Kicking key for resurgent Leinster

LEINSTER put their Heineken Cup campaign back on track, not just winning away but collecting a try bonus point into the bargain at Hughenden yesterday.

The result pushes them into second place in their pool, still behind Bath, but at least still in touch.

They had Felipe Contepomi to thank for their victory in a match that hinged on the two fly halves. While his opposite number Dan Parks was having a nightmare with the boot, missing six out of seven shots at goal, the Argentinian calmly slotted all his penalties and though he missed a couple of touchline conversions, his all-round control allowed Leinster to emerge as comfortable victors.

“It was a huge relief,” said Michael Cheika, the Leinster coach, afterwards. “We needed that after what happened against Bath. It was not a perfect performance by any means but what mattered was the result more than the way it was achieved.”

He knew that had Glasgow taken even a reasonable percentage of their scoring chances, it could have been a much tougher battle, but the Scots were at their most inconsistent and profligate with an early try chance going a-begging as well as the kicks.

Cheika drafted in Emmett Byrne to the front row in place of Will Green, who was suffering from a chest infection, while Ireland prop Reggie Corrigan was given the honour of leading out the visitors to mark his 50th appearance in the tournament.

Leinster had already tasted such Glasgow hospitality when Contepomi slotted his first penalty and though Parks did manage to slot one kick from dead in front of the posts, the visitors were soon back in front. It was Brian O’Riordan who sparked it with a quick tap penalty that took him on a solo run almost to the Scots line and when the ball was recycled, there were four men spare on the right with wing Keiran Lewis getting the touchdown.

Glasgow again clawed their way back to parity with centre, Graeme Morrison, getting the first of his two tries, but by the break Leinster were in control, Contepomi adding a second penalty and seeing flanker Ciaran Potts break away from a rolling maul to dive over for a 16-8 half time lead.

There were some anxious times early in the second half with Morrison reaching the line again, but Contepomi settled Leinster them as he took the ball round the fringes of a ruck and danced his way through a crowded defence for a solo try he converted himself.

Leinster were now in complete control without extending themselves, but Gordon D’Arcy soon added some magic to the mundane as a moment of genius brought up the bonus point. There was nothing obvious on as he took the ball with players all round but he spotted a gap behind the defensive line, chipped into it and raced through to collect the ball and stroll over.

The home side briefly threatened a comeback with Andy Henderson, the centre, crossing but they could not sustain the pressure as Leinster took a final grip on the game and saw it to its by then inevitable conclusion.

The challenge, admitted Cheika is now to build on this away triumph. “It is a huge challenge for us to qualify,” he said. “It all hangs on our back to back matches against

Bourgoin in December, we have to win at home and make sure we pick up something away and then we should be back in the hunt.”

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Morrison (28, 46), Henderson (76). Con: Gregor; Pen: Parks (16)

Leinster: Tries: Lewis (19), Potts (40+1), Contepomi (60), D’Arcy.

Conversions: Contepomi (2). Pen: Contepomi (9, 37, 57)

GLASGOW: G Staniforth; H O’Hare, G Morrison, A Henderson, C Shaw; D Parks (capt) (C Gregor, 61), G Beveridge (S Pinder, 59); K Tkachuk (S Corsar, 50), S Lawson, L Harrison, T Barker, C Hamilton (D Turner, 54), P Dearlove (G Hayter, 50), J Barclay (S Swindall, 68), J Beattie.

LEINSTER: G Dempsey; K Lewis, G D’Arcy, S Horgan, R Kearney; F Contepomi, B O’Riordan (B O’Meara, 66); R Corrigan (R McCormack, 74), B Jackman (B Blaney, 41), E Byrne, M O’Kelly, B Williams (B Gissing, 51), C Potts (C. Jowitt, 47), K Gleeson, J Heaslip.

Referee: C White (England)

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