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Leinster Leave It Late Against Committed Connacht

Leinster Leave It Late Against Committed Connacht

Connacht came frustratingly close to following up on last weekend’s historic win over Munster but a late rally, which included tries from Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald, was enough for Leinster to take the Magners League spoils on offer at the RDS on Friday.

A quick break inside the opening five minutes looked to have set Leinster up nicely for retribution for October’s shock 19-18 loss away to Connacht.

Isa Nacewa, playing once again at number 10, broke free setting up Stephen Keogh, who was grounded five metres short, but the power of the home pack made Connacht pay and they drove lock Trevor Hogan across the line.
Galvanised by Felipe Contepomi’s missed conversion, Connacht, who were gunning for their first ever season’s double over an Irish side, clawed their way back.

Former Leinster Academy player Ian Keatley made them pay for indiscipline, which marred both sides’ play. He sent over an eighth minute penalty.
A touch judge then ruled that Luke Fitzgerald had put a foot into touch before crossing the try-line which would have given Michael Cheika’s side some breathing space.

Back came Connacht as a Keatley drop goal attempt went agonisingly wide before Contepomi and Keatley exchanged penalties to leave it 8-6 to Leinster after 15 minutes.
The indiscipline of both packs around the scrum and ruck area was a constant feature of the game, with Connacht prop John Lyne sin-binned and Leinster prop Stan Wright warned.

This gave Contepomi and then Keatley the opportunity to add to their tallies before the half-time whistle blew.

A last minute penalty from Keatley could have sent Connacht into the lead at the break but his effort sailed wide and Leinster turned around with a 14-12 buffer.
Keatley opened the second half with a penalty and increased Connacht’s lead to 18-14 following Wright’s sin-binning for a punch up.

But the outstanding Keatley would end up on the losing side as his team-mates failed to match his brilliance with the boot.

Rob Kearney showed a fine burst of pace to go over in the 68th minute and put a serious dent in Connacht’s hopes.
Tellingly, replacements Malcolm O’Kelly, Cian Healy and Brian O’Driscoll gave Leinster the boost they needed in the closing ten minutes.

Man-of-the-match Nacewa, who up to that point was largely disappointing, danced past three Connacht players before releasing Rocky Elsom who, in turn, sent O’Driscoll clear.
The break finished with a dubious pass which Fitzgerald took and touched down underneath the posts. Contepomi added the conversion to harshly deny Connacht a losing bonus point.