Tuesday 25 July 2017

Leinster lack cutting edge

Cardiff Blues 11 Leinster 3

Matt Lloyd

Leinster lost ground in the Magners League as they tumbled to fourth place following defeat at Cardiff Blues.

The Dubliners produced a stirring defensive display, but that rarely looked enough to edge a closely fought tie at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Isa Nacewa kicked his team's only points on the stroke of half-time, though Blues full-back Dan Fish had already crossed for the game's only try before a late penalty from Ceri Sweeney, five minutes from time, denied Leinster even the consolation of a losing bonus point.

The victory propelled Cardiff up to second, two points ahead of Leinster, who also fell behind the Ospreys. Nacewa missed the chance to kick Leinster into an early lead when his third-minute shot at goal drifted wide of the left-hand upright.

From that point the visitors struggled for possession as the Blues controlled the ball for most of the first half.

Leinster's ferocious defence prevented any clear-cut try-scoring opportunities but after Xavier Rush was upended in midfield the supporting defence flew into the ruck off their feet and Sweeney had no problem kicking the resulting penalty to open the scoring.

It was not until the 30th minute that the Blues finally managed to capitalise on their glut of possession.

They hammered at the door through 10 phases within sniffing distance of the line before Leinster inevitably ran out of numbers and Martyn Williams's pass sent young full-back Fish sliding over in the corner.

As the first half drew to a close it was Leinster who finally stepped up in attack and Nacewa registered three points on the stroke of half-time.

The second half descended into a stalemate and though Leinster, at 8-3 behind, were always in with a shot at snatching victory, Eoin O'Malley was held up over the line at the climax of his team's most promising attack.

Scorers -- Cardiff: D Fish try, C Sweeney 2 pens. Leinster: I Nacewa pen.

Cardiff: D Fish; R Mustoe, G Evans, D Hewitt, T James (J Loxton, 63); C Sweeney (D Parks, T Slater (R Downes, 73); J Yapp, G Williams, T Filise (S Andrews, 55), D Jones, P Tito (capt), A Pretorius, X Rush (M Molitika, 60), M Williams.

Leinster: I Nacewa; A Conway, E O'Malley, E Sheridan (E Reddan, 47), N Morris (M Keating, 66); I McKinley (I Madigan, 57), I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, C Newland (S Wright, 57), L Cullen (capt), D Toner (N Hines, 57), K McLaughlin, R Ruddock (S Keogh, 63, R Ruddock, 70-75), D Ryan.

Referee: Carlo Damasco (Italy).

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