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Leinster Rugby (6) 29 - 9 (9) Connacht Rugby
Royal Dublin Showgrounds, Dublin
Friday, 02 November 2007, 19:30

Two late tries from Gordon D'Arcy gave Leinster a twenty point win over Connacht last Friday night.  However it was certainly not the comprehensive win the scoreline would suggest.  The abrasive Connacht pack made life very difficult for Leinster, with openside Johnny O'Connor causing havoc at the breakdown.  Referee Peter Fitzgibbon ruled the offside line very loosely and Connacht took full advantage.  After an early miss their Australian out-half Tim Donnelly kicked a penalty to give Connacht the lead.

Leinster nearly hit straight back when Luke Fitzgerald gathered a loose restart.  The ball was put through the hands and D'Arcy looked to have grounded the ball.  After initially half raising his hand to signal the try, referee Fitzgibbon then decided to check with the Television Match Official if it was grounded, despite the fact that he had a perfect view of the incident.  In fairness to the TMO, the camera angles were limited, mainly because Fitzgibbon was blocking the view.  After a farcically long wait, the TMO decided he couldn't see well enough to give the try.  It was a feature of the World Cup that referees used the TMO too often, but this incident took the biscuit.  If a referee can't decide on a grounding when the ball is practically at his feet, then he shouldn't be officiating at this level.

In any case Jamie Heaslip was held up from the resulting scrum and Connacht managed to escape.  Shorty afterwards they conceded a penalty in front of the posts and Christian Warner kicked it to level the score at 3-all.  Leinster weren't helping themselves with overly lateral running and sloppiness at the breakdown and Donnelly took advantage with another penalty to restore their lead.  Another Warner penalty levelled the score once again before a smartly taken drop from Donnelly gave Connacht a deserved 9-6 half-time lead.

No doubt chastened by Michael Chieka's coach words at half-time, Leinster emerged with more purpose in the second half.  Three more Warner penalties made the score 15-9 to Leinster but the game will still in the balance with ten minutes to go.  Then a moment of brilliance from Luke Fitzgerald settled the match.  Fielding a kick inside his own twenty-two he dummied to kick, before stepping inside the chasing line to race thirty metres.  He offloaded to the supporting Heaslip who put D'Arcy in for the try.  Warner converted and the game was won.  There was still time for D'Arcy to score a superb individual try, skipping down the touchline before standing up Gavin Duffy.  Warner converted from the touchline to complete a superb night with the boot with seven from seven attempts.

The two D'Arcy tries gave the final score a nice sheen, but Leinster fans were less impressed with the overall display.  They will need to lift the performance for this Saturday's match Heineken Cup opener against Leicester.

Match Statistics
  Leinster Rugby   Connacht Rugby
Tries D'Arcy (2)    
Conversions Warner (2)    
Penalties Warner (5)   Donnelly (2)
Drop-goals     Donnelly
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Gavin Duffy
Shane Horgan 14 Ofisa Treviranus
Brian O'Driscoll (C) 13 Mel Deane
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Aidan Wynne
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Keith Matthews
Christian Warner 10 Tim Donnelly
Chris Whitaker 9 Conor McPhilips
Ollie Le Roux 1 Brett Wilkinson
Bernard Jackman 2 John Fogarty
Stan Wright 3 Robbie Morris
Leo Cullen 4 Dave Gannon
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Andrew Farley (C)
Stephen Keogh 6 Mike McCarthey
Keith Gleeson 7 Johnny O'Connor
Jamie Heaslip 8 John Muldoon
Replacements Brian Blaney (for Jackman, 72) 16 Adrian Flavin (for Fogarty, 49)
Juan Francisco Gomez (for Wright, 72) 17 Brian McGovern
Cameron Jowitt (for O'Kelly, 75) 18 Michael Swift (for Gannon, 49)
Shane Jennings (for Gleeson, 59) 19 Ray Ofisa Treviranus (for McCarthey, 58)
Cillian Willis (for Whitaker, 79) 20 Conor O'Loughlin (for McPhilips, 12-31 & 63)
Jonathan Sexton (for D'Arcy, 79) 21 Peter Durcan
Rob Kearney (for O'Driscoll, 75) 22 Darren Yapp (for Wynne, 17-30 & 41)
Not Considered due to Injury Trevor Hogan
Stephen Knoop
Ronnie McCormack
Fergus McFadden
Officials Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)
Sub Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Touch Judge: M Black (IRFU)
TMO: David Keane (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2007-11-07