Leinster missed out on the chance to go top of the Celtic League on Saturday as the defiant Dragons got the better of them at Rodney Parade.
…Leinster centre Kieran Lewis dots down his first try at Rodney Parade…
Leinster missed out on the chance to go top of the Celtic League as the defiant Dragons got the better of them at Rodney Parade.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, February 18
NEWPORT-GWENT DRAGONS 31 LEINSTER 18, Rodney Parade (Att: 5,117)
Scorers: Dragons: Tries: Jason Forster 2, Gareth Wyatt; Cons: Craig Warlow 2; Pens: Warlow 4
Leinster: Tries: Kieran Lewis 2; Con: Felipe Contepomi; Pens: Contepomi 2
Openside flanker and captain Jason Forster was the Welsh side’s talisman, scoring two tries to help the hosts to a fourth home win on the trot. For Leinster, who were without a hatful of Ireland players, it was a third successive defeat from a trip across the Irish sea.
Centre Kieran Lewis blazed through for two well-taken tries in either half, but there was little else to cheer for the hardy blue-shirted souls who travelled across from Ireland.
Leinster skipper Felipe Contepomi slotted over a ninth-minute penalty to open the scoring, but with the Dragons pack upping the tempo, the visitors’ lead was short-lived.
On 11 minutes, Gareth Wyatt launched an up-and-under, Ireland winger Denis Hickie let the dropping ball slip through his grasp on the Leinster 10-metre. The loose ball was hacked on and Wyatt won the foot race to score a sucker-punch try.
From then on, the Dragons took control. Craig Warlow, who converted the opener, tagged on a penalty, but Lewis showed Leinster meant business when dancing down the blindside to score his first on 26 minutes.
Still, Cheika’s men were left trailing 23-11 at half-time. Warlow and Contepomi had swapped further penalties before Forster burrowed over for his first try off a lineout drive. Warlow converted and added a penalty in first half injury-time.
It took 25 minutes of the second half before either side could add a score, and crucially, it was the Dragons. Rhys Thomas and Gareth Baber picked and drove, laying the ruck platform for Forster to grab his second try from a close range.
In reply, Lewis carved out a sizzling individual score for Leinster, with five minutes remaining. Jonny Hepworth pounced on a loose ball near the visitors’ 22 and set his centre partner free. Lewis had the gas to race 75 metres clear and touch down behind the posts.
The Dragons briefly wobbled, but effective fly half Warlow made certain of the win with an injury-time penalty.
DRAGONS: Aled Thomas; Gareth Wyatt, Nathan Brew, Jon Bryant, Ben Breeze; Craig Warlow (Sione Tuipulotu 80+1), Gareth Baber; Adam Black (David Maddocks 62), Steve Jones, Rhys Thomas, Andrew Hall (Bryn Griffiths 62), Peter Sidoli, Jamie Ringer, Jason Forster (capt), Rhys Oakley.
Replacements not used: Andrew Brown, Chris Anthony, Shawn Van Rensburg, Leigh Hinton.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Rob Kearney, Kieran Lewis, Jonny Hepworth, Denis Hickie; Felipe Contepomi (capt), Guy Easterby; Reggie Corrigan (Ronan McCormack 76), Brian Blaney, Will Green, Adam Byrnes (Ben Gissing 40-42, 62), Bryce Williams, Eric Miller, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip (Niall Ronan 56).
Replacements not used: David Blaney, Brian O’Riordan, Eoghan Hickey, Gary Brown.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)