Leinster moved to the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 after winning an absorbing six-try contest with play-off rivals Glasgow Warriors…Matt O’Connor post-match reaction…
Ian Madigan converted Rhys Ruddock's 63rd-minute try and kicked 13 points in all as Matt O'Connor's men took advantage of leaders Munster's defeat at the Scarlets to climb into first place.
Returning to the RDS where they lost to Leinster in last year's semi-finals, Glasgow Warriors gave it their all in pursuit of only their second victory in 18 visits to Dublin.
Madigan accumulated 11 points and Noel Reid and man-of-the-match Darragh Fanning broke through for tries as Leinster took a 21-15 lead into half-time.
Glasgow showed their attacking capabilities with two Richie Vernon tries and an injury-time penalty from Finn Russell made it a six-point difference.
Niko Matawalu burrowed over from a ruck for the Warriors' third try with Russell's conversion putting them a point clear after 51 minutes.
But Leinster's pack eventually broke the Scots' resistance with flanker Ruddock muscling over for the decisive seven-pointer on a wet night in the capital.
Speaking afterwards, Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor said: "Glasgow are one of those sides that are good with ball in hand. They are very direct and they put you under pressure in those close channels.
"Relative to the amount of changes we've made in the past month, there are going to be blokes who aren’t quite comfortable with each other. That will get better.
"Once we get a little bit more combination consistency, in terms of selection, we'll tighten that (defence) up, no dramas.
"Ian Madigan's performance tonight was very, very good. His goal-kicking was exceptional. In really tough conditions, he kept us in the game and was ultimately a significant part in us getting the result. Marty (Moore) is pushing all the time (for selection), he’s getting better and better.
"With Darragh (Fanning), there are some really good quality blokes ahead of him. But he’s getting better every time he pulls on the shirt which is pleasing.
"Noel (Reid) looks very comfortable in that 12 shirt. Again, a couple of good blokes in and around him in that position but he's certainly putting his hand up and demonstrating just what he can deliver.
"There’s a little bit of separation between the top two (Leinster and Munster) and the rest (in the league table). Home semis are important and we’ve got the opportunity to control our destiny."
Both sides were forced into changes before kick-off, with the luckless Luke Fitzgerald replaced in the Leinster line-up by Sam Coghlan Murray and Ed Kalman taking Mike Cusack’s place in the Glasgow front row.
Leinster hit the front in the sixth minute, Sean Cronin offloading out of a midfield tackle for Reid to dart into space and he broke Peter Murchie’s tackle to raid in beside the posts.
Madigan converted but Glasgow were back level by the 12th minute as Vernon touched down after being fed by Ruaridh Jackson, who took advantage of Jack McGrath’s missed tackle.
Russell’s successful kick tied things up at 7-all before Leinster retook the lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to a Madigan penalty.
But a Warriors try from only their second visit to the hosts’ 22 stung O’Connor’s side who were made pay for some sloppy defending.
Tommy Seymour tested the Leinster rearguard out wide before the Scottish outfit recycled swiftly for big centre Vernon to barge over to the right of the posts. Russell failed to convert this time.
Leinster used their forwards to steady the ship, with the accurate Madigan knocking home two penalties to make it 16-10.
The province sensed a try before the interval and after Ruddock went close from a maul effort and Eoin Reddan was stopped short, slick hands from Madigan and Zane Kirchner released winger Fanning for a simple finish in the right corner.
Madigan’s conversion attempt fell narrowly wide to the left and the Warriors squeezed in a late three-pointer from Russell, who punished Jordi Murphy for going offside.
Josh Strauss bulldozed his way through the Leinster defence to give Glasgow the first sniff of a try in the second half, and television match official Alan Rogan confirmed the grounding by Matawalu from a close-in ruck.
Russell’s kick made it 22-21 to the visitors as they looked for a repeat of their 2011 win at the RDS.
Again though, Leinster’s durable forwards – boosted by an experienced bench – grew in influence as following 12 power-packed phases of carrying in the Scots’ 22, Ruddock managed to stretch over in the right corner.
Madigan topped off the try with a fine kick from the right and although Glasgow responded with a late Russell penalty for a losing bonus point, Leinster wore down the clock with a strength-sapping 22 phases under Isaac Boss’ baton.
LEINSTER SCORERS: N. Reid (1 try), D. Fanning (1 try), R. Ruddock (1 try), I. Madigan (2 conversions and 3 penalties)
GLASGOW WARRIORS SCORERS: R. Vernon (2 tries), N. Matawalu (1 try), F. Russell (2 conversions and 2 penalties)
15: Zane Kirchner
14: Darragh Fanning
13: Fergus McFadden
12: Noel Reid
11: Sam Coghlan Murray (Darren Hudson, 75)
10: Ian Madigan
9: Eoin Reddan (Isaac Boss, 51)
1: Jack McGrath (Michael Bent, 72)
2: Sean Cronin (Richardt Strauss, 51)
3: Martin Moore (Mike Ross, 51)
4: Leo Cullen CAPTAIN
5: Mike McCarthy
6: Rhys Ruddock
7: Shane Jennings (Dominic Ryan, 68)
8: Jordi Murphy
REPLACEMENTS NOT USED: Tom Denton, Jimmy Gopperth.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: P Murchie; T Seymour, R Vernon, F Russell, N Matawalu; R Jackson, C Cusiter CAPTAIN; G Reid, P MacArthur, M Cusack, T Swinson, J Gray, J Eddie, R Harley, J Strauss.
REPLACEMENTS: F Brown, J Yanuyanutawa, E Kalman, L Nakarawa, T Holmes, H Pyrgos, M Bennett, L Jones.
REFEREE: Nigel Owens (WRU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: Stuart Gaffikin, Richard Kerr (both IRFU), CITING COMMISSIONER: Peter Ferguson (IRFU), TMO: Alan Rogan (IRFU).