Two tries from Devin Toner and Luke Fitzgerald helped Leinster dispatch provincial rivals Connacht by 30-20 at the RDS this evening.
In a game of contrasting fortunes for both sides it was Leinster’s more street wise mentality that ultimately made the difference, while Connacht will be kicking themselves that they let an 8 point lead at half time slip.
In a open first half it was the home side who got the first try of the game. A good break from fly half Ian Madigan split the Connacht defence and after quick hands from the Leinster pack it was second rower Devin Toner who crashed past the Connacht defence to score.
That try would prove to be the highlight of the first half for Leinster as Connacht took the game to the home side. Connacht struck back on the half hour mark when Ray Ofisa ghosted past the static Leinster defence to put the away side back in front.
Connacht continued to take the game to Leinster and got their rewards before half time when Brian Tuohy, who was excellent for Connacht, went on a mazy run that cut at the Leinster defence to send the away side 20-8 up at the break.
Leinster needed half time and came out with a new attitude in the second half and Isa Nacewa kept chipping away at the Connacht lead as the away side continued to give away needless penalties which kept the Heineken Cup champions in touch.
The turning point of the game came on the 64th minute mark when Leinster managed to convert all their pressure into a try when Luke Fitzgerald benifited from some good play from Leo Auva’a, who’s initial break created the space for Fitzgerald to cross the line.
That try took the wind out of Connacht and though they tried to come back into the game Leinster’s defence was not for parting and they knocked back the men from the west each time they tried to break.
Fly half Ian Madigan wrapped up the game on the stroke of full time with a lovely drop goal to send the home fans happy as his side dispatched Connacht and go into the domestic break with a win that gives his side confidence and momentum for the rest of the campaign.
Speaking after the game Joe Schmidt said ” We are delighted to scramble the win. I thought some of the experienced guys like Isa (Nacwea) stood up. Our scrum in the second half was also a big weapon.”
His Connacht counterpart Eric Elwood was ruefully wondering what might have been having watched his side loose a healthy looking half time lead.
“We showed in patches the type of rugby that we want to play. We didn’t really manage the game in the second half the way we wanted to. It’s disappointing”