Sport Rugby

Sunday 17 December 2017

Fitzgerald wrapped in cotton wool as Leinster go top again

Leinster 28 Glasgow 25

Tim Swinson, Glasgow Warriors, is tackled by Jordi Murphy, Leinster
Tim Swinson, Glasgow Warriors, is tackled by Jordi Murphy, Leinster
1 March 2014; Pat MacArthur, Glasgow Warriors, is tackled by Mike McCarthy, left, and Leo Cullen, Leinster. Celtic League 2013/14 Round 16, Leinster v Glasgow Warriors, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE
Sam Coghlan-Murray, Leinster, is tackled by Finn Russell, left, and Ruaridh Jackson, Glasgow Warriors
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

The good news for Leinster came in the shape of a return to the top of the Pro12 courtesy of balancing the books with Glasgow, who beat them in Scotstoun in September. The bad news arrived on Friday in the captain's run which not only ruled out Luke Fitzgerald from last night, but killed off his slim chances of squeezing into Joe Schmidt's squad for the Six Nations game with Italy on Saturday.

"It's just the same ab strain – the same stomach injury," Leinster manager Guy Easterby said. "It was unfortunate because he was very, very close. We are just erring on the side of caution because of the time he took to come back from the injury. He played last week and had a slight recurrence. We thought he'd be okay to play, but we were just being a little bit cautious."

Marty Moore also went off with what appeared to be a hand injury, but a Leinster spokesman maintained he was "all good".

Fitzgerald's absence did, however, open the door for Sam Coghlan Murray getting his first RDS start of the season and he took full advantage with a fine performance.

His partner on the other wing, Darragh Fanning, flitted between both sides of the ledger, yet picked up the man of the match award. On the debit side his defensive error opened the door for Richie Vernon's second try in the first half, on 23 minutes, but he was celebrating just before the break when a lengthy period of pressure ended with him finishing in the corner after lovely hands from Zane Kirchner.

It was a game that started really well only to suffer a bit from sheeting rain and a strengthening wind as the half developed.

By the end of 40 minutes the home team – with a stronger scrum, which weakened when Moore went off, and better half-backs in Eoin Reddan and Ian Madigan – were 21-15 ahead having got a great start after just six minutes with a fine finish by the impressive Noel Reid.

Glasgow started very directly in the second half, punching holes to open a gap for Nico Matawalu. Their lead lasted until Rhys Ruddock got over from a maul on 63 minutes, and despite a late penalty from Russell – they could have gone for the corner, as there were only four minutes left by the time he hit it – Leinster dominated till the final bell.

Scorers – Leinster: D Fanning, N Reid, R Ruddock try each; I Madigan 3 pens; 2 cons. Glasgow: V Richie 2 tries; N Matawalu try; R Finn 2 pens, 2 cons.

Leinster: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, F McFadden, N Reid, S Coghlan-Murray (D Hudson 75); I Madigan, E Reddan (I Boss 50); J McGrath (M Bent 73), S Cronin (R Trauss 50), M Moore (M Ross 50), L Cullen (capt), M McCarthy, R Ruddock, J Murphy, S Jennings (D Ryan 68)

Glasgow: P Murchie; T Seymour (L Jones 65), R Vernon (M Bennett 74), F Russell, N Matawalu; R Jackson, C Cusiter (H Pyrgos 68); G Reid (J Yanuyanutawa 50), P McArthur (F Brown 69), E Kalman (J Welsh 50), T Swinson, J Gray, J Eddie, J Strauss (L Nakarawa 65), R Harley (T Holmes 65)

Referee: N Owens (Wales).

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