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Leinster (17) 45 - 22 (8) Ospreys
Donnybrook, Dublin
Att: 6,000
Referee: Malcolm Clangleng (SRU)
Saturday, 06th January 2007, 19:30

Focus switched to the traditional hub of Leinster rugby, Donnybrook for this Magners League clash between Leinster and Ospreys. A recent good run had seen Ospreys climb the table to third and Leinster knew that a win could not only close the gap on leaders Ulster but also put daylight between them and the chasing pack.

Leinster made a couple of changes for the match, Felipe Contepomi was in for Jonathan Sexton and Stanley Wright replaced Ronan McCormack who was out with a stinger injury, Girvan Dempsey and Luke Fitzgerald were both still missing through injury. Ospreys however rang the changes following a hectic festive period that brought 4 games in two weeks, and it was an unfamiliar team that took the field.

Despite the many new faces Ospreys started brightly and it was they who opened the scoring with a Shaun Connor penalty, and after Contepomi levelled, Brent Cockbain scored a try for Ospreys to give the Welsh side an 8-3 advantage within the first ten minutes.

Leinster rallied however and when an Ospreys clearing kick was collected by Kieran Lewis, he fed Rob Kearney on the half way line and the UCD man went on a mazy run through the despairing tackles of four Osprey players to score an excellent try. Contepomi converted for an extra two points to give Leinster a narrow lead. Ten minutes later Leinster extended their lead. A fine burst from Gordon D'Arcy tore a hole in the Osprey's defence and O'Driscoll was on his shoulder for an offload to cruise home for a try under the posts, which again Contepomi converted for a 17-8 lead that Leinster took into the interval.

Leinster came out of the blocks quickly in the second half with three tries inside the first fifteen minutes. The first of these was scored by Denis Hickie following good work by D'Arcy who fed Kearney to put Hickie in for his sixth try of the season. Rob Kearney went in for his second try following a flowing move across the pitch involving Contepomi, Hickie and O'Driscoll leaving Kearney to avoid the attentions of Connor to ensure a bonus point. The lead was further extended by a second for O'Driscoll. Once again Gordon D'Arcy fed his midfield partner, and O'Driscoll's powerful run eluded the Ospreys defence and the Leinster captain scored under the posts.

With a thirty point advantage the win seemed to be secured, but Leinster made a series of changes in personnel and seemed to take their foot of the pedal allowing Ospreys to fight back with two converted tries from Stefan Terblanche and Richie Pugh. Leinster still held a sixteen point advantage but with the momentum in Ospreys favour it seemed a try scoring bonus point was on the cards. However it was Leinster who finished the scoring with Keith Gleeson adding Leinster's sixth at the death, following an excellent run by substitute Ross McCarron.

The focus switches to the Heineken Cup for the next fortnight and Leinster will know that they cannot afford to let the levels drop as they did in this match. Leinster will be encouraged by the win however albeit against an unfamiliar Ospreys, and the win with the bonus point means that the gap to Ulster at the top is cut to two points and Leinster can go into the match versus Edinburgh in a confident manner.

Sarah Lennon, © 2007
Match Stats
  Leinster Ospreys
Tries Kearney - 19, 51
O'Driscoll - 30, 55
Hickie - 46
Gleeson - 79
Cockbain - 11
Terblanche - 65
Pugh - 71
Cons Contepomi (5) Connor (2)
Penalties Contepomi Connor
Teams R Kearney, K Lewis, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, D Hickie, F Contepomi, C Whitaker, S Wright, B Jackman, W Green, C Jowitt, M O'Kelly, S Keogh, K Gleeson, J Heaslip. Stefan Terblanche, Jonathan Vaughton, Tal Selley, Andrew Bishop, Richard Mustoe; Shaun Connor, Martin Roberts; Paul James (capt), Ed Shervington, Andrew Millward, Brent Cockbain, Michael Powell, Lee Beach, Richard Pugh, Andy Lloyd.
Replacements T Hogan for Keogh (29 mins); H Vermaas for Jackman 36-40(+5) mins; R Corrigan for Wright, G Easterby for Whitaker (both 47 mins); O Finegan for Hogan (48 mins); R McCarron for O'Driscoll (59 mins); Vermaas for Jackman, J Sexton for Contepomi (both 66 mins). Walker for Vaughton (20 mins); J Spice for Roberts, B Williams for Shirvington, A Jones for Millward (all 56 mins); J Hook for Walker (66 mins); C Martenko for Cockbain, B Lewis for Pugh (73 mins).
Sin-Bin   A. Lloyd 45-55 mins

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-01-06