No-one knows if Glasgow had the 7-UP on ice yesterday evening at Scotstoun but, in the event, it wasn’t required. The club were going for a record seventh successive league win in the one season, but instead the Dublin visitors spoilt the party with a trademark gritty and effective performance.
Referee: N Hennessy
It was entertaining stuff, at least as far as 6-0 matches go, with Glasgow looking for the first try of the match in the final ten minutes and getting the crowd roaring their approval. With the clock ticking down the Warriors threw everything in to the attack and Peter Horne almost found a half gap but that attack, like every other one on the night, came to naught.
The home side spent long periods of the match stuck deep inside their own territory as the Leinster forwards did what Irish forwards do, the basics, very well. The visitors looked more muscular across the board, they didn’t make many mistakes and they gave out penalties with a parsimony that would have warmed even Ebeneezer Scrooge’s heart. They are three-time European winners, even if last night they were without half their first choice XV. It was 2006 when Leinster last beat Glasgow at home in the league.
The Warriors played their part in their own downfall not least when they missed three second-half penalties, two by Horne and one by Scott Wight, that would have won them this game.
Ruaridh Jackson was considered surplus to requirements by Andy Robinson this week and the fly-half showed why with a performance that included some nice touches and undoubted bravery in taking the ball to line, but interrupted all of this with several absolute howlers. The worst was a chip kick on his own 22 that came off the side of his boot and landed in grateful Leinster arms just five metres hence. Only a flying tackle by Tommy Seymour saved that turnover from turning into a try.
The big lock Tom Ryder was next up, earning a daft yellow card on 22 minutes just as his side looked like they may have weathered the worst of the storm, and he was followed into the bin by skipper Chris Fusaro in the second half. On an evening when throwing at the lineout would inevitably come under the spotlight, Glasgow lost one attacking opportunity in each half when they were few and far between for the home team.
The best chances fell to Leinster with the pick of them going to full-back Ica Nacewa who should have done better when the field opened up for the Fijian towards the end of the first half. A mixture of Peter Murchie and DTH van der Merwe managed to collar him in the corner and over-enthusiasm meant that Glasgow got out of jail thanks to a rare penalty from the man in the middle. At least the Glasgow breakaways were putting in a shift with Fusaro winning one vital turnover five yards from his own line and man-of-the-match Josh Strauss grabbing hold of another loose ball to lift yet another Leinster siege.
The crowd raised a cheer when Ryder was able to return to the fray with no more damage on the scoreboard than Ian Madigan’s early penalty. Around the same time Leinster were forced into a reshuffle when lock Quinn Roux injured his shoulder to be replaced by the giant figure of Devin Toner, while apprentice George Hunter replaced Tongan prop Ofa Fainga’anuku for Glagsow. For all their woes Glasgow were just three points adrift at the break.
The start of the second half typified Glasgow’s evening. The home side did well to recover their own kick only for Tim Swinson to drop a simple looking pass in the midfield. Without even checking his options Jackson then ran back Leinster’s clearance kick up the blind side when the visitors were short-staffed out wide.
Normal service was resumed with Leinster milking a penalty under the Glasgow posts and a yellow card for skipper Fusaro as well. With the rain coming in sideways Leinster’s six point lead looked like 60 and it looked even better when Horne sent one penalty wide of the posts and another right through them. It would have been a great goal, just not in this particular sport. Scott Wight, on for Jackson, took over the kicking duties but proved no more successful.
Scorers: Leinster: Madigan 2 pens.
Glasgow: Murchie, Seymour (McGuigan 53), Dunbar, Horne, Van der Merwe; Jackson (Wight 55), Kennedy; Fainga’anuku (Hunter 38)(Low 60), MacArthur (Gilliues 75), Cusack, Swinson, Ryder, Harley, Fusaro (Wilson 59), Strauss (Eddie 70).
Leinster: Nacewa, Kearney, Macken, Goodman, Carr; Madigan, Boss; McGrath, Dundon (Sexton 60), Hagan (Moore 67), Cullen, Roux (Toner 34), McLaughlin, Jennings, O’Brien.