Newport Gwent Dragons 16 Leinster 26
Leinster scored a crucial victory away to the Newport Gwent Dragons as they put the heat on Ulster and Ospreys above them in the Magners League table.
The fourth-placed Dubliners had trailed 13-10 at half-time, but rallied on the back of Jonathan Sexton’s 13 points and a second-half penalty try to steal the win.
The Dragons only try arrived after 19 minutes when Adam Hughes ran 60 metres to score and while Isaac Boss responded soon after the hosts held a slender lead at the break.
But Sexton’s boot got Leinster back ahead before Aled Brew’s sin-binning proved crucial as Leinster grabbed a penalty try while he was sidelined to allow them the breathing space to clinch victory.
Leinster were bolstered by the return of number of their Ireland internationals after their RBS 6 nations victory over England and they were needed against a lively Dragons outfit.
Irish outside-half Sexton, who was the architect of his country’s Dublin win last weekend, got Leinster in front with an early penalty and it did not look too good for the Dragons when stand-off Jason Tovey, whose form has been patchy of late, missed a reasonably easy shot at goal.
But all that changed on 19 minutes when a tremendous tackle from Brew on a flying Luke Fitzgerald saw the ball run loose.
Scrum-half Wayne Evans shipped the ball to Hughes on the left wing and the speedy centre raced a 60 metres past the trailing defence to score.
Tovey’s conversion gave the Dragons a four-point lead but it only lasted a few minutes when Leinster had the Welshmen on their own line.
Scrum-half Boss grabbed the ball at a ruck and skilfully placed it on the line. Video referee Tony Rowlands, after a few viewings, confirmed the touchdown and, with Sexton converting, the teams were level.
A second penalty for the Dragons stand-off gave the hosts the lead again but the lively game stepped up another notch in the second half.
Hughes came close again to a try when he was tackled just short and could not stretch far enough to touch down.
Then Sexton added two penalties to take his side into a 16-13 lead, the second after Brew had tripped an attacker in his 22 and was sent to the sin-bin.
Video referee Rowlands was called to adjudicate again when Tovey produced an outstanding tackle on Luke Fitzgerald to prevent a Leinster score in the corner.
Referee Andy McPherson awarded Leinster a penalty try when the Dragons scrum collapsed and wheeled on their line, giving Sexton an easy conversion under the posts.
Another Sexton penalty on the hour from 45 metres put Leinster 10 points ahead and they looked odds-on to grab the win.
Brew had a brilliant chance to grab another home try when number eight Toby Faletau put him away with 30 metres to go only for the wing to drop the pass.
Leinster gained more of the territory as the game entered its final 10 minutes and only a couple of last-ditch tackles denied the Irishmen more tries.
Full-back Isikeli Nacewa almost got a third Leinster try when he dashed to within five metres of the line only to be hauled down short.
Leinster had done enough, however, to seal the victory.