacements Lawson for Walker (41), James for Brown (53), Azam for Davies (57), Califano for Wood (57), Boer for Hazell (66), Lawson for Richards (71), Keil for Tindall (75). Kearney for Horgan (40), Finegan for O'Kelly (49), Blaney for Jackman (57), Corrigan for Wright (61).
Sin-Bin Richards (24) O'Driscoll (14))

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-01-19