Monday 22 January 2018

Leinster's first win in Glasgow since 2012 puts them in control of Champions Cup pool

Glasgow Warriors 18 Leinster 34

Jonathan Sexton of Leinster celebrates with Jamison Gibson-Park after scoring his side's third try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 2 match between Glasgow Warriors and Leinster at Scotstoun in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton of Leinster celebrates with Jamison Gibson-Park after scoring his side's third try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 2 match between Glasgow Warriors and Leinster at Scotstoun in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton of Leinster during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 2 match between Glasgow Warriors and Leinster at Scotstoun in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster have taken a firm control of their Champions Cup Pool 3 qualification campaign after a comprehensive dismissal of Glasgow Warriors, who are now virtually out.

The key moments of this game arrived just before the break and were a take of two penalties.

With the sides pegged at 7-7, Stuart Hogg missed his from distance but Leinster kicked theirs to the corner, rumbling Cian Healy over the line for a stunning 20-yard mauled try, his second of the half.

Jonathan Sexton's conversion made it 14-7 to the visitors when they could have trailed 10-7 after an error-strewn first-half.

Stuart Hogg had scored a wonderfully creative try but his side struggled to join all the dots in their attempts to paint pretty pictures.

Tommy Seymour's second-half try threatened a comeback but Leinster responded superbly, with Sexton's fine finish and a late Noel Reid effort against the flagging Scots securing the bonus.

It was Leinster's first win here in five years and, with Exeter away to come, a third win in eleven road trips will imbue them with confidence ahead of the December resumption.

Glasgow's start was aimed with best intentions but dogged by poor invention; Ali Price inexplicably box-kicked to touch as his side received the restart.

Sean Cronin's lineout 30 metres out was secured by Rhys Ruddock and Glasgow were forced into another immediate error on the deck and within three minutes Jonathan Sexton had silenced the crowd and alerted the scoreboard with the opening points.

Luke McGrath and Fergus McFadden had messed up the free ball but no matter; it was just the start the away side wanted.

Glasgow were nervous and their kicking game was awry; George Turner skewed an attacking lineout but when Leinster handed him back the slippery pill, he promptly returned back; McFadden slid on his rear as both sides struggled for purchase on the flooded carpet.

Glasgow needed a lift and Stuart Hogg provided it; Tim Swinson had wrestled a Leinster attacking line-out from the grasp of Jack Conan to set up the attack, from which the dazzling foot-work of Hogg saw him evade Robbie Henshaw and Sexton.

Retreating Leinster paid the minimum penalty; Finn Russell levelling the game in the 14th minute as the visitors strayed offside.

That energised the Scotstoun faithful and their team responded with the opening try from the very next attack.

That man Hogg created it; his decoy run allowed Russell and Sam Johnson effect a marvellous wraparound – copyright Leinster – Tommy Seymour grubbered from tight on the right touchline and full-back Hogg did wonderfully well to dot down.

Leinster supporters argued that his right ankle was in touch as he finished in an almost crouching pose; Sexton was in a grouching pose as he complained about obstruction.

The try was awarded though and Russell salted the wounds with a touchline conversion. Henshaw spilled from the restart and suddenly Leinster's shift became much more difficult.

Thankfully, Glasgow's brutal tactical kicking allowed them to recoup their losses; Hogg may have magic in his boots but also rocket fuel; improbably, he banged a kick dead from inside his own 22.

Leinster made the territory pay as they finally made some ball-carrying ground; Sean Cronin's the highlight as his burst close in eventually allowed front-row colleague Cian Healy to barge over in the 25th minute.

Sexton, with the aid of the woodwork, levelled the scores up; then Glasgow, having already lost Ryan Wilson for nearly 15 minutes while he fought a battle of wounded knee, then lost him altogether after he knocked himself out when clattering into second-row Tim Swinson.

