Tuesday 11 December 2018

Leinster run in eight tries against Glasgow to seal home quarter-final

Scott Fardy scored two of Leinster's tries
Scott Fardy scored two of Leinster's tries

Leinster took just 34 minutes to register their bonus point as they saw off a depleted Glasgow Warriors side 55-19 at the RDS Arena to secure a European Champions Cup home quarter-final.

Sean Cronin, Scott Fardy and Johnny Sexton all touched down in a dazzling seven-minute spell before half-time, adding to earlier scores from Jordi Murphy and Leinster captain Isa Nacewa.

Trailing 34-7 and without the likes of Finn Russell, Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg, bottom-placed Glasgow could only salvage some pride with second half scores from Adam Ashe and Niko Matawalu, his second of the game.

Nacewa and Fardy completed their braces and James Lowe scored on his European debut as the Irish province finished with eight tries in all. Having guaranteed top spot in the pool, they close out the group stages away to Montpellier next Saturday.

Warriors played with plenty of spark early on, with Lee Jones threatening out wide and Nick Grigg also prominent. But Leinster's first visit to the 22 resulted in a seventh-minute try, man-of-the-match Luke McGrath's beautifully pulled-back pass sending Murphy in under the posts.

Glasgow then capitalised on flanker Murphy's sin-binning for not being back 10 metres as Ali Price threatened to score from a tap penalty. That try arrived in the 16th minute, Matawalu's sidestepping leaving two defenders for dead with Peter Horne's conversion briefly bringing Glasgow level.

Nacewa used a Sexton pass to neatly unlock the Glasgow defence soon after, his converted try quickly followed by a Sexton penalty goal for a 17-7 lead.

After a maul had sucked in defenders, hooker Cronin bounced up off the deck to reach over on the half-hour mark. Running back a loose Glasgow kick, Jordan Larmour freed up Lowe out wide and Sexton was tackled short before Fardy dived over unopposed in the left corner.

Fardy and Lowe created Leinster's fifth and final try before the interval, with the latter putting Sexton over in the corner.

Robbie Henshaw had a try ruled out on the restart as sufficient advantage had not been played for Glasgow, before Fijian flyer Matawalu went on the prowl for another try-of-the-season contender from deep.

A 56th-minute maul set-up and McGrath's well-timed pass released Nacewa to complete his brace from close range. Ross Byrne, on for Sexton, converted but a free-flowing Glasgow attack, with Jackson and Matawalu to the fore, ended with number eight Ashe replying in the 61st minute.

Lowe crashed over from a Nacewa pass to open his Champions Cup account, although Leinster were sloppy at times as the game grew increasingly loose.

It was Lowe who erred when shooting out of defence and allowed Matawalu enough space to dive over in the right corner. Fittingly, it was workhorse Fardy who had the final say in the 77th minute, crossing from a dominant maul with Byrne tagging on his third conversion.

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