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Neath Swansea Ospreys 19 (12) - (17) 26 Leinster Rugby
Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Friday, 23rd November 2007, 19:10

Leinster were on the road again, this time South Wales and the Magners League were the settings. Wales hasn't been the happiest hunting ground in recent years for Leinster but having already won in Cardiff this season, Leinster were hoping to make it two from two in the Principality.

The early exchanges saw 3 quick penalties. Shaun Connor gave Ospreys the lead with a straightforward penalty after Gomez brought down scrum . From the restart Ospreys infringed and a long Contepomi effort sneaked over. It was then Leinsters turn to infringe at the restart, Blaney holding on and Connor again made no mistake.

Ospreys had the first try scoring opportunity after 12 minutes. Felipe Contepomi mishandled and Aled  Brew chipped on but the line won the race and Leinster could breathe a sigh of relief.

The ensuing series of play between the teams can be best described as a sequence of aimless kicks with neither side able to find touch or pressurise defenders. It was one of these kicks that sparked an opening.  A rather speculative and ill executed garryowen by Brian O'Driscoll was pursued by Rob Kearney and he collected the high ball superbly. A pass to Gomez allowed the prop to show off his surprisingly deft hands and a Contepomi dummy created the space for  Shane Horgan  to do what he does best and thunder over for a try. Contepomi added an excellent two points from the touchline.

Ospreys were back to within a point just before the half hour after Connor struck another penalty. Almost immediately Leinster stretched their advantage with the best move of the match. Willis found Sexton off the base of a scrum, who passed to Contepomi. The Argentine popped a flat pass to Brian O'Driscoll who burst through the Osprey defence. The Leinster captain drew the defender and sent in Rob Kearney through for a fully deserved try. Again Contepomi converted a difficult two points.

Leinster were looking to protect an 8 point lead into half time, but Connor reduced the arrears shortly before half time knocking over a drop goal.

Cian Healy was introduced at half time for Gomez and very nearly made an instant impact. Kearney made a wonderful jinking run and offloaded to Fitzgerald who was slowed but not stopped. The support arrived and  mauled the ball on Cian Healy was in possession going over the line but the referee decided not to award a try instead referring the decision to the TMO. Who in turn decided the images were inconclusive and did not award a try. Nevertheless Leinster had an attacking 5 metre scrum, but possession and a player was lost after Keith Gleeson inexplicably lashed out and was sent for ten minutes on the sideline. He did not return, Jennings assumed his role after the ten.

Ospreys made their numerical advantage count, albeit with a baffling intervention from the referee.

An extended period of pressure saw Gareth Owen bundle over and the referee was quick to award a try. Brian O'Driscoll was furious and television replays proved why. The Leinster skipper had a full  hand under the whole of the ball and despite being in full view of the ball being held up the referee ad awarded the score. It is staggering  why  the TMO was not consulted but in truth the refs view was unobstructed and the refereeing standards of this league are again questionable. Connor converted to give the Ospreys a lead for the first time since the opening quarter.

Shortly before the hour Contepomi converted a 45 yard kick to again give Leinster the lead, and after 64 minutes constant offsides by Ospreys were finally punished by the referee and again Contepomi was impeccable. The lead was a narrow one but on 75 Contepomi had the chance to extend it to 7 after a big hit by O'Kelly brought a mistake from Vaughton who held on.  Contepomi duly obliged. Leinster were able to see out the rest of the match  sapping the energy of  Ospreys with rucking and mauling play. There was not enough impetus however in the visitors to get the score that would have denied Ospreys a bonus point. But a win in Wales even against a skeleton staff of an Ospreys side is a welcome occurrence.

Match Statistics
  Ospreys vs Leinster Rugby
Tries Owen   Horgan
Conversions Connor   Contepomi (2)
Penalties Connor (2)   Contepomi (4)
Drop Goals Connor    
Teams Gareth Owen 15 Rob Kearney
Nikki Walker 14 Shane Horgan
Mark Taylor 13 Brian O'Driscoll (C)
Andrew Bishop 12 Felipe Contepomi
Aled Brew 11 Luke Fitzgerald
Shaun Connor 10 Jonathan Sexton
Martin Roberts 9 Cillian Willis
Paul James 1 Stanley Wright
Richard Hibbard 2 Brian Blaney
Andrew Millward 3 Juan Francisco Gomez
Andy Lloyd 4 Leo Cullen
Lyndon Bateman 5 Devin Toner
Hale T-Pole 6 Cameron Jowitt
Marty Holah 7 Keith Gleeson
Filo Tiatia (C) 8 Kevin McLaughlin
Replacements Ed Shervington (for Hibbard, 74)
16 Bernard Jackman (for Blaney, 69)
Cai Griffiths
17 Cian Healy (for Gomez, 40)
Mike Powell (for Lloyd, 79)
18 Malcolm O'Kelly (for Toner, 63)
Tom Smith 19 Shane Jennings (for Gleeson, 60)
Rhodri Wells 20 Chris Keane (for Willis, 54)
Ashley Beck 21 Christian Warner (for Sexton, 80)
Jonathan Vaughton (for Owen, 63)
22 Gary Brown
Not Considered
due to Injury
    Gordon D'Arcy,
Girvan Dempsey,
Trevor Hogan,
Stephen Keogh,
Stephen Knoop,
Ronnie McCormack,
Fergus McFadden,
Chris Whitaker

Referee: Andy MacPherson (SRU),
Sub Referee: Tim Hayes (WRU),
Touch Judge: Matthew Al pin (WRU),
TMO: Tony Rowlands (WRU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-11-27