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Leinster Rugby (6) 36 - 13 (13) Glasgow Warriors
RDS Showground

Att: 10,900
Saturday 25th April 2009

In their previous Magners League match Leinster fielded an almost unrecognisable team, however versus the Warriors Michael Cheika fielded a team that could make up the bulk of the team to face Munster next weekend. Of the likely candidates Rob Kearney was missing through illness and Leo Cullen was benched in order to give Devin Toner a run out. While the league was all but gone, Leinster do have a very sound home record to keep up and were looking for some continuity going into the crunch game in Croke Park.

There was a slightly surreal atmosphere at the RDS where a relatively small crowd gathered to watch Leinster. It is unusual for Magners league matches to effectively have no worth for Leinster, having been in the mix for the last few seasons and there was definitely a sense of an eye on next week both on and off the pitch. 

Glasgow were keen to express themselves however and the match was punctuated with tough challenges and it was the Scottish side that had the first opportunity of note. Jackson had a relatively straightforward kick to open the scoring but saw the ball slide wide, the beginning of a pretty awful day with the boot for the out half.

Contepomi looked like he was going to follow suit with some pretty abject kicking of his own. From his first four kicks the Argentine skewed three wide. He did however manage one of those attempts to give Leinster the lead. But it was Glasgow's physicality that gave them the levelling score.  They won a penalty from the referee James Jones in Leinster territory when Leinster didn't release. This time Jackson found his target.

Glasgow opened the try scoring with Kelly Brown outpacing the Leinster defenders from a Max Brown through kick. The try was utterly simple and would have worried the Leinster defence coaches. Jackson was unable to add the extras.

Leinster responded well and levelled the scoring through Rocky Elsom. Elsom piled over from a few metres and can be utterly unstoppable from that range. Contepomi continued his poor kicking with a missed conversion.

Glasgow's second try was again the product of pace. Fa'atau pounced on a loose ball and fly hacked the ball through. The winger chased the kick himself and gathered to touch down and give Glasgow the lead again. The lead stayed at five however as again Jackson missed the extras.

Leinster seemed keen to turn the pressure up and kept the ball in hand looking for gaps and space to exploit. One such gap did appear for Gordon D'Arcy and with the line at his mercy, he incredibly dropped the ball and the opportunity was gone.

Before half time Leinster rung the changes with Leo Cullen replacing Mal O'Kelly, who did not appear injured. Perhaps a nod to next week? The home side went into the half time break knowing that the basics had not been done well and that the intensity levels would need to be ratcheted up in order to beat a dogged Glasgow team.

Leinster did up the tempo in the second half aided by substitutions in the pack and the backs. It did take until the last quarter however and in fact it was these substitutes that turned the game with three of them on the scoresheet. First it was Shane Horgan who crossed over following good work by Sexton at outhalf. Next Sean O'Brien scored following a neat combination between Brian O'Driscoll and Girvan Dempsey.

Leinster had three tries and need one more to seal a confidence boosting bonus point and it was the impressive Sexton who clinched it from close range after being fed by Chris Whitaker and Sean O'Brien scored his second close to the death to give the scoreline a flattering hue.

While Glasgow could never be accused of having the pedigree of Munster they did offer a resilient and tough opposition. Cian Healy left the field looking a little battered and Whitaker and Elsom left the field bloodied. There were a number of large hits both legal and illegal as Glasgow's three sinbinnings will testify to. Leinster too were yellowed with Heaslip binned for a skirmish with Brown. The Leinster 8 was extremely wound up throughout the match and his physicality was generally well directed and effective culminating in his man of the match award.

There are a number of concerning areas ahead of next week with the restart in particular causing major concern. However there was a healthy amount of competition on show with those sprung from the bench making a large impact in particular Sexton and O'Brien. A lot to work on before last week but the manner in which this match ended will hopefully stand to the boys going into the crucial showdown in Croke Park.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Glasgow Warriors
Tries  Elsom
O'Brien (2)
Conversions Contepomi (4)
Penalties Contepomi   Jackson
Sinbin  Heaslip   Stortoni
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Bernard Stortoni
Isa Nacewa 14 Lome Fa'Atau
Brian O'Driscoll
13 Max Evans
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Graeme Morrison
Luke Fitzgerald
11 Thom Evans
Felipe Contepomi 10 Ruaridh Jackson
Chris Whitaker 9 Mark McMillan

Cian Healy 1 Kevin Tkachuk
Bernard Jackman 2 Dougie Hall
Stan Wright 3 Moray Low
Devin Toner
4 Tim Barker
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Alastair Kellock (C)
Rockie Elsom
6 Calum Forrester
Shane Jennings 7 John Barclay
Jamie Heaslip 8 Kelly Brown

Replacements John Fogarty (for Jackman, 74)
16 Fergus Thomson (for Hall, 9)
Ronnie McCormack (for Healy, 60)
17 Justin Va'a (for Tkachuk, 64)
Leo Cullen (for O'Kelly, 36)
18 Richie Gray
Sean O'Brien (for Jennings, 60)
19 James Eddie
Chris Keane (for Whitaker, 74)
20 Colin Gregor
Jonny Sexton (for D'Arcy, 60)
21 Andrew Henderson
Shane Horgan (for Nacewa, 46) 22 Hefin O'Hare (for Fa'atau, 70)

Officials Referee: James Jones (WRU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2009-04-28