Leinster ensure qualification after win at Glasgow

Glasgow 16 Leinster 23

Glasgow 16 Leinster 23

Defending champions Leinster marched through to the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup with victory over Glasgow Warriors at Firhill.

Since the opening draw with Montpellier, Leinster have now won four straight games and host the French side in Dublin next Saturday safe in the knowledge that they cannot be overhauled at the top of Pool Three, with their place in the quarter-finals secure.

Rob Kearney and Isaac Boss scored second-half tries as Leinster finally overcame the Warriors’ stern defence, while Jonathan Sexton kicked one penalty and Fergus McFadden two penalties and two conversions.

Flanker Sean O’Brien was sin-binned four minutes from time, but Leinster’s defence held firm to seal their progress.

The Warriors, who earned a losing bonus point, were always within striking distance, but Leinster’s class told.

Duncan Weir kicked 11 points, while replacement Colin Gregor touched down for a try.

The Warriors entered the match needing to beat the Dubliners and win next Saturday’s match at Bath to have any hope of progressing at the expense of the reigning champions.

Leinster had not lost in European competition since December 2010, but were behind after six minutes when Weir successfully converted following a scrum penalty.

Glasgow continued to make inroads into the visitors’ territory, but were undone by errors.

Stuart Hogg beat Rob Kearney in an aerial challenge for Weir’s up and under, but the ball was lost forward a phase later.

Weir scuffed a drop-goal attempt as Glasgow sought further reward for their early dominance, but Leinster’s defence stood firm.

Glasgow captain Alastair Kellock was penalised for not releasing the tackler, but Sexton missed the chance to level the scores after 25 minutes before making amends from halfway three minutes later.

Glasgow continued to spread the ball left and right, but the white wall – led by back-row tyros O’Brien, Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip – proved impenetrable.

Hands in the ruck inside the Leinster 22 granted Weir the opportunity to restore the lead and the fly-half made it 6-3.

Kellock went to the blood bin, with Tom Ryder coming on in his place and immediately tasked with defending the Glasgow line from wave after wave of attacks.

Hooker Sean Cronin thought he had found an opening but was stopped short by Richie Gray and Glasgow scrambled clear.

McFadden brought Leinster level at the interval with a penalty after Glasgow killed the ball at a ruck.

Glasgow, with Kellock back in the action, found themselves behind for the first time in the opening moments of the second half.

Hogg hesitated when fielding Sexton’s cross-kick and Rob Kearney scooped up the ball to touch down in the corner. McFadden converted.

Weir kicked Glasgow four points behind after Leinster infringed at the breakdown. The visitors, though, were always dangerous.

An O’Brien burst freed Gordon D’Arcy and McFadden went in pursuit of the line, only to be stopped short.

Glasgow tighthead Ed Kalman was penalised and McFadden booted the visitors into a 16-9 lead entering the final quarter.

Chris Cusiter, Gray and John Barclay were withdrawn in quick succession as Glasgow looked for fresh legs to breach the Leinster defence.

Following a lineout close to the visitors’ line, Glasgow kept the ball tight before Gregor, on for Cusiter, wriggled over in the corner.

Weir converted from the touchline to level with 16 minutes remaining.

Leinster responded swiftly, laying siege on the Glasgow line and Boss squeezed through under the posts for a converted score with 10 minutes remaining.

O’Brien was shown a yellow card for infringing on the floor 10 metres out from his own line, reducing Leinster to 14 men for the final four minutes but, despite concerted Glasgow pressure, the Dubliners held firm to advance.

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