Leinster sealed a 22-18 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons in Saturday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Rodney Parade and will face the Glasgow Warriors in next weekend’s play offs by virtue of the Scottish side’s victory over Connacht…
Some early pressure helped Leinster gain some early territory and a penalty gave Ian Madigan the chance to give the visitors the lead which he did after three minutes to make it 3-0.
Lewis Robling replied for the Dragons two minutes later to level the scores 3-3 before Madigan punished another home side indiscretion to help regain the three-point advantage after nine minutes and the former Blackrock College out-half added his third successful strike on 11 minutes to make it 9-3.
From the re-start Leinster pounced on some indecision and prop Nathan White chased a kick down the touchline though Wales international Toby Faletau defended the Dragons try-line.
The hosts then reduced the deficit with Robling’s second penalty, but Leinster roared back once more to continue the see-saw nature of the game before prop Jack McGrath started and finished a move involving good work Brendan Macken and Dominic Ryan inside the Dragons 22.
Madigan’s conversion made it 16-6 after 22 minutes and moments later Leinster, wearing their white away strip, almost scored their second try when Andrew Conway made a scything break but that attack was quelled.
Separate bursts from Devin Toner and then Brendan Macken punched holes in the Welsh side’s rearguard before a wonderful Damian Browne offload found Conway who was denied once more metres from the try-line.
An ambitious Madigan penalty attempt from the halfway line fell yards shy of the posts, but Leinster still took a ten-point advantage into the interval.
Dragons back Pat Leach almost snuck into the corner as the Newport based side rallied but some brave defending helped barge the replacement centre into touch.
Some bright outside back play created several opportunities and Madigan added to his individual points tally with a 64th minute penalty to extend Leinster’s lead to 13 points. Ireland Under-20 scrum-half Luke McGrath entered the fray to make his first senior appearance and moments later Madigan kicked his 17th point of the night to make it 22-6.
In the 77th minute, after a spell of pressure, Dan Lydiate crashed over from close in to reduce the deficit, with Adam Hughes adding the extras.
Right winger Will Harries snuck in to score in injury time, though Hughes’ conversion attempt fell wide of the posts, to bring the score to within four points but the referee blew the whistle and Leinster sealed a narrow but deserved win.
DRAGONS SCORERS: D. Lydiate, W. Harries (1 try each), L. Robling (2 penalties), A. Hughes (1 conversion)
LEINSTER SCORERS: J. McGrath (1 try), I. Madigan (5 penalties, 1 conversion)
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS:
15: Hallam Amos
14: Will Harries
13: Adam Hughes
12: Ashley Smith
11: Aled Brew
10: Lewis Robling
9: Wayne Evans
1: Nathan Williams
2: Sam Parry
3: Nathan Buck
4: Luke Charteris CAPTAIN
5: Rob Sidoli
6: Danny Lydiate
7: Lewis Evans
8: Toby Faletau
16: Steve Jones
17: Phil Price
18: Dan Way
19: Jevon Groves
20: Tom Brown
21: Jonathan Evans
22: Pat Leach
23: Jack Dixon
15: David Kearney (Darren Hudson, 64)
14: Andrew Conway
13: Brendan Macken
12: Noel Reid
11: Fionn Carr
10: Ian Madigan
9: Eoin Reddan (Luke McGrath, 69)
1: Jack McGrath (Heinke van der Merwe, ht)
2: Sean Cronin (Aaron Dundon, 64)
3: Nathan White (Jamie Hagan, 72)
4: Devin Toner (Mark Flanagan, 73)
5: Damian Browne
6: Kevin McLaughlin CAPTAIN (Jordi Murphy, 77)
7: Dominic Ryan
8: Leo Auva’a
REPLACEMENT NOT USED: Isa Nacewa
REFEREE: Marius Mitrea (FIR), ASSISTANT REFEREES: James Jones, David Jones (both WRU)