A brilliant opening half to tonight’s game saw Connacht lead 8 – 6 at the break but the night ended in disappointed for the hosts as Leinster scored a late try to secure the 8 – 16 victory at the Sportsground.

It was a strongly-fought battle from start to finish but Leinster took the lead from Connacht on the hour mark and held on to win the game.

Pat Lam’s men started the game strongly, dominating territory and camping in Leinster’s 22. But the visitors’ defence held strong to prevent any score.

Leinster outhalf Ian Madigan had the first shot at goal on 12 minutes but his kick drove the ball wide to the right of the posts to keep the scoreboard at 0 – 0.

Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy had a huge chance of a try when he dummied and broke through the Connacht defence who scrambled back to stave them off.

The first score of the night came midway through the half, when young Robbie Henshaw burst up through the centre from Connacht territory. He passed out wide to the onrushing Fionn Carr who touched down for the try. Jack Carty, on his first start for the province, struck the ball well but missed the difficult conversion.

20-year-old Darragh Leader, who started at full back tonight, tried his hand at two successive long-range penalties from the half way line. While both were on target, neither had the distance to go over.

Madigan then missed his second shot at goal on the half hour mark when his penalty kick from the half way line hit the cross bar. Five minutes later, Leinster forced a penalty from a rolling maul and this time, from 25metres out, the Dublin-born outhalf split the uprights to put his side on the board.

Following a skilful kick downfield from Henshaw to find touch, Leinster were pinned back into their 22 and Connacht forced the penalty in front of the posts. Carty assumed the kicking duties and slotted the three points to put Connacht 8 – 3 up at half time.

Half time score: Connacht 8 – 3 Leinster

The opening ten minutes of the second half saw both sides forced to defend wave after wave of attacking play. Leinster’s replacement outhalf Jimmy Gopperth was handed his first chance at three points when Connacht were caught offside.  The New Zealander slotted the penalty to reduce the deficit to just two points.

Gopperth followed up with another successful kick at goal on the hour mark to bring his side in front for the first time in the game.

His opposite number and Connacht replacement outhalf Dan Parks has a chance to take back the lead following a late tackle from Jamie Heaslip but his kick went wide to the right of the posts.

Inside the final ten minutes, the visitors secured their win through a well-worked maul. Gopperth offloaded to D’Arcy to push through and over the line for the try which was converted.

Final score: Connacht 8 – 16 Leinster

Attendance: 7, 210

Man of the Match: Jordi Murphy, Leinster

Connacht: D Leader (T O’Halloran 67); F Carr, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; J Carty (D Parks 60), K Marmion (P O’Donohoe 71); B Wilkinson (D Buckley 57), J Harris-Wright (D Heffernan 74), N White (R Ah You 43), M Kearney (M Swift 70), C Clarke captain, A Browne, J Muldoon, E McKeon (G Naupou 76)

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; I Madigan (J Gopperth 54), E Reddan (I Boss 54); J McGrath (J O’Connell 76), S Cronin (A Dundon 70), M Moore (M Ross 47), D Toner, T Denton (M McCarthy HT), R Ruddock (D Ryan 54), J Murphy, J Heaslip captain.

 

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