Glasgow Warriors 39
GLASGOW are still in control of their own destiny in PRO14 Conference A after a display of massive character saw them inflict a first home defeat of the season on Leinster. After going from six points ahead at half-time to half a dozen down with 15 minutes to play, the Warriors rounded the match off in style, scoring two late tries to complete a five-point victory.
That takes them three points clear of Munster again at the top of the conference, so they will go into the last game of the regular season against Edinburgh knowing that any kind of win will book them a home semi-final. They could conceivably draw or even lose yet still end up on top even if Munster beat Connacht in their own last game, but such permutations will be the furthest things from their minds when they line up against Richard Cockerill’s side.
Presuming Glasgow do stay on top, they will meet the winners of a quarter-final possibly between Ulster and Connacht. If they lose, they may have to meet Benetton or even Edinburgh again in a quarter-final for the right to go back to the RDS and face Leinster.
In a tricky, swirling wind at the Dublin venue, the Warriors were dealt an early blow when Chris Fusaro had to go off with a hip knock, but they opened the scoring with an Adam Hastings penalty after Ross Byrne had been yellow-carded for tackling Tommy Seymour off the ball as the winger chased a hack ahead. Leinster reacted well, however, to going a score and a man down, and soon took the lead when Dave Kearney scored an unconverted try in the left corner from a long, looping pass by Jamison Gibson-Park.
The Warriors had begun sluggishly by their standards, but soon burst into life. Hastings put them in front again when Caelan Doris was penalised for being offside, and then Sam Johnson finished off well after Ali Price broke clear from midfield, giving the stand-off a simple conversion. Johnson then had to be replaced by Pete Horne.
Back to 15 men, the home side enjoyed a lengthy spell on top, but the Glasgow defence held them at bay until four minutes before the break, when a penalty to touch eventually ended in Rob Kearney juggling his way over the line from a Ross Byrne pass, and the provider adding the two points. Having toiled for more than 30 phases before claiming that score, Leinster could have done with a breather, but Glasgow did not allow them to do so, and went further ahead right on half-time when Hastings floated a pass out to Tommy Seymour on the right wing. The stand-off’s conversion attempt went wide, but it was a satisfying 40 minutes for the visitors nonetheless.
Leinster emerged for the second half with a new front row, and replacement loosehead Cian Healy in particular was influential in a 32-phase move which culminated in Rob Kearney again scoring from a Ross Byrne pass. The No 10 added the two points and the home side were back in front.
It didn’t end there either. Using their rolling maul to bruising effect, the Irish side extended their lead and claimed the try bonus when they spread the ball wide for the Kearney brothers, who combined well with Jordan Larmour before Dave Kearney finished off.
The bonus point itself was irrelevant, as Leinster have had Conference B in the bag for some time, but the score was an ominous sign for the Warriors, who had barely threatened in the second half. After almost 25 minutes on the back foot, however, they burst into life. After Hastings sent a penalty to touch, they drove the lineout superbly, with Matt Fagerson completing the move and the No 10 converting to give his team a one-point advantage.
They did something similar from the next lineout too,the diffference this time being that Fraser Brown broke off the back when it was clear the maul would not reach the line on its own. George Horne carried the move on to within less of a metre of a line, and in the end Zander Fagerson forced his way over, with Hastings again converting.
That was the bonus point for the Warriors, too, and there was still time for another right at the death. After pushing hard in the dying minutes in search of the losing bonus, Leinster were forced back towards their own line, and with the clock in the red George Horne picked off a pass from the base of a ruck by Hugh O’Sullivan to dot down try No 5.
Leinster:R Kearney (A Byrne 62); J Larmour, J Tomane, R Henshaw (C Frawley 59), D Kearney; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park (H O’Sullivan 65); E Byrne (C Healy 40), J Tracy (S Cronin 40), M Bent (T Furlong 40), D Toner, J Dunne, J Murphy, S O’Brien (capt, M Deegan 59), C Doris.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; T Seymour, K Steyn, S Johnson (P Horne 20), N Matawalu (H Jones 66); A Hastings, A Price (G Horne 66); J Bhatti (A Allan 62), F Brown (G Stewart 76), Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Harley, C Fusaro (A Ashe 3, B Flockhart 62), M Fagerson.
Referee: M Mitrea (Italy).
Leinster: Tries: D Kearney 2, R Kearney 2. Cons: R Byrne 2.
Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Johnson, Seymour, M Fagerson, Z Fagerson, G Horne. Cons: Hastings 4. Pens: Hastings 2.
Scoring sequence (Leinster first): 0-3, 5-3, 5-6, 5-11, 5-13, 10-13, 12-13, 12-18 half-time, 17-18, 19-18, 24-18, 24-23, 24-25, 24-30, 24-32, 24-37, 24-39.
Yellow card –
Leinster: R Byrne 4-14.