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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 22 May, 2018

Pro12: Leinster tough it out to claim win over Dragons

Leinster were made to work for the win, but tries from Aaron Dundon and Noel Reid sealed victory.

John Cooney is tackled by Dragon's Richie Rees.
John Cooney is tackled by Dragon's Richie Rees.
Image: ©INPHO/Gareth Everett

A LATE YELLOW card for replacement prop Jack O’Connell meant Leinster were left clinging on to a 19 -23 lead away to the Dragons tonight, but hold on they did.

Ireland’s eastern province had ran into what might have been a comfortable 13 – 23 lead after making the most of Adam Jones’ second half sin-binning with tries from Aaron Dundon and Noel Reid.

Jason Tovey’s boot and some feverish breakdown work ensured Dragons would never be left far behind.With Leinster down to 14, the hosts almost regained their half-time lead at the death, but the white defence scrambled onto a loose ball from a five-metre scrum and claimed the hard-fought four points.

Along with collective frustration after entering half time 10 – 6 down, out-half Jimmy Gopperth must be feeling it on a personal level after missing a drop-goal, a kickable 35 metre penalty and having a try ruled out by the TMO.

After he and Tom Prydie had traded penalties, Gopperth opted to go route one with a Garryowen rather than allow the hosts stymie their progress by attacking with the ball in hand.

That decision brought Leinster’s best move of the night as Luke Fitzgerald jinked forward after picking up the loose and Zane Kirchner grubbered the ball into the corner on the next phase.

Noel Reid collected the bouncing ball and looked to have timed a perfect offload to let Gopperth crash over the try-line, but the TMO rightly ruled the score.

YouTube credit: RaboDirect Pro12

Four minutes later, the Dragons had a 10 -3 lead thanks to a brilliant counter-attack which brought them from a scrum outside their own 22 into the opposite corner.

Leinster responded well and threatened the line at the other end before Gopperth narrowed the gap to  a chorus of boos on the half time whistle.

The 10s would trade scores again after the break, but Jones’ 57th minute yellow card invited Leinster forward and it wasn’t long before Dundon forced his way over the line in the shadow of the posts.

YouTube credit: RaboDirect PRO12

The killer score arrived four minutes later as Zane Kirchner, making his full debut, found a gap in midfield and exploited the absence of cover with a simple offload to Reid who cantered over.

YouTube credit: RaboDirect PRO12

Tovey added penalties either side of O’Connell’s yellow card to ensure a grandstand finish. Luke Fitzgerald’s pace and cover work ensured the Dragons would take no easy score after another thrilling break from their 22.

The hosts felt they should have been awarded a late try after Jonathan Evans quick-tapped a penalty and dived for the line only to be called back and on the following scrum, the black scrum coughed up the ball and Leinster came away with possession and the win.

VIDEO: Back-peddling scrum sets up stunning Dragons try

Which Irish rugby legend has the Fota cheetah cub been named after?

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Sean Farrell

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