Saturday 22 July 2017

Leinster light up as darkness floods RDS

Leinster 31 Glasgow 30

Players keep warm after a floodlight failure causes a break in play. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Players keep warm after a floodlight failure causes a break in play. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Not even floodlight failure could stop them.

The lights went out with 94 seconds left here and the RDS waited for back-up power. At times, a greenhorn team looked like they needed it too. After a 20-minute delay, they got over the line without further darkness descending.

Having let slip a 23-6 first-half lead to trail 30-28 in the final quarter, Leinster clung onto victory having, like the floodlights, so suddenly switched off.

First-half tries from Dominic Ryan, Rory O'Loughlin and Peter Dooley had Leinster 23-6 up but Glasgow stormed back to lead 30-28 at one stage before Joey Carbery sealed the win with a 74th-minute penalty.

Joey Carbery of Leinster is tackled by Sam Johnson, left, and Tim Swinson of Glasgow Warriors. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery of Leinster is tackled by Sam Johnson, left, and Tim Swinson of Glasgow Warriors. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It could have been easier but Glasgow's roller-coaster held a tale within a tale. It's not long since the roles of these sides were reversed; no longer.

Two years ago, when Glasgow Warriors brushed past Leinster and annexed this title in such thrilling and expansive fashion, their enterprising coach Gregor Townsend hailed the potential of a rugby dynasty to rival that of Barcelona.

Unfurled

Instead, like the famous Scottish play, what was once unfurled as vaulting ambition has been utterly undone.

In contrast, despite their indecent pause for breath last season, Leinster have regrouped; here, they were without 13 European starters.

It is now they who possess the dynasty; Glasgow more resemble Barnsley than Barcelona.

Peter Horne tapped over a fourth-minute penalty but Leinster's response represented a microcosm of their recuperation this entire season; swift, telling and offering incisive intention.

Jamison Gibson-Park of Leinster is tackled by Tommy Seymour of Glasgow Warriors. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Jamison Gibson-Park of Leinster is tackled by Tommy Seymour of Glasgow Warriors. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Zane Kirchner ran back the restart clearance, his side advanced a few rucks before replacement Noel Reid swung a wide pass right to touchline-hugging Adam Byrne.

Another infield ruck allowed Ross Byrne to offload a delicious inside ball to Kirchner cutting against the grain, busting the hole which Ryan also entered to take the supporting line and finish the job.

His job is nearly finished, too; his seventh-minute score was warmly embraced by a crowd he left earlier than expected, with a wrist injury; Ulster may beckon as a lot of other doors may have closed.

Ross Byrne added the extras and two minutes later he was lining up the kicking tee once more as Leinster doubled their advantage; a 652nd try in this Guinness PRO12 term, a quirky stat but relevant because it is the highest seasonal total ever recorded.

O'Loughlin scored it - Leinster's 88th - after the hosts had advanced stealthily from a scrum on their own line, eventually pounding their way towards halfway, from where Dan Leavy - a late switch for calf victim Jack Conan - made a vital handful of yards.

Jamison Gibson-Park of Leinster is tackled by Ali Price, right, and Tommy Seymour of Glasgow Warriors. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Jamison Gibson-Park of Leinster is tackled by Ali Price, right, and Tommy Seymour of Glasgow Warriors. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Ross Byrne kicked from the comfort of his pocket and as, Tommy Seymour and Leonardo Sarto performed a mid-air Glasgow kiss, Adam Byrne got enough of a hand on the ball to tap down and allow the centre to freewheel over the line.

Ross Byrne would miss the conversion but 12-3 offered a comprehensive riposte to the initial clamour from the visitors.

Horne limited the bleeding by halving the deficit with a 26th-minute penalty, for offside.

As half-time approached, Leinster's hunger remained undimmed; having scored from one, they were awarded another kickable penalty; this time the young captain Ross Molony pointed towards the corner.

The Leinster maul wheeled its way to the line without much impediment, save an illegal one which was rendered redundant by the time the blue swarm had smothered Dooley over the line.

Byrne missed his converted attempt but added a penalty on the stroke of half-time, after Leinster's maul slightly lost its way. At 23-6, it was a rare mis-step.

Nabbed

Adam Ashe did bundle over for a converted try but when Sarto saw yellow, Kirchner nabbed the bonus before the hour.

But a quick-fire third-quarter brace from Lee Jones and Finn Russell, aided by kicks, turned events on their head.

By then, Mike Ross had departed to a fine 54th-minute ovation; his last here.

He leaves the place, as he once found it when he first arrived eight years ago, in fine nick indeed.

Despite their wobble, Leinster's late rally shows their younger stars can locate their guts while looking for glory.

Leinster - Z Kirchner; A Byrne, R O'Loughlin, T Daly (N Reid 58), F McFadden; R Byrne (J Carbery 71), N McCarthy (J Gibson-Park 67); P Dooley (J McGrath 58); J Tracy, M Ross (M Bent 54); R Molony (capt), M Kearney (I Nagle 67); D Ryan (P Timmins 8), J van der Flier (R Strauss 79), D Leavy.

Glasgow Warriors - T Seymour; L Sarto, N Grigg (A Dunbar 62), S Johnson, L Jones; P Horne (F Russell 58), H Pyrgos (A Price 54); A Allan (G Reid 54), F Brown (P MacArthur 54), S Puafisi (Z Fagerson 37), B Alainu'uese (R Harley 37), J Gray, T Swinson, C Fusaro, A Ashe (M Fagerson 62).

Ref - M Mitrea (FIR)

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