Leinster find power in reserve to edge home
Published 19/03/2010 | 05:00
LEINSTER's returning internationals will be thanking their less vaunted squad-mates who kept them on course for the Magners League play-off semi-finals after the European champions extended their lead at the top of the table.
But it wasn't all good news as Kevin McLaughlin was forced off with a first-half arm injury, potentially further depleting Michael Cheika's back-row resources.
Coming as it did between internationals, both sides were understrength for this clash, but it was one of the fringe players to put his hand up -- Fergus McFadden -- who got Leinster on their way with a well-struck penalty four minutes in.
Ruaridh Jackson missed a kickable penalty for Glasgow, but the visitors replied with a deserved try after 17 minutes. Calum Forrester pounced on an overthrow by Bernard Jackman and was held up short of the Leinster line; the Scots camped in the '22 for 14 phases before Paul O'Donohoe and McFadden cleared.
But despite being thwarted from close in, Hefin O'Hare tried again from long range and after taking Jackson's pass on the edge of his own '22, he showed Shaun Berne a clean pair of heels and when faced with McLaughlin as the last man, the wing dummied brilliantly and cruised over. Jackson converted.
Then, after Devin Toner had blocked down fly-half Jackson's clearance and run out of space, McFadden was able to close the gap with a 20th-minute penalty.
And the centre was celebrating a try of his own three minutes later as the backs went off a good Malcolm O'Kelly lineout ball off the top and McFadden drew his man.
He then fed Isa Nacewa, who scythed through and with Bernardo Stortoni to beat, he drew the Argentine and completed the one-two with McFadden, who crossed under the posts and converted the excellent try. There was some concern for Michael Cheika when McLaughlin was forced off but it was his replacement, Eoin Sheriff, who forced the turnover that led to his side's second try.
Nacewa found touch on the Warriors' five-metre line and the highly rated Lansdowne blindside won the ball at two brilliantly.
The forwards' maul took them to within a metre and, after Nacewa and Mike Ross had probed, it was Girvan Dempsey who reached over the line to score.
McFadden converted to make the score 20-7 at the break, but the influential centre failed to reappear after the interval, seemingly because he had shipped a knock. Academy prospect Ian Madigan and the experienced Stan Wright came into the fray to replace McFadden and CJ van der Linde respectively.
The changes, coupled with four from Glasgow, affected the rhythm of the game and the 11,814 strong crowd had to wait 28 minutes for the second half's only score, Glasgow replacement Colin Gregor splitting the defence to cross and converting to give his side a losing bonus point.
LEINSTER -- G Dempsey; Simon Keogh, E O'Malley, F McFadden (I Madigan h-t), I Nacewa; S Berne (M Keating 65), P O'Donohoe; CJ van der Linde (S Wright h-t), B Jackman (R Strauss 77), M Ross (van der Linde 59); D Toner, M O'Kelly; K McLaughlin (E Sheriff 32), P Ryan, Stephen Keogh.
GLASGOW WARRIORS -- B Stortoni; H O'Hare, P Murchie, P Horne (D McCall 70), DTH van der Merwe; R Jackson (C Gregor 48), M McMillan; J Welsh, D Hall (M Low 48), E Kalman (M Low 48); T Barker, D Turner; J Eddie (P Burke 48), C Forrester, R Vernon.
REF -- N Owens (WRU).