Thursday 23 March 2017

Schmidt hails Leinster spirit as Nacewa atones

Leinster were given a sharp reminder after drawing with Glasgow Warriors on Saturday at Firhill that, in spite of their successful run this season, victories in the Pro12 cannot be taken for granted.

Leinster and Glasgow needed little introduction for the fourth meeting this season between the two sides, Leinster having triumphed in both the Heineken Cup pool matches against the Warriors but having lost their league match in Dublin.

In the event, it was stalemate at the end of a match between two understrength sides that struggled on a soft surface made wetter by the constant drizzle.

Leinster were probably happy to come away with two points having trailed 10-0 going into the last quarter and having lost a player to the sin-bin.

"To come back and grab a draw in the circumstances of being down to 14 men in these conditions was terrific," said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.

Leinster, despite missing three kicks at goal, two by out-half Ian Madigan and one by Isa Nacewa, trailed by only 3-0 at half-time, Glasgow's international out-half Ruaridh Jackson having kicked a penalty.

The Warriors, though, should have picked up further first-half points when their forwards engineered a position close to the Leinster posts, only for scrum-half Henry Pyrgos to knock the ball on.

If the third quarter was a tale of no progress for both sides, the breakthrough for Glasgow came just before the hour mark when, from a line-out, second-row Tom Ryder broke clear before sending hooker Pat McArthur on a sprint to the line.

Nacewa managed to put a hit on McArthur as the hooker stretched out to dot the ball over the line. The video showed that the Glasgow No 2 had grazed the sideline as he put downward pressure on the ball. So no try. And that should have been that.

Except that Tipperary referee John Lacey, in consultation with the TMO, ruled that Nacewa's tackle had been executed with no use of the arms. In other words, a charge and therefore a penalty try was awarded, with the additional punishment of yellow card for Nacewa.

"That could have been a killer blow to us," said Leinster scrum-half Isaac Boss. "But, in fact, being down to 14 woke us up and gave us the motivation to launch a series of drives that brought a vital score."

The vital score was ignited by a couple of powerful surges by No 8 Leo Auva'a.

Then, from a series of close-range drives, prop Heinke van der Merwe burrowed over, Madigan's conversion kick cutting the gap to just three points. And then Nacewa kicked a penalty nine minutes from the end to level the scores.

Glasgow tried to break the deadlock and came close to scoring when Tommy Seymour chased a kick from replacement Scott Wight only for the ball to bounce awkwardly.

Glasgow Warriors -- P Murchie; D Lemi (T Seymour 66), A Dunbar, T Nathan, C Shaw; R Jackson (S Wight 66), H Pyrgos; R Grant (G Reid 63), P MacArthur (D Hall 55), J Welsh, N Campbell (R Verbakel 30), T Ryder, R Harley, C Fusaro, R Wilson (C Forrester 64)

Leinster -- I Nacewa; D Kearney, B Macken, C O'Shea (E O'Malley 40), F Carr (A Conway 63); I Madigan, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, N White (J Hagan 57), D Browne, M Flanagan (D Toner 40), D Ryan (J Murphy 65), S Jennings, L Auva'a.

Ref -- J Lacey (IRFU).

Irish Independent

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