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Leinster (10) 44 - 34 (15) Llanelli Scarlets,
Donnybrook, Dublin,
Att: 5,890,
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (SRFU),
Friday 26th January 2007, 19:40

Both teams turned up for this Magners League clash shorn of their International players. Nevertheless the tie was crucial to both sides aspirations of lifting the title, a win for Leinster would see them go top of the league while defeat for Scarlets would all but rule out their chances.

Scarlets started by far the brighter and when full back Morgan Stoddart crashed over following a flowing move, Leinster found themselves trailing by ten, a Ceiron Thomas penalty had given Scarlets an early advantage.

Leinster struck back when Heaslip gathered in a lineout, and Leinster rolled the maul almost over the Scarlets try line. The forwards took the ball on the extra yards and Jamie Heaslip was there to finish the move and get Leinster back into the game. Contepomi struck the conversion, and was impeccable with the boot all evening.

Having gotten themselves back into the match, Leinster conspired to throw it away again, and Scarlets crossed the line for a second try, Regan King finishing off and Thomas converting. It could have been worse, but Thomas missed a penalty from 30 yards, and Contepomi added a penalty of his own, to see Leinster trail 15-10 at the interval.

Leinster knew that without an improvement in performance a defeat was on the cards, but it was Scarlets who started the second period with purpose. Good passing play through the midfield saw scrum half Stuart-Smith over for another five.

Leinster made some changes and the reshuffle saw them wake from their slumber, a Contepomi penalty was followed by a try for Gary Brown. Regan King dropped the ball in midfield , and possession was snaffled by Heaslip. Hooker Bernard Jackman and Stephen Keogh exchanged passes on the wing and when Brown received the ball he had the simple task of crossing the whitewash. Contepomi's conversion levelled the sides.

Leinster produced three more tries in an incredible period of rugby, firstly Contepomi gathered the ball in the full back position and streaked up the pitch to the Scarlet's 22. The recycled ball was spread to Lewis and he evaded the attentions of four covering players to score. Stephen Keogh was next to add points, and secure a bonus point. Keogh juggled a pass in midfield, and was on hand to receive the ball back following several phases of Leinster possession. Leinster's fifth was scored by Jamie Heaslip, the second of the night for the number 8. Mick Berne took the ball on well, and Chris Whitaker unselfishly offloading to Heaslip to go over the line, and conclude a frenetic fifteen minutes.

With a 44-20 lead Leinster look home and dry, but Scarlets managed to conjure two more tries of their own, leaving the try count at five a piece, and securing a bonus point for the visitors. The boot of Felipe Contepomi proved the difference between the teams, and Leinster will be unhappy with the manner in which they started the game and the lapse of concentration in allowing Scarlets in for a bonus. Nevertheless, with five points secured and Ulster's loss to Ospreys on Saturday, Leinster go into the International break at the summit of the Magner's League and in a strong position for the remainder of the season.

Magners Man of the Match: Felipe Contepomi
leinsterfans.com Man of the Match: Bernard Jackman

Match Stats
  Leinster Llanelli Scarlets
Tries Heaslip (2)
Stoddart King Stuart-Smith James Davies
Conversions Contepomi (5) Thomas
Davies (2)
Penalties Contepomi (3) Thomas
Teams Ross McCarron; Gray Brown; Kieran Lewis; Michael Berne; Luke Fitzgerald; Felipe Contepomi(capt); Guy Easterby; Stanley Wright; Bernard Jackman; Will Green; Trevor Hogan; Cameron Jowitt; Stephen Keogh; Keith Gleeson; Jamie Heaslip. Morgan Stoddart; Dafydd James, Regan King, Matthew Watkins, Darren Daniel; Ceiron Thomas, Clive Stuart-Smith; Iestyn Thomas, Ken Owens Craig Dunlea; Vernon Cooper, Scott MacLeod; Dafydd Jones, James Bater (capt), Nathan Thomas.
Replacements O Finegan for Cameron Jowitt (45); C Warner for L Fitzgerald (56); C Whitaker for G Easterby (66); S Wright for R Corrigan (70); (B Blaney for B Jackman (70); D Toner for T Hogan (77). B Davies for M Stoddart (51); G Evans for C Thomas (62); A Gravelle for K Owens (51); I Afeaki for N Thomas (66).

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-01-26