Tuesday 12 December 2017

Second-stringers keep Blues on roll

Dragons 18 Leinster 22

Mike Brown

The boot of Ian Madigan proved the difference in Newport as Leinster escaped Rodney Parade with a narrow victory. The visitors raced into an early lead with a succession of Madigan penalties. Lewis Robling kept the hosts in it before young prop Jack McGrath crashed over for the decisive try.

The Dragons fought back in the second half as Dan Lydiate and Jevon Groves crashed over from close range, but it was a case of too little too late and the Blues can now look forward to Saturday's semi-final clash with Glasgow Warriors at the RDS.

With their place at the peak of the table secured, Joe Schmidt made wholesale changes to the side that edged out Clermont Auvergne last week, with an entirely new starting XV. Leinster were rocked by the news that Luke Fitzgerald requires neck surgery that will rule him out of the Pro12 play-off and the Heineken Cup final.

Madigan fired Leinster into an early lead with a pair of penalties either side of an effort from Robling. The Dragons fought back with a thundering break from Toby Faletau. Leinster did well to concede just the penalty and they extended their lead when McGrath crashed over. Madigan added the extras as Leinster went in at the interval with a 16-6 lead.

Madigan was on target with a pair of penalties to extend Leinster's lead to 22-6 after the break. The Dragons were given hope when Lydiate went over and Groves struck in the corner at the death, but the Blues held out

Scorers -- Dragons: D Lydiate, J Groves try each; Robling 2 pens, Hughes con. Leinster: J McGrath try; Madigan 5 pens, con.

Dragons: H Amos, W Harries, A Hughes, A Smith (P Leach, 40), A Brew, L Robling(J Dixon 70), W Evans (J Evans, 60); N Williams (P Price 66), S Parry (S Jones 66), N Buck (D Way, 60), L Charteris (Capt, J Groves 67), R Sidoli, D Lydiate, L Evans, T Faletau (T Brown 63)

Leinster: D Kearney (D Hudson 65); A Conway, B Macken, N Reid, F Carr; I Madigan, E Reddan (L McGrath 69); J McGrath (H Van der Merwe, 40), S Cronin (A Dundon 65), N White (J Hagan 62); D Toner (M Flanagan 71), D Browne; K McLaughlin (Capt, J Murphy 78), D Ryan, L Auva'a.

Referee: M Mitrea (FIR)

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