Leinster 34-34 Glasgow: Ding-dong Dublin drama

Stuart Hogg scored for Glasgow. Picture: Toby Williams

Stuart Hogg scored for Glasgow. Picture: Toby Williams

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The Six Nations may have thrown up some remarkable games last weekend and Leinster and Glasgow Warriors followed their example to produce a thrilling contest at the RDS last night. Both sides ran in four tries in a riveting game of open rugby and in the end the left the field unbeaten with three points each in the bag as the battle for home semi-final spots looks set to go down to the wire.

Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Boss (2), McFadden, Murphy. Cons: Madigan (4). Pens: Madigan (2). Glasgow: Tries: Hogg, Vernon, Bennett, Bryce. Cons: Horne (3). Pens: Horne, Bennett

But while Glasgow came with a late equalising try, they were the side with most to regret after letting a remarkable 20 points interval lead slip from their grasp on a perfect night in Dublin for running rugby. It looked as if Warriors would again suffer defeat to Leinster but Peter Horne kept his nerve to land a touchline conversion to tie the match six minutes from the end.

It was no more than Glasgow deserved after dictating matters for long periods. They looked set for a facile win when they led 27-7 at the interval but Leinster came storming back in the second-half and hit the front in the closing stages. Glasgow were unfortunate not to have a bonus point in the bag by half-time, such was their dominance over a Leinster side who struggled to get out of their own half.

But Gregor Townsend’s men were well worth their 27-7 interval lead after running in three converted tries in a superb display of attacking rugby. Leinster coach Matt O’Connor bemoaned the fact that his frontline Irish internationals were not released to play and they could have done with leadership on the field. Glasgow were not without their own troubles, losing out-half Finn Russell to injury before the game and by half-time teenage tighthead Zander Fagerson and Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg also had to go off injured. But it did little to halt the Scots against the champions of the past two years as Glasgow dictated matters from the outset with scrum-half Niko Matawalu once again controlling the game.

It was no surprise when they hit the front after eight minutes when strong running from Richie Vernon created the opening which was finished by Hogg.

Horne added the extras and made it 10-0 after 12 minutes when he landed a penalty from the left after his captain Al Kellock was taken out in a lineout.

Leinster finally got moving and pressed forward and while forays by Dave Kearney, Tom Denton and Mike McCarthy were well defended, the champions kept the pressure on. Good work by scrum-half Eoin Reddan, Shane Jennings and Jimmy Gopperth sent Fergus McFadden over for a fine try, which Ian Madigan converted to make it 10-7 after 25 minutes. But it was all Glasgow from there to the break and Leinster struggled to cope with their midfield runners.

Vernon got their second try nine minutes from the break after a good break down the right by Tommy Seymour.

Horne kept the scoreboard ticking over with the conversion and it got better for them five minutes from the interval when Mark Bennett ran through a sleepy defence for their third try.

Horne again converted and Glasgow continued to make the most of every opportunity with Bennett landing a penalty from 40 metres on the stroke of half-time to lead by 27-7 at the break.

It didn’t take Leinster long to hit back after the restart with replacement scrum-half Isaac Boss charging down a clearance from Glenn Bryce to score in the left corner less than a minute into the second-half. Madigan converted from the left and then added a penalty as they piled on the pressure to reduce the margin to 27-17 after 47 minutes.

Glasgow tried to regroup but indiscipline cost them dearly when Matawalu was binned for lashing out after he was held by Cian Healy. Leinster scored from the attack following Matawalu’s card in the middle of the field with Jordi Murphy slicing open the visitors’ defence and Madigan adding the conversion to cut the lead to 27-24 aftr 52 minutes.

Boss then showed all his experience to dummy and race through for his second try to net the bonus point as Madigan opened up a 31-27 lead with 25 minutes to go. Glasgow did not give up and were rewarded six minutes from time when they got their fourth try after going wide following a sustained bout of pressure for Bryce to score.

Horne, who threw a brilliant pass to engineer the score, kept his nerve to land the touchline conversion from the left and tie it at 34-34. Both sides had possession in a breathless finish but a draw was the fairest result.

Leinster: Kirchner; McFadden (Fitzgerald 53), Te’o (D’Arcy 72), Madigan, Kearney; Gopperth, Reddan (Boss 33); Bent (Healy 40), Strauss (Cronin 40), Moore (Furlong 53); Denton, McCarthy; Murphy, Jennings, Conan (Ryan 66).

Glasgow: Hogg (Bryce 39); Seymour, Bennett, Vernon (Braid 42), van der Merwe; Horne, Matawalu (Pyrgos 62); Allan (Yanuyanutawa 62), Brown (Strauss 67), Fagerson (Cusack 10); Swinson, Kellock (Gray 52); Hartley, Fusaro (MacArthur 47), Strauss (Ashe 59).

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