Leinster conceded a late converted try to Connacht centre Andrew Mailei but still held on for a 16-13 win over their provincial rivals at Donnybrook on Sunday.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Sunday, March 5
Leinster 16 Connacht 13, Donnybrook (Att: 3,573)
Scorers: Leinster: Try: Felipe Contepomi; Con: Contepomi; Pens: Contepomi 3
Connacht: Try: Andrew Mailei; Con: Paul Warwick; Pens: Warwick 2
Leinster moved back up to third in the Celtic League as fly half and stand-in captain Felipe Contepomi converted his own 64th-minute try, adding to three earlier penalties, to help his side edge past the westerners.
But Michael Cheika's men were given a tough test by Connacht in their final competitive outing before the Heineken Cup quarter-final trip to Toulouse on April 1.
Helped by three penalties from the boot of number 10 Paul Warwick, Connacht made the hosts fight to the finish as Tongan bruiser Mailei bagged a 76th-minute try and only a botched lineout kept the westerners from adding to their tally in injury-time.
Connacht looked lively from the off - two early turnovers and a searing 20-metre break from young centre Keith Matthews confirmed their intentions.
Disappointingly, Matthews was forced off soon after through injury. Connacht lost their second centre John Hearty to a facial injury late in the first half, but they still held firm for a 6-3 lead at half time.
Australian fly half Warwick, who is Ireland-qualified in 15 months' time, swung over two penalties from the left and right on 12 and 24 minutes for a 6-0 lead.
Warwick then missed a third penalty shot on 28 minutes, and Leinster took a hold on possession for the remainder of the half. Only a spate of poor decision-making saw them fail to garner a try. Denis Hickie, who was making his 100th appearance for the province, Keith Gleeson and Contepomi were all swallowed up in possession when overlaps were visibly on.
Leinster missed a good chance in injury-time when they allowed Connacht captain Andrew Farley to steal a lineout, five metres from his own line. However, Contepomi kicked a subsequent penalty to reduce the gap to three.
Contepomi, the league's top scorer, added his second place kick, 12 minutes into the second half. A needless sin binning for prop Reggie Corrigan, who launched a fist at Farley at a ruck on the hour, lessened the Leinster charge but Contepomi touched down moments later.
Guy Easterby fed his skipper metres from the Connacht line, Contepomi slipped on the sand-laden surface but stepped inside the tackle of Darren Yapp and just got over under pressure from John Fogarty, He converted for 13-6.
Contepomi added a penalty to push his league tally to 201 points for the season. Nonetheless, Mailei crossed for his first league try after a brilliant break from the powerful Matt Mostyn. Warwick set up a dramatic finish with the conversion, but when Connacht opted to kick a penalty to touch rather then go for the posts and a draw, hooker Fogarty's throw was ruled crooked by referee Olan Trevor and Leinster supporters breathed a sigh of relief.
TIME LINE: 12 minutes - Connacht penalty: Paul Warwick - 0-3; 24 mins - Connacht penalty: Paul Warwick - 0-6; 40(+3) mins - Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi - 3-6; Half-time - Leinster 3 Connacht 6; 52 mins - Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi - 6-6; 60 mins - Leinster yellow card: Reggie Corrigan; 64 mins - Leinster try: Felipe Contepomi - 11-6; conversion: Felipe Contepomi - 13-6; 74 mins - Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi - 16-6; 76 mins - Connacht try: Andrew Mailei - 16-11; conversion: Paul Warwick - 16-13; Full-time - Leinster 16 Connacht 13
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Robert Kearney, Kieran Lewis, Jonny Hepworth, Denis Hickie; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Guy Easterby; Reggie Corrigan, Brian Blaney, Will Green, Cameron Jowitt, Bryce Williams, Eric Miller, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Ben Gissing for Miller (half-time), Emmett Byrne for Jowitt (63-72 mins). Not used: Bernard Jackman, Adam Byrnes, Brian O'Riordan, Jonathan Sexton, Gary Brown.
CONNACHT: Mark McHugh; Darren Yapp, John Hearty, Keith Matthews, Matt Mostyn; Paul Warwick, Chris Keane; Ray Hogan, John Fogarty, Adrian Clarke, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), John Muldoon, Brendan O'Connor, Colm Rigney.
Replacements used: David Slemen for Matthews (9 mins), Andrew Mailei for Hearty (39), Matt Lacey for O'Connor (47), Tom Tierney for Keane (68). Not used: Joe Merrigan, Dan McFarland, Christian Short.
Referee: Olan Trevor (Ireland)