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Leinster Rugby 32 (6) - (3) 6 Ulster Rugby
RDS Showground

Att: 15,940
Sunday, 22 March 2009, 17:30

In the latest of this season's inter-provincial matches Ulster were welcoming back their Grand Slam stars with the exception of the injured Stephen Ferris and Leinster only had Gordon D'Arcy as a returnee from the previous weekend's exploits. The pressure was on Leinster who had seen the gauntlet thrown down by Munster on the Friday. In securing the bonus point against Glasgow Munster had opened an 8 point lead and so it was imperative that Leinster win and if possible secure a bonus point.

The first forty minutes of play lacked intensity and gave little confidence to the watching faithful that a five point haul was in store with the sides exchanging three penalties. Contepomi stuck two for Leinster and Humphries one for Ulster. The three point margin encouraging Ulster and giving Michael Cheika a lot of work to do at half time.

Leinster had more potency after the break however and took complete control of the match with two tries in a five minute period. The first was scored by Fergus McFadden who crossed for his first Leinster try. The former Clongowes player finished after a superb break from Gordon D'Arcy destroyed the Ulster defence. The second came via another unusual name on the score sheet with Leo Cullen finishing from close in, his first Leinster try in seven years. The try will be a fillip for the Leinster captain in his latest attempt to shake off a shoulder injury that has dogged his season.

Leinster were in complete control of the match and the result was beyond any doubt, all that remained was the securing of a bonus point. On 68 minutes Leinster had their third. Jennings secured a great turnover and Stan Wright played scrum half to set the backs going. Nacewa scythed through the cover, passed the ball inside to Horgan, who looked outside and found the rampaging Rocky Elsom on the wing all alone and the powerful flanker ran over from ten metres.

Leinster received a blow when CJ van der Linde who had himself come on as a substitute for Stan Wright was forced to limp off with an apparent foot injury. Wright returning to take his place in the front row. The South African cut a disconsolate figure as he trudged from the RDS pitch and will now represent a doubt for Leinster's two crucial games against Munster and Harlequins.

Leinster had three tries and ten minutes to secure the bonus point. A raft of substitutes seemed to slow their progress however and as the clock ticked to eighty it seemed to be against Leinster. Ulster were defending desperately and gave away penalty after penalty. Knowing a kick at goal was pointless Leinster pressed. The lineout option was taken and Sexton's kick flew into touch as the stadium clock turned red. Again Leinster pressed and the Ulster defence tried to repel them both legally and illegally with Robbie Diack paying the price for the latest in his teams indiscretions with a yellow card.

On Leinster's latest assault on Ulster's line the referee blew his whistle and awarded a scrum for the attacking team. To the amazement of the watching crowd he did not blow for full time despite the stadium clock having ticked over 80 some minutes before. Some consultation between the referee and his line officials ensued with the referee confirming that time remained. Lo and behold from the ensuing scrum Simon Keogh streaked over under the posts to confirm the bonus point, deep into injury time.

The try was greeted with delight both on and off the pitch and on the balance of Leinster's second half it was probably a deserved if very belated bonus point. Leinster recorded a comfortable win but the euphoria of the late try securing the bonus will stand to them leading up to the match against Munster in Thomond. The clash of the top two in Limerick is bound to be an enthralling encounter and will go a long way towards deciding the destination of this years league title.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Ulster Rugby
Tries  McFadden
Simon Keogh
Conversions Contepomi (3)
Penalties Contepomi (2)   Humphreys
Sin Bin     Diack (79)
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Schifcofske
Shane Horgan 14 Andrew Trimble
Fergus McFadden 13 Darren Cave
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Paddy Wallace
Isa Nacewa 11 Simon Danielli
Felipe Contepomi 10 Ian Humphreys
Chris Whitaker 9 Isaac Boss

Cian Healy 1 Tom Court
Bernard Jackman 2 Rory Best (C)
Stan Wright 3 BJ Botha
Leo Cullen (C) 4 Ed O'Donahue
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Ryan Caldwell
Cameron Jowitt 6 Matt McCullough
Shane Jennings 7 David Pollock
Rockie Elsom 8 Chris Henry

Replacements John Fogarty 16 Nigel Brady (for Best)
CJ van der Linde (for Wright, 50)
replaced by Wright, 58
17 Bryan Young (for Botha)
Trevor Hogan (for O'Kelly, 61) 18 Carlo del Fava (for Caldwell)
Sean O'Brien (for Jowitt, 50) 19 Robbie Diack (for Henry)
Devin Toner (for Jennings, 72) 20 Cillian Willis (for Boss)
Jonny Sexton (for McFadden, 50)
21 Ian Whitton (for Humphries)
Simon Keogh (for D'Arcy, 71) 22 Timosi Nagusa (for Cave)

Officials Referee: Carlo Damasco (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (IRFU), Daragh McCormack (IRFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Official: Barry O'Keeffe (ARLB)
TMO: Bertie Smith (IRFU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2009-03-31