RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster go top with late bonus-point win
Last Updated: 20/02/14 10:25pm
Leinster moved provisionally top of the RaboDirect PRO12 standings after beating Cardiff Blues 34-22 on Thursday.
In an entertaining first-half, the Irish province took a 17-12 advantage into the interval via Jack Conan and Richardt Strauss tries, while Jimmy Gopperth added seven points from the tee.
Cardiff responded with touchdowns from Gareth Davies and Kristian Dacey in the opening period before Davies and Gopperth traded penalties after the break.
However, scores through Michael Bent and Eoin Reddan sealed the victory, despite a consolation try by the hosts' Dan Fish.
With their international players away on Wales' duty, Cardiff have struggled recently and succumbed 54-13 to PRO12 high flyers Munster two weeks ago.
Against another of the league's top teams, the visitors' opening to the game suggested that a thrashing was on the cards.
Firstly, Conan picked the ball up off the base of the scrum to touch down before Strauss went over following an excellent passage of play.
To their credit, the Blues came back from the initial onslaught and reduced the deficit when Davies spotted a hole in the Leinster rearguard to cross for a superbly taken score.
Although Gopperth extended the lead to 10 points via a penalty, a searing Fish break ended in Tom Denton being yellow carded and Dacey going over the whitewash to leave them just five adrift at half-time.
Gopperth and Davies traded three-pointers at the start of the second period before powerful surges from Tadhg Furlong and Rhys Ruddock resulted in prop Bent crossing from close range.
Reddan then went over to effectively secure the win - as well as the bonus-point - although Fish's well-taken try gave Cardiff Blues a consolation score.