By Tadhg Peavoy at the RDS
Five-try Leinster have dispatched Glasgow Warriors with ease in their Heineken Cup Pool 3 clash at the RDS.
The Irish province stormed to a 31-6 half-time lead, courtesy of tries from Rob Kearney, Eoin O’Malley (2) and Gordon D’Arcy. Jonathan Sexton kicked 11 first-half points, while two Duncan Weir penalties got Glasgow off the mark.
The second half was a dour affair, dominated by Glasgow, but the Scottish team couldn’t break Leinster’s solid defence. They finally crossed late on for a try from replacement scrum-half Henry Pyrgos. But a late Isaac Boss try gave Leinster the last word.
From Leinster’s opening phases of the match, Devin Toner and Sean Cronin delivered carrying shunts, but the ball was lost forward. From the ensuing scrum, Glasgow won a penalty and opted to kick for goal. They drew the opening points of the game, as Weir hammered over the kick from near halfway.
The lead didn’t last long as Leinster kicked down Glasgow’s throats and Stuart Hogg yielded to pressure as he knocked on. Leinster seized on the loose ball and after several phases of retention Sexton kicked to the right corner, where Isa Nacewa collected and popped inside for Kearney to crash over the whitewash. Sexton made no mistake with the conversion.
As the game ebbed and flowed, Leinster won a penalty from a collapsed Glasgow scrum and opted to kick for the Scottish team’s corner. From the lineout the Lions got a tasty maul grunting and forced a penalty as Glasgow dragged down the Irish pack. A surprising miss from Leinster’s number ten, Sexton, let Glasgow off.
It was Leinster who again forced a Glasgow error minutes later, with Warriors again infringing at the maul and Sexton stepping up to atone for his earlier miss.
A quarter of the match in, Chris Cusiter departed as a blood sub for Pyrgos. Moments later Toner took out Ali Kellock in the lineout and was yellow carded. Weir was precise with the penalty from just outside the 22.
Right from the following kick-off, Glasgow were penalised for holding on at the ruck and Leinster took a quick one, with Sexton darting for the left corner. He was kept out, but Leinster smashed Glasgow repeatedly, with quick, deep bursts at the line. Eventually, a huge carry from Jamie Heaslip – who needed three defenders to bring him down – created space for O’Malley to dart over under the sticks. Sexton added the easy extras.
As Glasgow creaked, Leinster excelled. A Heaslip pick from a scrum put Warriors under huge pressure in their own 22, before Leinster spun wide left and O’Malley again burst through the defence. It was far too easy for the second centre as he shrugged off the cover and crashed over the tryline for his double. Sexton’s extras put the score at a hefty 24-6 lead and made a mockery of Toner’s earlier sin-binning.
Glasgow simply couldn’t contain Leinster as they romped home for another try just before half-time. A maul, a Sean O’Brien break, an injection of pace and a pass from Nacewa and over went D’Arcy. Sexton’s conversion left Glasgow in dire straits, trailing 31-6 at the interval, while Leinster had the bonus point in the bag.
The second half began with little action as Leinster coasted and Glasgow attempted to gain a foothold in a game that was looking beyond them. Cian Healy’s introduction for Heinke van der Merwe was the standout moment of the early exchanges.
The field position and possession was all Glasgow, as they hammered at the Leinster line and turned down kicks at goal in their desire for a first try. But Leinster refused to wilt and Warriors eventually gave away a penalty for holding on at the ruck before Shane Jennings was introduced for O’Brien.
Glasgow kept on coming as the home team sat back and soaked up the pressure. The Scottish side created superb space out right near the hour mark, but a poor pass led to Tommy Seymour knocking on in the Leinster 22 and killing off Glasgow’s best chance of the game thus far. Soon after, Joe Schmidt brought on Fionn Carr for D’Arcy, with Nacewa moving to the centre, in the hope of changing the dynamic in midfield.
The game dithered into the last quarter as neither side could dominate and just after the hour Schmidt made a trio of changes: Richardt Strauss for Cronin, Boss for Eoin Reddan and Ian Madigan for Sexton. Rhys Ruddock entered the fray for Kevin McLaughlin shortly after.
Glasgow continued to dominate the second half and entering the final ten minutes a super burst from Hogg down the right broke the first line of defence, but his inside pass to Seymour wouldn’t go to hand and, once more, the attack was extinguished.
The try that Warriors’ second-half pressure deserved finally came as Troy Nathan cut open the Leinster defence in midfield, drew in three tacklers, and put Pyrgos into space to dive over for the five-pointer; Weir converted the score.
It was merely consolation for Glasgow, however, as Leinster saw out the rest of the game camped in the opposition half, controlling possession and running down the clock.
The injury-time grandstand finish came for the Irish team, as Jennings seized on a loose ball in the Glasgow 22 and flicked up for Boss to race home under the posts, leaving Madigan an easy conversion.
Man of the Match: Jamie Heaslip.