A 70th-minute penalty from the boot of Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy saw Leinster secure a 6-6 draw with champions Ulster in the Magners League on Saturday night.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, December 2
ULSTER 6 LEINSTER 6, Ravenhill (Att: 12,800)
Scorers: Ulster: Pens: David Humphreys 2
Leinster: Pen: Gordon D'Arcy: Drop: D'Arcy
D'Arcy held his nerve, taking over the kicking duties from the replaced Andy Dunne, to bag the visitors two league points at weather-beaten Ravenhill.
Five minutes earlier, Ulster's David Humphreys has landed his second penalty but neither side deserved to lose on a night of hard graft and few scoring opportunities.
With driving rain tumbling out of the Belfast sky, coupled with a howling wind, this was not a game for the purists, but credit to both provinces, they still served up some quality rugby for a capacity crowd.
The trying conditions prevent both back lines from giving a proper exhibition of their talents, and most of the heroics were performed up front where Leinster flanker Keith Gleeson took the plaudits for his ball-winning skills on the ground and a high tackle count.
When Humphreys pinged over for 6-3, Ulster looked primed to end a run of four games without a win against Leinster but Justin Harrison's late sin-binning left them clinging on for a share of the spoils.
Who knows what result would have been in the offing had Dunne, who stepped into the injured Felipe Contepomi's shoes at out-half, converted a penalty from in front of the Ulster posts early on.
The Old Belvedere clubman, hoping to impress with back-to-back Heineken Cup clashes with Agen ahead, skewed the sixth-minute chance wide and failed to put his stamp on the game as Leinster's first receiver.
Back by the wind in the first half, Leinster took a 3-0 lead into the break with D'Arcy pushing over a neat drop goal on the 30-minute mark.
Courtesy of the recent autumn series, Ulster had the bigger spread of Irish internationals from the kick-off - 13 to Leinster's 12 - but one of them, Isaac Boss, almost set up an early try for Leinster when he had a clearance kick charged down.
...Isaac Boss flings a pass out from an Ulster ruck...
Ulster regrouped and after Dunne's miss, steadied themselves despite Leinster's possessional and territorial advantage. They defended Leinster's lineout mauls with vigour, even if some of their defensive methods were illegal. Bryan Young and Neil Best, in particular, never shirked a challenge.
The sides were cut to 14 men apiece on 26 minutes when Ulster lock Matt McCullough and Leinster prop Fosi Pala'amo were yellow carded for their part in some heated exchanges - and what would an Interpro be without some of them?
D'Arcy struck moments later - with the third drop goal of his Leinster career - and deservedly so after Trevor Hogan had done well to steal the hosts' lineout ball and Dunne's grubber through had been gobbled up.
Ulster did raise the stakes for the remainder of the half - witness Neil Best's thumping tackle on Denis Hickie as the Leinster winger took in Humphreys' restart kick - but their number 10 missed an injury-time penalty chance as Michael Cheika's men held onto their slim lead.
D'Arcy, who took the official man-of-the-match award, increased his influence in the early part of the second half and nearly got over for a try, only for Boss to put in a great hit on his Ireland team mate.
Leinster missed another try-scoring opportunity when former Wallaby lock Owen Finegan, teed up by his countryman Chris Whitaker, dropped the ball with the line at his mercy and it was left to Humphreys to bring Ulster level, soon after, with the first of his penalty brace, to the right of the posts from 45 metres out.
With the wind at his back, Humphreys came to the fore with some excellent touch-finding kicks, including one close to 90 metres. Young full-back Luke Fitzgerald clearly relished the chance to run any loose ball back at Ulster, but gradually the home side gained a control of possession.
A similar penalty kick from Humphreys, awarded after Reggie Corrigan, who was making his 127th appearance for Leinster, had infringed on the deck, then sent Ulster ahead for the first time.
Surely Ulster, so strong traditionally in the second half, could pick off the win from here? The answer was a resounding no as Leinster's forwards ground out a close range penalty shot for D'Arcy and the Wexford man obliged for the final points of an engrossing encounter.
...Ireland team mates Neil Best and Brian O'Driscoll greet each other after the final whistle at Ravenhill...
TIME LINE: 26 minutes - Leinster yellow card: Fosi Pala'amo, Ulster yellow card: Matt McCullough; 30 mins - Leinster drop goal: Gordon D'Arcy - 0-3; Half-time - Ulster 0 Leinster 3; 60 mins - Ulster penalty: David Humphreys - 3-3; 65 mins - Ulster penalty: David Humphreys - 6-3; 70 mins - Leinster penalty: Gordon D'Arcy - 6-6; 73 mins - Ulster yellow card: Justin Harrison; Full-time - Ulster 6 Leinster 6
ULSTER: Bryn Cunningham; Mark Bartholomeusz, Paul Steinmetz, Paddy Wallace, Paul McKenzie; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Kieron Dawson, Roger Wilson.
Replacements used: Kevin Maggs for Wallace (54 mins), Stephen Ferris for Dawson (65). Not used: Paul Shields, Justin Fitzpatrick, Tim Barker, Kieran Campbell, Scott Young.
LEINSTER: Luke Fitzgerald; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Denis Hickie; Andy Dunne, Chris Whitaker; Ronan McCormack, Brian Blaney, Fosi Pala'amo, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O'Kelly, Owen Finegan, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Reggie Corrigan for Finegan (32-37 mins), Christian Warner for Dunne (50), Corrigan for Pala'amo (57), Stephen Keogh for Finegan (65). Not used: Harry Vermaas, Cameron Jowitt, Guy Easterby, Rob Kearney.
Sin Bin: McCullough (Ulster), Pala'amo (Leinster) (both 26 mins); Harrison (Ulster) (73)
Referee: Olan Trevor (Ireland)