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Celtic League: Jones Denies Leinster

Celtic League: Jones Denies Leinster

An injury-time penalty from Ospreys talisman Matthew Jones saw a valiant Leinster go down 22-20 to the reigning Celtic League champions on Sunday.

Rob Kearney scoring a try on his Leinster debut

An injury-time penalty from Ospreys talisman Matthew Jones saw a valiant Leinster go down 22-20 to the reigning Celtic League champions on Sunday.

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CELTIC LEAGUE: Sunday, September 4

Ospreys 22 Leinster 20, The New Stadium, Morfa (Att: 10,131)

Scorers: Ospreys: Tries: Andrew Bishop 2, Barry Williams; Cons: Matthew Jones 2; Pen: Jones

Leinster: Rob Kearney; Pens: Felipe Contepomi 5

Jones, who helped Wales to an Under-21 Grand Slam last season, kicked the Ospreys to a nervy victory on the opening weekend of the 2005/06 League as Michael Cheika’s competitive reign as Leinster coach got off to a losing start.

It was an heroic effort from the men in blue however, whose stand-in skipper Felipe Contepomi was in dead-eye goal kicking form, hammering over five penalties. Unfortunately, he missed the conversion of debutant winger Rob Kearney’s 76th-minute try – and those missed two points proved costly as the Welsh region stole the win in the dying seconds.

It was the worst possible start for Leinster – there were barely twenty seconds on the clock at the Ospreys’ New Stadium when Ireland Under-19 captain Kearney has his attempted clearance kick charged down by Andrew Bishop, who raced onto the loose ball to score.

Fly-half Jones converted, and although the home side bossed much of the first half, Leinster did well to force enough penalties for Contepomi to keep them in the hunt at the interval. The Argentinean international kicked a 13th-minute reply for 7-3 before a lineout drive, inspired by Andy Lloyd, allowed captain Barry Williams cross for the Ospreys’ second try on 22 minutes.

Jones converted but two Contepomi penalty hits in the third and sixth minutes of first half injury-time saw Leinster just 14-9 down at the break.

Leinster’s new-look pack, which included newcomers Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman and Will Green in the front row, increased their influence in the second half and Contepomi’s fourth penalty, four minutes in, had the Ospreys waivering in front.

The Welsh side’s indiscipline at rucks was allowing the province to kick themselves back into contention, and Contepomi’s latest success had followed a yellow card for home lock Lyndon Bateman for killing the ball.

Still the Ospreys held a slight edge in attack, and just when they seemed to be losing their grip on a 14-12 lead, a 72nd-minute break, created by Leigh Davies and Jason Spice, saw inside centre Bishop knife through for his second try, which went unconverted.

Leinster, with young substitutes Jamie Heaslip and Simon Crawford carrying well, replied with a try of their own, four minutes later, to set up a frantic finish. Ireland full-back Girvan Dempsey took play up to the Ospreys’ 22 on the left flank and aided by a fortunate deflection, his grubber kick through was latched onto by the advancing Kearney for a vital touchdown.

Contepomi missed the conversion to the left, but held his nerve with a 28-metre penalty strike in the first minute of injury-time to put the visitors 20-19 in front, and silence the home support. However, two minutes later, that good work was undone as Jones, from 45 metres, landed the match-winning kick.

OSPREYS: Stefan Terblanche; Richard Mustoe, Sonny Parker, Andrew Bishop, Aled Brew (Huw Bennett 45); Matthew Jones, Jason Spice; Duncan Jones, Barry Williams (Shaun Connor 69), Andrew Millward, Andy Newman, Lyndon Bateman, Lee Beech, Steve Tandy, Andy Lloyd.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Brendan Burke, Kieran Lewis, Felipe Contepomi, Rob Kearney; Christian Warner, Brian O’Meara (Guy Easterby 58); Ronan McCormack (Emmett Byrne 67), Bernard Jackman (David Blaney 76), Will Green, Des Dillon (Simon Crawford 60), Ben Gissing, Ciaran Potts, Keith Gleeson, Eric Miller (Jamie Heaslip 44).

Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland)