RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster prove too smart for Connacht
Last Updated: 04/01/14 10:34pm
Gordon D'Arcy: late try for Leinster
Leinster left it late to clinch a 16-8 victory over a youthful Connacht side at the Sportsground.
Following up on their 19-6 victory over Ulster a week ago, Matt O'Connor's men came good in the second half in Galway thanks to two Jimmy Gopperth penalties and a 73rd-minute converted try from Gordon D'Arcy.
Fionn Carr's second try in three league games had Connacht 8-3 ahead at the break, with Ian Madigan and Jack Carty exchanging penalties.
But with their bench having an impact, the visitors hit the front for the first time in the 63rd minute and replacement Gopperth set up D'Arcy's first try since last April to seal the win.
After early stalemate it took a brilliant break over halfway from Robbie Henshaw to light up proceedings.
With Brian O'Driscoll shooting up out of defence, Henshaw did well to evade Dave Kearney's grasp before passing wide for former Leinster winger Carr to charge over in the right corner past Madigan's covering tackle.
Carty was unable to convert and full-back Leader missed two long-range penalty efforts in quick succession, while the crossbar denied Madigan on the half-hour mark.
In a game of few line-breaks, ex-Connacht hooker Sean Cronin got Leinster on the front foot before an Andrew Browne infringement allowed Madigan to open the visitors' account at the third attempt.
But Connacht responded on the stroke of half-time, Matt Healy and Browne gaining good ground on the left and Carty rewarded them by finding the posts from a subsequent penalty.
Connacht maintained their lead during the early stages of a rain-hit second period, with Leinster having to bide their time.
Gopperth, who came on as part of a trio of replacements, cut the gap to 8-6 with his first penalty attempt in the 57th minute.
The New Zealander then added another six minutes later following a Jamie Heaslip charge from a scrum to give his side the lead.
A late tackle by the Leinster captain on Parks then led to a kickable penalty at the other end, but the latter missed the target on the near right side.
Heaslip, who was fortunate to avoid a yellow card for his shoulder-led challenge, was central to a strong spell of carrying that preceded D'Arcy's decisive try.
Leinster built from a lineout maul on the left and Heaslip, Devin Toner, man-of-the-match Jordi Murphy and Dominic Ryan all took the ball on before Gopperth slipped a pass away for the supporting D'Arcy to nip in behind the posts.
Connacht felt the final pass was forward but television match official Jude Quinn ruled otherwise, and Gopperth's simple conversion closed out a satisfying finish for Leinster.
Fri 24th Apr
Edinburgh37 - 0Zebre
Ulster26 - 10Leinster
Sat 25th Apr
Connacht13 - 31Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues23 - 31Ospreys
Munster30 - 19Treviso
Dragons10 - 29Scarlets
Fri 8th May
Dragons0 - 0Edinburgh
Leinster0 - 0Treviso
Ospreys0 - 0Glasgow Warriors
Sat 9th May
Ulster0 - 0Munster
Zebre0 - 0Connacht
Sun 10th May
Scarlets0 - 0Cardiff Blues
Sat 16th May
Cardiff Blues0 - 0Zebre
Connacht0 - 0Ospreys
Edinburgh0 - 0Leinster
Glasgow Warriors0 - 0Ulster
Munster0 - 0Dragons
Treviso0 - 0Scarlets
RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R12
Zebre claimed their first win over Italian rivals Treviso with a 14-12 victory at Stadio XXV Aprile.
The Ospreys completed a Rabodriect PRO12 double over rivals Scarlets to go into second place in the table.
Ulster closed the gap on Munster at the top of the PRO12 standings to six points after beating the leaders 29-19.