10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The wet conditions did not deter a committed, determined Leinster side, who won out on a score line of 29 - 23 at Donnybrook. The game opened at a frantic pace with both sides wanting to stamp their authority on the game. Brian O Meara opened the scoring with a penalty after three minutes. Felipe Contepomi answered with a penalty three minutes later making it 3-3.
A period of sustained pressure by Leinster forced Bristol to concede a penalty, and saw the first of the Bristol players, Alex Brown, to be shown a yellow card. O Meara put over the penalty bringing the score to 6-3. Contepomi and O Meara swapped scores leaving it at 9-6 after 25 minutes.
Denis Hickey made a searing run through the Bristol defence but was intercepted by David Reed. He was not to be denied five minutes later and went over for the first try of the game. O Meara converted giving Leinster a ten point lead, 16-6. A period of fast play before the half time whistle saw Leinster threaten the Bristol line. Bristol defended well, but O Meara put over another penalty, giving Leinster a comfortable cushion of 19-6 at half time.
Bristol were the first to notch up a score in the second half, with a penalty from Contepomi. Leinster rose to the challenge with Victor Costello, man of the match, going over for Leinster's second try. O Meara converted, Leinster 26, Bristol 9. Leinster dominated the game for the following fifteen minutes. Emmet Byrne replaced Paul Wallace after sixteen minutes while Des Dillon came in for Aidan McCullen. Leinster made one more change, with Brian O Meara making way for Brian O Riordan.
Daryl Gibson broke through the Leinster defence and went over the line, with ten minutes left to play. Contepomi converted, cutting into the Leinster lead. The frustration at Leinster's overall dominance became evident with Bristol's Paul Johnstone being shown a yellow card before a Leinster penalty was brought forward 10 yards for dissent. Gordon Darcy stepped in to take the kick and put it over lengthening Leinster's lead to 29-16.
It all seemed to be over but an exciting closing three minutes say Contepomi go over under the posts, with Bristol at only fourteen men. He then converted, leaving only six points between the teams. However, the last gasp effort had no real impact on the score, with Leinster emerging convincing victors on a scoreline of 29-23. Their campaign
has gotten off to a promising start.