We went minute-by-minute as Leinster looked to re-take the summit of the Pro12 against a Connacht side celebrating John Muldoon’s 300th cap.
Good evening, your looking fierce well. Were you out in the sun?
There’s more inter-provincial rugby afoot as the great John Muldoon will march out for the 300th time in Connacht colours.
If you’re looking for some Saturday night entertainment on the box, you should tune in to TG4 from 19.30 and enjoy. If you’re out and about, stick with us and we’ll keep you updated.
A quick update on how the table has shaken up with the results so far in gameweek 20.
Ospreys’ defeat to Cardiff means that Munster and Leinster are both securely fastened into a home semi-final place. And despite Ulster’s inability to grab any sort of control of this afternoon’s match in Munster, they are not yet out of the running for the post-season.
Scarlets, as we type, are on the way to a win over Dragons so they will be in the top four by the time we kick off in Galway.
Here are the runners and riders. Leinster did not take the same approach as Munster to this inter-pro week, they’ve rested the big names, keeping them cool in cotton wool before next weekend’s trip to France.
15 Tiernan O’Halloran
14 Niyi Adeolokun
13 Bundee Aki
12 Craig Ronaldson
11 Danie Poolman
10 Jack Carty
9 Kieran Marmion
1 Denis Buckley
2 Dave Heffernan
3 Finlay Bealham
4 Quinn Roux
5 Andrew Browne
6 Eoin McKeon
7 Jake Heenan
8 John Muldoon (captain)
16 Shane Delahunt
17 JP Cooney
18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19 Sean O’Brien
20 Naulia Dawai
21 Caolin Blade
22 Steve Crosbie
23 Eoin Griffin
15. Zane Kirchner
14. Adam Byrne
13. Rory O’Loughlin
12. Noel Reid
11. Dave Kearney
10. Ross Byrne
9. Luke McGrath
1. Cian Healy
2. James Tracy
3. Mike Ross
4. Ross Molony
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Dominic Ryan
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Rhys Ruddock (captain)
16. Sean Cronin
17. Peter Dooley
18. Michael Bent
19. Ian Nagle
20. Peadar Timmins
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Tom Daly
23. Barry Daly
As TG4 broadcast an interview with John Muldoon about his 299 appearances so far, it’s well worth having a look at Connacht’s own feature on their captain fantastic.
You still have time before kick-off.Source: Connacht Rugby/YouTube
KICK-OFF: Carty kicks off, dropping his start on the edge of Leinster’s 22. The yellow shirts try to run it out, but Ruddock is pinged for holding on.
Perfect start for the home D.
PENALTY! Connacht 3 Leinster 0 ( Ronaldson ’2)
Leinster’s line-out malfunctions and Connacht given good chance to attack, but poor handling out the back lets the guests off the hook for now.
Terrific response from Leinster, keeping the ball i hand to attack Connacht and they force the breakthrough.
TRY! Connacht 3 Leinster 5 (Kirchner ’6)
Ross Byrne unable to add the conversion from a tough angle on the right. Leinster lead by two.
TRY! Connacht 3 Leinster 12 (Adam Byrne ’10)
A howler from Connacht as they try to get their offload game going, but end up gifting the ball to Leinster’s flying Kildareman. He’s only too happy to race the 60 metres and dot down under the posts.
PENALTY! Connacht 6 Leinster 12 (Ronaldson ’12)
The centre eases the pain of that concession a little, bringing the champions back within a score.
TRY! Connacht 11 Leinster 11 (Poolman ’18)
Terrific from Tiernan O’Halloran, Leinster shot up in the middle and Connacht used the fullback to expose their narrow bunch. He tucked the ball under one hand and accelerated round the corner.
He was caught in the Leinster 22 and the ball threatened to get slow for Connacht, but Carty picked out a gorgeous cross-field kick for Poolman to take on the run and canter in around the posts.
Ronaldson added the easy conversion.
