Clinical Leinster too good for Glasgow
MATCH REPORT: Leinster went back above Ulster at the top of Conference A after continuing their unbeaten start with a 32-19 win over Glasgow Warriors.
The reigning champions went over three times in a typically clinical first half display before Michael Bent’s second half score wrapped up their fourth bonus point from as many matches this season.
Glasgow scored three well-worked tries themselves but spurned other opportunities to eat away at Leinster’s lead and slipped to their third defeat in four matches this season.
Leo Cullen’s men, by contrast, have now won their last 23 PRO14 matches.
After an end-to-end opening 10 minutes, Leinster drew first blood through an excellent opening score.
Harry Byrne surged through a gap in midfield and handed Jimmy O’Brien a neat offload to send the full-back under the posts for a try which Byrne converted.
Back came the Warriors, who were right in the contest in the early stages and deservedly drew level when George Horne spotted a gap off the back of a ruck and darted over following a strong carry from skipper Ryan Wilson.
Byrne’s penalty nudged Leinster back in front midway through the first half and the visitors went on to dominate what remained of the opening period.
Inspired quick thinking from Luke McGrath brought Leo Cullen’s men their second score, the scrum-half catching the hosts napping by taking a quick tap and go from a penalty five metres out and touching down.
Byrne again added the extras and Leinster’s first half work wasn’t done, with Scott Penny breaking off the back of a dominant rolling maul to score their third on 37 minutes.
This time Byrne’s conversion slid wide – the first kick Leinster have missed all season – but the visitors still held a commanding 22-7 lead at the break.
Glasgow raised hopes of a stirring comeback by scoring within three minutes of the restart, D’arcy Rae joining forces with his fellow forwards to charge over after Niko Matawalu made the initial hard yards.
Pete Horne’s conversion reduced the deficit to eight but Leinster hit back and sealed their bonus point on 54 minutes.
Rory O’Loughlin’s superb run laid the foundations and when Huw Jones was sin-binned for deliberate offside at the ruck which followed, Leinster immediately made their numerical advantage count as prop Michael Bent went over for his second try in as many games.
Warriors twice saw promising attacking lineouts turned over as they sought a way back into the game and they gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Tom Gordon spun off the back of a maul to dot down with seven minutes to play.
But Brandon Thomson’s conversion missed the target and Harry Byrne made no such mistake from a late penalty to stretch the winning margin to 13 points, ensuring Leinster’s remarkable unbeaten run goes on.
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Horne, Rae, Gordon
Cons: Horne 2
Tries: O’Brien, McGrath, Penny, Bent
Cons: Byrne 3
Pens: Byrne 2
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Pete Horne, 9 George Horne, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Hamish Bain, 4 Rob Harley, 3 D’arcy Rae, 2 Grant Stewart, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Chris Fusaro, 20 Fotu Lokotui, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ratu Tagive.
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Tommy O’Brien, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 7 Scott Penny, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Tom Clarkson, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Dan Leavy.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown, Dunx McClement (both Ireland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)