Late Hogg penalty seals fate of 'second best' Leinster
Glasgow 22 Leinster 20
Leinster will go into their second round tie of the Pro12 league against Scarlets this weekend seeking a confidence-restoring win after losing to Glasgow at Scotstoun on Saturday with a dramatic stoppage-time penalty goal.
After fighting back from a weak first-half performance that left them 19-3 adrift, Leinster scored two second-half tries and a penalty to take a 20-19 lead with full-time in sight. But in the final play they conceded a penalty at the breakdown in stopping a Glasgow score, allowing the Warriors’ Lion Stuart Hogg — a replacement on Saturday — to kick for goal and rescue his side from an undeserved defeat.
It was a cruel way to lose the match but with Glasgow winning the try count 3-2 and playing exhilarating rugby in the first half, defeat might have been harder to take for the Warriors.
“We were probably second best for most of the game but it was a tremendous effort from the lads to put ourselves in with a shout. Full-time goes and we were in front, and to lose is cruel,” admitted the Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor. “We weren’t very good in the first half. They took their chances. We were disappointed at half-time. But then to put ourselves within a point of winning the game was massive.
“Glasgow are a fantastic squad, very well coached and very difficult to beat at Scotstoun. We knew how tough a challenge it was going to be. We’ll get a few of the (international) boys back in the next couple of weeks and we’ll be the better for it.”
The narrow defeat wasn’t the way Isaac Boss had wanted to mark his 100th appearance for Leinster.
“We didn’t deserve to win. We almost got there in the end but we know we’ve got a lot to work on. We weren’t able to hold on to the ball and their line breaks allowed them to capitalise. We’ve simply got to retain possession for longer periods of time,” said the Leinster scrum-half.
Boss made way for Luke McGrath midway through the final quarter and the replacement certainly took his chance to enhance his growing reputation, his clever play helping Leinster score what seemed to be the winning try. Namesake Jack McGrath also impressed in the front row when he came off the bench to replace Cian Healy.
Another who took his chance was Ian Madigan, who came off the bench after only 42 seconds of play after inside centre Noel Reid sustained an ankle injury.
“The loss of Noel Reid was a bit of a setback,” said Boss “It was unfortunate for Noel. He’s a good player for us, but having the likes of Ian Madigan coming on meant we definitely didn’t lose anything at all. He did a couple of good kicks to the corner. We’ve got good strength in depth, so whoever comes on can make a difference.”
Warriors’ dazzling handling game at times brought its reward with a try by out-half Peter Horne after a good break by Alex Dunbar and a clever overhead pass from the Scotland wing, Tommy Seymour. The conversion by Henry Pyrgos put the Warriors 7-0 ahead.
Tries before half-time by Johnny Gray and Josh Strauss, and a conversion by Pyrgos raised the Glasgow tally to 19 points but penalties either side of the interval by Madigan and Jimmy Gopperth stopped the rot and gave the visitors belief.
And that belief was turned into points after Leinster kicked to the corner from a penalty before setting up a forward drive that ended with Jack McGrath claiming his side’s opening try.
Gopperth converted and the outside-half then added the extras to a try by replacement lock Tom Denton made by a massive touch-finder by full-back Zane Kirchner and a costly miscalculation by
Glasgow at the subsequent line-out. Incredibly, Leinster had achieved the transformation from likely losers to potential match-winners. All they had to do was protect their single-point lead for the final four minutes of play.
Glasgow, however, rediscovered their earlier zest and fought their way back into the visitors’ 22m area before launching a series of close-range forward drives. Inevitably, Leinster conceded a penalty at the breakdown and their fate was decided.
Glasgow Warriors: P Murchie; T Seymour, M Bennett, A Dunbar (S Hogg 48, L Jones; P Horne (S Lamont 54), H Pyrgos (N Matawalu 60); A Allan (G Reid 52), F Brown (P MacArthur 54) , E Murray, (R de Klerk 64), L Nakarawa (T Swinson 64), J Gray, R Harley, C Fusaro (A Ashe 60), J Strauss.
Leinster: Z Kirchner; F McFadden, B Macken, N Reid (I Madigan 1), D Fanning; J Gopperth, I Boss (L McGrath 64); C Healy (J McGrath 45), S Cronin (B Byrne 68), M Ross (t Furlong 52), B Marshall (T Denton 52), M McCarthy, D Ryan, S Jennings (K McLaughlin 70) , S O’Brien.
Referee: N Owens (WRU).