Connacht 13 Leinster 12
PENALTY! Connacht 13 Leinster 15 (R Byrne)
We have a ding-dong battle out west. Fine Leinster attack, using their forward power to great effect and earning a shot for Byrne.
TV cameras pick up Joe Schmidt just as Carty drills a kick down the touchline, but it doesn’t make it out.
Undeterred, the out-half makes up for it the next time the ball is in his hands in open play, a terrific drive that bounces out of play to pin Leinster back.
PENALTY! Connacht 16 Leinster 15 (Ronaldson ’29)
Ronaldson is making sure that Connacht are getting the rewards for some solid bouts of pressure in this game.
The team Leinster have sent out is perfect for this contest, they’re playing for places in Europe next week and making this an intense match-up.
TRY! Connacht 16 Leinster 20 ( O’Loughlin ’35)
Luke McGrath pulls out a huge break 30 metres from the line. Connacht scramble to deny him, but Leinster go right, then wide left and find the space with Rory O’Loughlin the man to finish off.
PENALTY! Connacht 19 Leinster 20
This has been a terrific contest, brimming with intensity. Connacht just a single point down thanks to Ronaldson, but they’ll be kicking themselves at having gifted Adam Byrne his try.
Kieran Marmion’s left eye is closing up with a shiner, but he’s starting the second half with the rest of ‘em.
A long set of phases from Connacht to get the second half under way. They rack up 16 before Kieran Marmion kicks in behind for the 22.
We go back to a penalty advantage for a high tackle on O’Halloran.
COnnacht go for the corner from the penalty. The maul is used as a base for the attack, nice slick service from Marmion to a good variation of carrier.
One of them is Muldoon, he comes close to dropping the ball on he right flank, but regathers before it hits the deck.
Dave Kearney was the man bumped off by Muldoon on that last set, and he has a face holding in a lot of emotion as he is helped off the field. The wing has only just returned from a long stint on the sidelines.
TRY! Connacht 24 Leinster 20 (Heffernan ’50)
TRY! Connacht 24 Leinster 25 (Ruddock ’53)
I was just about to tell you all about a brilliant piece of skill from Tiernan O’Halloran to set Kieran Marmion away and a flat pass that bounced forward for Dave Heffernan to finish when Leinster go right up the other end and strike back.
Another brilliant flex from JVDF brings his side within inches of the line and Rhys Ruddock carries the rest of the way.
Ross Byrne is on target with his conversion too, so Leinster are three points to the good.
Connacht 24 Leinster 27
Josh van der Flier is the difference between these sides, he hares after a loose ball and puts Connacht under pressure five metres in front of their posts.
The home side to well to set the ruck though, and then they go doing what only they can do: try to play rugby behind their own line. They go wide right and Dawai makes yards up the touchline.
Another great period from Connacht, patiently mounting pressure… oh, why did I use that word!
Carty flings a pass to the left and it’s easily intercepted by Adam Byrne and Leinster clear their lines.
TRY! Connacht 24 Leinster 34 ( Barry Daly ’69)
There’s the final nail for Connacht. Leinster are going back to the top of the table despite sending the second string to Galway.
A loose pass went to ground in midfield and Daly put a toe on the ball and had all the time he needed to canter in under the posts.
Cruel moment for Tiernan O’Halloran. Connacht again look to play out from behind their try-line, TOH goes at Cronin, leaves him for dead and presumes Bundee Aki is the figure just behind his right shoulder. It’s not, it’s the touch judge and the ball bounces sadly into the advertising hoarding.
Bundee gets another reprimand for chatting to the ref and despite John Muldoon’s ‘I have to agree with him’ Leinster take the penalty in front of the posts.
PENALTY! Connacht 24 Leinster 37 ( R Byrne ’76)
Connacht mounting one last attack here and, fittingly it ends with a JVDF steal.
FULL-TIME: Connacht 24 Leinster 37
That’s all from me today, folks. Thanks for sticking with our inter-pro liveblogs. One home win, one away, but not the story we wanted for this man tonight.