MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, March 24
LEINSTER 30 CONNACHT 21, Donnybrook (Att: 6,500)
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Bernard Jackman, Keith Gleeson, Shane Horgan; Cons: Felipe Contepomi 3; Pens: Contepomi 3
Connacht: Tries: Adrian Flavin, Paul Warwick; Con: Warwick; Pens: Warwick 3
Three tries and a 100% kicking return from stand-in captain Felipe Contepomi were enough for Michael Cheikaâ00s men to edge this provincial duel, after they had gone 16-3 behind.
Three Paul Warwick penalties and hooker Adrian Flavinâ00s maul-over try shot Connacht into a deserved 13-point lead but Leinsterâ00s greater strike power, which saw them score 17 points without reply in the second half, saw them take the spoils and move four points clear of Ulster in the standings.
Helped by the return of Girvan Dempsey, Gordon Dâ00Arcy, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie and Trevor Hogan from Six Nations duty, Leinster looked well placed to make a winning return to league action.
But Connacht, whose only win in Dublin since 1985 was at this very venue in 2002, paid little respect to the league leaders in a frantic first quarter.
The visitors were 13 points to the good after only 14 minutesâ00 play. Warwick landed his first two penalties and sandwiched in between was a peach of a try in the left corner from Flavin who touched down after a superb rolling maul.
Contepomi and Warwick then swapped penalties, the latterâ00s coming just after Leinster had their Cook Islands prop Stan Wright sin-binned for some overzealous rucking.
Just when they needed it, Leinster struck for their opening try when former Connacht favourite Bernard Jackman darted over after some neat interplay between Contepomi, Hickie and Gleeson.
Contepomi converted the try but Connacht still took a 21-10 lead into the break as they leaked a further try to Warwick before their Argentinian number 10 landed a late penalty.
Warwick showed excellent leg strength to shrug off two tacklers and scramble in behind the posts in the 35th-minute ahead of Jamie Heaslip.
Connacht flanker Matt Lacey saw yellow in injury-time and Leinster, despite some excellent defence from the westerners, took over in the second half.
The 14 men of Connacht managed to keep Leinster out before Laceyâ00s return, but Chris Whitaker and Contempomi combined to put Gleeson tearing over in the 53rd-minute for a well-worked try.
Taking a leaf out of Ronan Oâ00Garaâ00s book, Contepomi then delivered a cross-field kick out to the right for Horgan to gather, above two defenders, and swoop for Leinsterâ00s third try.
Contepomiâ00s conversion nosed the hosts into a 27-21 lead and his 67th-minute penalty took what would have been a deserved bonus point away from Connacht.
Heaslip was also robbed of an injury-time try when referee Peter Fitzgibbon ruled the effort out for a forward pass, but Leinster already had their sixth straight win over Connacht sewn up.
TIME LINE: 7 minutes â00 Connacht penalty: Paul Warwick â00 0-3; 9 mins â00 Connacht try: Adrian Flavin â00 0-8; conversion: Paul Warwick â00 0-10; 14 mins â00 Connacht penalty: Paul Warwick â00 0-13; 17 mins â00 Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi 3-13; 18 mins â00 Leinster sin-binning: Stan Wright; 20 mins â00 Connacht penalty: Paul Warwick â00 3-16; 28 mins â00 Leinster try: Bernard Jackman â00 8-16; conversion: Felipe Contepomi â00 10-16; 35 mins â00 Connacht try: Paul Warwick â00 10-21; conversion: missed by Paul Warwick â00 10-21; 39 mins â00 Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi â00 13-21; 40+2 mins â00 Connacht sin-binning: Matt Lacey; Half-time â00 Leinster 13 Connacht 21; 53 mins â00 Leinster try: Keith Gleeson â00 18-21; conversion: Felipe Contepomi â00 20-21; 63 mins â00 Leinster try: Shane Horgan â00 25-21; conversion: Felipe Contepomi â00 27-21; 67 mins â00 Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi â00 30-21; Full-time â00 Leinster 30 Connacht 21
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Kieran Lewis, Gordon Dâ00Arcy, Denis Hickie; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Chris Whitaker; Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm Oâ00Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Cameron Jowitt for Keogh (20-21 mins, blood sub), Fosi Palaâ00amo for Keogh (25-30), Owen Finegan for Oâ00Kelly (56), Brian Blaney for Jackman (56), Guy Easterby for Whitaker (67), Christian Warner for Contepomi (74). Not used: Rob Kearney.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Darren Yapp, Daniel Riordan, Gavin Williams, Conor McPhillips; Paul Warwick, Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Ray Hogan, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa, Colm Rigney.
Replacements used: Matt Lacey for Muldoon (33 mins), Michael Swift for Ofisa (57), Brett Sturgess for Hogan (63), John Fogarty for Flavin (65), David Slemen for Duffy, Mark McHugh for Williams (both 76). Not used: John Hearty.
Sin Bin: Wright (Leinster) (18), Lacey (Connacht) (40+2).
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)