Leinster left it until the last minute of the game to come from behind and defeat Connacht 17-14 in Saturday evening’s Magners League clash at the RDS to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points…
Speaking after the game a frustrated Michael Cheika said: "Over the balance of play I think they probably deserved to win. They dominated the contact area but I was pleased that we showed good character to get into a position where we could win the game.
"It’s gonna make for some hard viewing and if we think we can play like that again then we have another thing coming. They dominated the contact area and it’s like we lost in the dressing-room."
The visitors got off to a dream start when former Leinster winger Fionn Carr sprinted through the Leinster rearguard to touch down in just the 2nd minute. Miah Nikora added the points and Connacht led 7-0. Jonathan Sexton kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points two minutes later, but the respite was temporary as Connacht turned the knife and were further rewarded when Carr crossed for his second try after 22 minutes.
Nikora added the conversion again and in brilliant sunshine in the RDS the home side were straring down the barrel.
Credit to the mental fortitude of Leinster, a superb Shane Jennings break found Eoin Reddan whose pass to Shaun Berne unlocked the Westerners’ defence and enabled the impressive Rob Kearney to race clear to score on the half hour mark.
Trailing 14-8 at the interval Leinster needed a reaction and got it once more from the boot of Sexton who added his 42nd strike to a 70th mintue effort which levelled the scores.
Unsuccessful drop goal attempts on either side almost snatched the win before reland out-half Sexton stepped up to complete the sweetest of kicks in the closing minutes of the game 40 metres out to extend Leinster’s lead at the top of the Magners League to four points ahead of the trip to Thomond Park next Friday night.
LEINSTER SCORERS: R. Kearney (1 try), J. Sexton (3 penalties, 1 drop goal)
CONNACHT SCORERS: F. Carr (2 tries), M. Nikora (2 conversions)
15: Rob Kearney
14: Girvan Dempsey
13: Fergus McFadden
12: Shaun Berne (Eoin O’Malley, 71)
11: Isa Nacewa
10: Jonathan Sexton
9: Eoin Reddan
1: Stan Wright
2: John Fogarty (Bernard Jackman, 64)
3: Mike Ross (CJ van der Linde, 47)
4: Leo Cullen CAPTAIN
5: Malcolm O’Kelly (Devin Toner, 64)
6: Rhys Ruddock
7: Shane Jennings
8: Stephen Keogh (Paul Ryan, 27-31)
REPLACEMENTS NOT USED: Paul O’Donohoe, Simon Keogh
15: Gavin Duffy CAPTAIN
14: Brian Tuohy
13: Aidan Wynne
12: Keith Matthews
11: Fionn Carr
10: Miah Nikora
9: Frank Murphy
1: Brett Wilkinson
2: Adrian Flavin
3: Robbie Morris
4: Mike McCarthy
5: Bernie Upton
6: Mike McComish
7: Johnny O’Connor
8. George Naoupu
16: Sean Cronin
17: Jamie Hagan
18: Michael Swift
19: Andrew Browne
20: Conor O’Loughlin
21: Ian Keatley
22: Troy Nathan
REFEREE: Jerome Garces (FFR), ASSISTANT REFEREES: Simon McDowell (IRFU), Jude Quinn (IRFU), 4th OFFICIAL: John Montayne (ARLB), 5th OFFICIAL: Gordon Murray (ARLB), TMO: Peter Ferguson (IRFU)