Leinster Rugby V Glasgow Warriors
Leinster took another step towards finishing on top spot come the end of this Guinness PRO12 campaign after getting the better of Glasgow Warriors in one of the most dramatic finales of the season at the RDS Arena.Jonny Gray in action against Leinster
Dominic Ryan and Rory O’Loughlin scored within the first ten minutes as the hosts enjoyed an electric start in their final home game of the regular season – an effort that included a record-breaking score.
Peter Dooley ensured a third came before the break, but Warriors fought back with Adam Ashe’s try early in the second half while Lee Jones and Finn Russell crossed to put the Scots into the lead.
But it proved not enough in the most dramatic of circumstances as Leinster moved eight points clear ahead of Munster as Joey Carbery kicked the decisive penalty, with a home semi-final already guaranteed in their bid to lift the Guinness PRO12 trophy – all after the lights went out in Dublin.
However it was the Warriors who were on the board first as Peter Horne kicked three simple points from the tee to make the most of his side’s early pressure.
The rest of the opening stages belonged to the Irish side though, as a beautiful pass from Noel Reid set Adam Byrne away, with Ryan the man finding the gap to cross after just a few minutes.
Following that came a moment of Guinness PRO12 history, as O’Loughlin crossed after confirmation from the TMO – the 652nd score of the season, the most the competition has ever seen.
Glasgow were not going to give up in their bid for a strong finish to the campaign however, with Horne once again kicking expertly from the tee to close the gap to 12-6 from the ten-metre line.
Leinster responded in kind though thanks to Ross Byrne’s penalty, and a killer blow came five minutes before the end of the first half as Dooley crashed down when he profited from a maul off the lineout.
That gave the hosts the half-time lead at the RDS, but it was to be cut very quickly after the break as Ashe bundled over, once again rewarding a quick start to the half for the Warriors.
But Leinster’s bid for a bonus point was not to go without its reward as Zane Kirchner crossed on the hour mark with Reid and Byrne once again pulling the strings at the RDS for the bonus point.
Still Warriors kept pushing though, narrowing the gap to 28-23 as a superb break from Ali Price at halfway saw the ball eventually in the hand of Jones, with the wing making no mistake to set up a thrilling last 15 minutes.
And a superb turnaround was completed when the Scots took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes with some rugby deserving of taking the advantage.
Russell was the man to finish off a brilliant move, stretching and holding on to slam the ball onto the turf, converting his own kick to move into a 30-28 lead, with just five minutes left to play.
Leinster came back though as Carbery kicked a penalty with the clock rapidly ticking down, embarking on a one-point ball game.
But just as it looked as though Leinster would hang on to the win, Glasgow kicked a penalty deep into home territory, only for the turnover to lead to a huge slice of relief in Dublin.
Just as it seemed nothing else could add to the drama, the lights went out in the RDS Arena – with just 90 seconds left to play in a crucial finale.
When play eventually restarted Glasgow were in possession, but they couldn’t quite do enough to force the points, left on the wrong end of a 61-point thriller.