Wilson wanted to stay on but mercifully that wasn't allowed; Swinson did return. Glasgow then conceded a penalty for angling a five-metre scrum as their entire side suddenly returned to a collectively dazed state.

Leinster's poor exits, mostly off nine, weren't helping them alleviate any pressure and that allowed the hosts another couple of opportunities to attempt a repeat of the try-scoring gambit on the edges that had paid off earlier.

They couldn't manage that, or a penalty chance for Hogg just before the break after Scott Fardy conceded Leinster's second penalty of the day, scragging Swinson in the air at a line-out. Again Hogg had plenty of distance from just inside Leinster's half but none of the accuracy.

Swinson, who had pummelled Devin Toner in a tackle, was having an influential final few moments of the half after his return; his penalty concession would be the most crucial intervention of all.

Rhys Ruddock's smashing tackle had rocked his opponent on his heels; soon his side would be.

For Leinster would spurn the kick at goal into the wind and, instead, launched a superbly structured and physically rampaging long maul from the 22; Cian Healy the one man wrecking ball finishing the work of the eight-man demolition crew.

Sexton's conversion pushed Leinster 17-10 ahead when they could have trailed 10-7; championship moments as a former coach of theirs used to say.

Glasgow came out breathing fury but technical limitations undermined their assault; Leinster assumed control almost immediately with their third try as they re-claimed the copy-righted loop in the 45th minute.

Sexton finished it, benefiting from Fardy's delicious out the back deception, bamboozling the defence; earlier, Luke McGrath's shortside dash across half-way in conjunction with replacement Dave Kearney, and his sprint up the middle had created the field position.

Now, at 24-10 they were thinking bonus but, as in any sport, the threat of concession is greater after a team scores itself.

Glasgow proved they could be deadly accurate once they retained the ball and didn't panic; they did so with some crisp passing, eventually finding the over-lap on the stressed left-hand side of the Leinster defence, Tommy Seymour profiting.

Game on again and Glasgow threatened again; Johnson tore free in midfield, breaking Sexton's tackle but the out-half chased him down like a rabid hunting dog, in the process perhaps saving a try as the game entered the final quarter.

Sexton was wobbling on his pins after his haring, harrying chase and his side were stuttering too, despite hauling on their bench heavyies.

One of them, Dan Leavy, flew through the middle of a ruck and his hare-brained action gave Russell the chance of a fourth successful kick; suddenly, it was a one-score game again, 24-18.

Back came Leinster, this time Tadhg Furlong with the excellent carry in midfield as Sexton looped before being held back by Peter Horne; the local was lucky not be carded but was punished nonetheless as the Lions out-half nailed the penalty to restore the two-score advantage, 27-18.

Sexton departed to a round chorus of boos as his business was concluded; soon his team's would as well as Glasgow resorted to Hail Mary attempts to score just a few metres from their own line.

They never had a prayer.

Reid's late bonus – after wonderful work from Henshaw before Joey Carbery scissored the ball back inside to create a huge hole – ensured Glasgow emerged with nothing while Leinster now have everything to play for.

Glasgow Warriors – S Hogg; T Seymour, S Johnson (N Grigg 69), P Horne (S Johnson 75), L Sarto (L Jones 61); F Russell, A Price; J Bhatti (A Allan 61), G Turner (P MacArthur 65), Z Fagerson (D Rae 78), T Swinson, J Gray, R Wilson (R Harley 6-23 blood;28), C Gibbins (G Turner 75), A Ashe (S Cummings 62).

Leinster – J Carbery, F McFadden, R Henshaw, N Reid, B Daly (D Kearney 42), J Sexton (R Byrne 69), L McGrath (J Gibson-Park 62), C Healy (J McGrath 50), S Cronin (J Tracy 50), T Furlong, D Toner, S Fardy (J Ryan 55), R Ruddock, J van der Flier (D Leavy 50), J Conan.

Man of the match: Rhys Ruddock (Leinster)

Ref – J Garces (Fra)

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