Leinster 17 Glasgow 15
The twin-pronged pursuit of silverware continues for Leinster, but only just, as they were made to sweat by an ambitious Glasgow outfit that a relieved coach Joe Schmidt admitted he was glad to see the back of.
The entertaining Warriors offered a very significant threat to the RDS party and were knocking on the door right to the last second.
An attritional game left a mark that will extend into the week as Brian O’Driscoll had to be replaced in the 13th minute after suffering a back spasm, while Gordon D’Arcy was helped from the fray late on with a suspected tear of his troublesome calf.
Seán O’Brien didn’t come through a late fitness test on his calf problem while there were heavy knocks too for Cian Healy (winded), Richardt Strauss (knee) and Fergus McFadden (shin).
Schmidt is confident most, if not all, will be available for Friday’s Amlin Challenge Cup final even if the medical staff have to get the “glue and sticky tape” out.
“We can piece together a team for next week and then the week after, when we’re just delighted we’re not going to be on holiday.”
The beach was always a possibility as Glasgow rattled Leinster early on with their aggressive running. DTH Van Der Merwe was just held up after only four minutes and time and again, the Warriors got close to the opposition line.
Having snatched badly at an early effort, Jonathan Sexton gave Leinster an undeserved lead from a penalty but the brilliant Niko Matawalu darted over for a Glasgow try in the 15th minute, converted by Stuart Hogg.
Matawalu was magnificent throughout, his fast hands, quick feet and raw power used in trademark Fijian fashion.
Rob Kearney did remarkably well to hold up rampaging prop Ryan Grant over the line soon after but when Hogg landed a 23rd minute penalty, there could be no questioning the merit of the Warriors’ 10-3 advantage.
A brainless push on Devin Toner from the restart was all Leinster needed though. Sexton found touch and from the lineout, Jamie Heaslip pounded over the line.
Matawalu was sin-binned soon after and Sexton slotted the subsequent penalty. His chip just before half-time refused to sit up for Isa Nacewa with the line gaping, however and it was 11-10 at the break.
The second half was a real arm wrestle but two Sexton penalties – bringing the out-half to just a point shy of a 1,000 for Leinster – looked to have settled the affair. That was to reckon without Glasgow and Matawalu. By this stage, the 24-year-old had been relocated to the wing.
A thrilling run and behind-the-back blind pass helped set up a lineout from which Ryan Wilson found Mark Bennett with a sumptuous one-handed quarterback-style offload for the U20 international to crash over less.
Suddenly we were facing extra time and with Glasgow leading the try-count two-to-one, there was a possibility of Leinster going out if they didn’t score.
That was all dependent on Hogg slotting the conversion of course but the full-back missed on the near side and Leinster held on.
“It was a really frustrating night” conceded Schmidt. “I think the platform we didn’t really have… we missed a few lineouts where if you don’t get those you don’t get access to play off and then you don’t get any sort of momentum.
“I think Glasgow are a super side I think I said the last time they were here that I didn’t want to see them again.
LEINSTER: R Kearney; F McFadden, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, I Nacewa; J Sexton, I Boss; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; L Cullen, D Toner; K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip.
Replacements: A Conway for O’Driscoll (13); S Cronin for Strauss (ht); J Hagan for Ross (62); I Madigan for D’Arcy (68); J McGrath for Healy (73); R Ruddock for Jennings (73).
GLASGOW: S Hogg; S Maitland, S Lamont, A Dunbar, DTH Van Der Merwe; P Horne, N Matawalu; R Grant, P Macarthur, J Welsh; T Swinson, A Kellock; J Strauss, J Barclay, R Wilson.
Replacements: R Harley for Swinson (14-24); M Low for Grant (26-33); Harley for Strauss (36); R Jackson for Maitland (61); T Ryder for Kellock (61-67); E Kalman for Grant (62); M Bennett for Horne (67); Ryder for Swinson (67); H Pyrgos for Van Der Merwe; F Brown for MacArthur (73).
Referee: P Gauzere (France).
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