Leinster 40-21 Glasgow Warriors

A brave second-half fightback from Glasgow Warriors ultimately yielded no reward in Dublin this evening, as Leinster emerged victorious by 40-21 in a nine-try rollercoaster at the RDS.

Tries from Thomas Gordon, Rufus McLean and Huw Jones proved in vain for the visitors, with Adam Hastings’ contentious red card moments before half-time one of the match’s major moments.

As has become the custom from the defending champions, Leinster took little time to get themselves going in the early evening sunshine. Having turned down a kickable penalty in favour of the five-metre lineout, Harry Byrne’s speed of thought saw the fly-half evade the tackle and dive over from close range for the game’s opening score. The conversion of his own try saw the home side lead 7-0, with just two minutes on the clock.

The lead was doubled just seven minutes later, as Leinster made their pressure tell once more. A cross-kick from Byrne was taken by Cian Kelleher, only for Cole Forbes to take the Leinster winger out in the air. The Glasgow debutant was shown a yellow card by referee Frank Murphy, with a penalty try forthcoming to boot.

Yet with almost their first foray into the Leinster 22, the Warriors served notice of their attacking capabilities. A superb line from Jones saw the centre slice through the Leinster defence, only to be dragged down five metres out. Undeterred, his offload was brilliantly gathered by Gordon, as the flanker crossed for the third successive meeting with the Irish province. Adam Hastings converted, bringing the Warriors back to within seven.

The hosts would finish the opening quarter on the front foot, however, powering over for their third try on the 20-minute mark. A half-break from Byrne took the home side to within five metres, before Scott Penny barged over to touch down for a try that – when converted – took the score to 21-7 in the home side’s favour.

Despite the deficit, the visitors looked lively when the ball was in hand; young back-three trio McLean, Forbes and Ollie Smith each looked dangerous, with the former almost crossing from a delightful delayed ball by Hastings.

Then came the match’s primary talking point; rising to claim a high ball, an overbalanced Hastings caught Cian Kelleher’s face with his boot. Despite the Glasgow fly-half looking at the floor at the time of contact, referee Frank Murphy saw fit to show Hastings a red card and reduce the visitors to 14 men.

To compound matters, Leinster would cross for their fourth try on the stroke of half-time. Once more it was Penny who provided the finishing touch, powering over from a quick tap to score his second of the night. David Hawkshaw – on for Byrne – converted, giving the hosts a 28-7 lead at the interval.

Head Coach Danny Wilson acted at the break, bringing Ross Thompson into the match in response to Hastings’ dismissal, whilst also introducing Gregor Brown for his club debut. Playing with a renewed vigour, the Warriors struck immediately. It was Grant Stewart who provided the spark, the hooker’s footwork and pace beating four defenders in the wide channels before he offloaded. On hand to collect was McLean, with the Scotland U20 star racing over untouched from the 22 for his first professional try. Thompson bisected the uprights with his first kick of the night, and the visitors were on the march.

It wasn’t long before the Warriors were roaring once more, throwing the match wide open by bursting through for their third try. With advantage in hand, Jamie Dobie’s wide pass found Jones, who powered his way over under pressure from Scott Fardy to touch down. Once more Thompson was flawless from the tee, and suddenly the Warriors were eying a famous comeback.

Even when their backs were firmly against the wall, the visitors stood tall. Excellent defence from the pack inside their own 22 saw the Warriors repel their hosts time and again, before the disruptive pair of Rob Harley and Richie Gray earned a crucial turnover from a five-metre maul.

Try as they might, the Warriors just couldn’t find the decisive breakthrough, however. Forbes and McLean each found themselves felled by a desperate defensive effort, whilst the Leinster defence held firm under wave upon wave of pressure.

With 10 minutes to play and chasing the game, Glasgow were reduced to 13. After taking exception to what looked like a knee to the head of Thompson, TJ Ioane was shown a yellow card for an illegal shoulder charge, and from there Leinster went to work.

The clinching score came with 73 minutes on the clock, and it was a simple numbers game for the hosts. Working the ball to the edge allowed Dave Kearney to feed skipper Luke McGrath for a run-in, Hawkshaw converting for a 35-21 lead.

Chasing the game from deep, the Warriors were hit with a late sucker punch by their hosts to cap off a frustrating night in Dublin. Turnover ball in midfield left Leinster with a four-on-one, with Kelleher the man to finish out wide. The conversion was astray, but it would be of little consequence in the final analysis.

live commentary 5:30 PM Sunday 28 Feb 2021

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Kick-off 5:30 PM

Leinster

Glasgow Warriors

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