It has been a week to forget for Leinster as just six days after their exit from the Heineken Cup, they lost tonight to Glasgow for the first time since 2002, going down 26-20 at Hughenden.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 6
GLASGOW WARRIORS 26 LEINSTER 20, Hughenden (Attendance: 2,121)
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Hefin O’Hare, Rory Lamont, Thom Evans; Con: Dan Parks; Pens: Dan Parks 3
Leinster: Tries: Gordon D’Arcy 2; Cons: Felipe Contepomi 2; Pens: Felipe Contepomi 2
Leinster’s five-year winning streak over Glasgow came to an end as Sean Lineen’s Warriors dug deep to see out a deserved win, crowned by tries from wingers Hefin O’Hare and Thom Evans and full-back Rory Lamont.
Leinster still took something from the defeat. It was their first loss in the league since December, but stand-in skipper Felipe Contepomi’s late penalty did secure them a losing bonus point.
That point has extended Leinster’s lead at the top of the table to five points, with chief chasers Ulster having a free weekend.
O’Hare opened the scoring in the 12th-minute after Shane Horgan was forced to carry a kick through from Dan Parks over his try line. Glasgow worked scrum ball out to Thom Evans in midfield, possession was quickly recycled before Parks threw a beautiful long pass out for the unchallenged O’Hare to touch down.
Parks, who was wayward with an early penalty, missed the conversion attempt and shortly afterwards, Leinster cut the deficit to 5-3 when Contepomi landed his first penalty of the night. That was cancelled out by a Parks effort and the Scots were sprung into a 13-3 lead when Lamont crossed for his try in the 25th-minute.
Glasgow centre Scott Barrow intercepted a loose pass from Horgan, Contepomi failed to deal with a deft kick over the top from Parks and Lamont was on hand to score.
The closing quarter-hour of the first half saw Leinster come right back into the tie, with Horgan and D’Arcy to the fore. The former narrowly failed to find the supporting Denis Hickie with a try-scoring pass after an excellent 30-metre attack.
The Glasgow defence stood strong until injury-time when D’Arcy charged in under the posts after taking a pass from Jamie Heaslip which looked decidedly forward.
The try stood and Contepomi’s simple conversion left the game nicely poised at the break at 13-10 in the home side’s favour.
Leinster should have gone level, just three minutes into the second half, but Contepomi’s kicking boots failed him from 35 metres out.
Cheika’s men did take the lead two minutes later when D’Arcy capitalised on some poor tackling from the hosts to glide in for his second try which Contepomi added the extras to.
Glasgow bounced back with two penalty successes from Parks and they missed out on another try when John Barclay knocked on with the try line in sight.
Parks’ second strike came after Leinster prop Stan Wright had been sin-binned for his involvement in a fracas. The most important try of the night followed five minutes later when Evans raced in for a brilliant solo try – he attacked from his own 22, hoofed ahead and with Horgan losing his footing in the race for the ball, Evans managed to outpace Hickie to snatch the score.
Parks converted for a 26-17 buffer for Glasgow and although Leinster tried hard for a third try of their own, all they could muster in reply was a 77th-minute penalty from Contepomi, after the Scots’ replacements Donnie Macfadyen was yellow carded.
Contepomi was left ruing two missed penalty opportunities in the second half, but a strong effort from the Glasgow pack and the ability of their backs to take their try-scoring chances was enough to see the hosts to a valuable win in their battle with Edinburgh to finish the campaign as Scotland’s top-ranked side.
Leinster consoled themselves with the bonus and it proved to be a memorable night for two of their players – Kevin McLaughlin impressed on his debut as a second half replacement, while Reggie Corrigan joined Shane Byrne as the joint-most capped Leinster player of all time when he came on to make his 135th appearance for the province.
TIME LINE: 12 minutes – Glasgow try: Hefin O’Hare – 5-0; conversion: missed by Dan Parks – 5-0; 15 mins – Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi – 5-3; 21 mins – Glasgow penalty: Dan Parks – 8-3; 25 mins – Glasgow try: Rory Lamont – 13-3; conversion: missed by Dan Parks – 13-3; 40+2 mins – Leinster try: Gordon D’Arcy – 13-8; conversion: Felipe Contepomi 13-10; Half-time – Glasgow 13 Leinster 10; 45 mins – Leinster try: Gordon D’Arcy – 13-15; conversion: Felipe Contepomi 13-17; 49 mins – Glasgow penalty: Dan Parks – 16-17; 56 mins – Leinster sin-binning: Stan Wright; 57 mins – Glasgow penalty: Dan Parks – 19-17; 62 mins – Glasgow try: Thom Evans – 24-17; conversion: Dan Parks – 26-17; 77 mins – Leinster penalty: Felipe Contepomi – 26-20; Full-time – Glasgow 26 Leinster 20
Glasgow: Rory Lamont; Hefin O’Hare, Graeme Morrison, Scott Barrow, Thom Evans; Dan Parks, Graeme Beveridge; Justin Va’a, Fergus Thomson, Euan Murray, Andy Newman, Alastair Kellock, Steve Swindall, John Barclay, John Beattie.
Replacements used: Donnie Macfadyen for Beattie (33 mins), Scott Lawson for Thomson (48), Kevin Tkachuk for Va’a (59), Andrew Wilson for Swindall (80). Not used: Dan Turner, Colin Gregor, Colin Shaw.
Leinster: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Gordon D’Arcy, Christian Warner, Denis Hickie; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker, Stan Wright, Brian Blaney, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O’Kelly, Cameron Jowitt, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements used: Owen Finegan for Malcolm O’Kelly (50 mins), Harry Vermaas for Blaney, Reggie Corrigan for Green (both 57), Green for Corrigan, Kevin McLaughlin for Hogan (both 65), Luke Fitzgerald for Hickie, Hogan for Jowitt (both 71), Rob Kearney for Dempsey (78). Not used: Guy Easterby.
Sin Bin: Stan Wright (Leinster) (56 mins), Donnie Macfadyen (Glasgow (77).
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Touch Judges: David Jack, Gary Duncan (both Scotland)