We went minute-by-minute as Brian O’Driscoll made his much anticipated return from injury for Leinster against tough Welsh opposition.
Good evening all, welcome to our minute-by-minute blog from the RDS where all eyes are on one man and one man only.
But enough about BOD, (for now) there are 29 other guys who could have a bigger impact on this game.
Brad Thorn, World Cup medal and all, will make his debut alongside Leo Cullen, who is also returning after surgery.
Here are those teams in full:
Leinster: I Nacewa; D Kearney, B O’Driscoll, F McFadden, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, I Boss: H Van Der Merwe, R Strauss, N White; L Cullen (capt.) B Thorn; R Ruddock, D Ryan, L Auva’a.
Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, J Hagan, D Browne, K McLaughlin, J Cooney, E O’Malley, F Carr.
Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D BIggar, K Fouali’i: P James, R Hibbard, A Jarvis; R Jones, AW Jones (capt.); T Smith, J Tipuric, G Stowers.
Replacements: S Baldwin, R Bevington, A Jones, I Evans, J king, R Webb, M Morgan, T Isaacs.
The Pembroke road is backed up. Cars are turning back.
Ballsbridge is swamped, the scarf vendors and ticket touts might have expected a slow night only a few weeks ago. But this is a big big game.
We’re five minutes from kick off and Leinster have gone back to the dressing room.
All eyes were on one man only, barring a slightly less than perfect pass to Isa Nacewa, I’d say he’s good to go!
Here they come.
The roar and stamping at the RDS is visceral.
Madigan kicks off and Leinster have an immediate penalty for offside, 22 meters out.
Should be no trouble.
McFadden slots it away.
It seems someone in the Leinster setup was at the O2 last night.
Chase the sun pumping out on the tannoy after the score.
The crowd goes wild.
O’Driscoll gets the ball on halfway: steps left, steps right – into a gap and makes a couple of meters but is taken down.
Bet that feels good.
We’re level. Dan Biggar slots a chance from 22 meters, just as straightforward as McFadden’s.
Brad Thorn is picking balls from the middle of the lineout like I pick biscuits from the middle shelf of the cupboard.
The Ospreys end up offside again and McFadden, from a tricky enough angle on the left side of the pitch… misses the near upright.
The home side just starting to find a rhythm. A nice loop run between Madigan and McFadden to put Nacewa in space was the highlight so far.
On BOD-watch, he arrived at the ruck first and in familiar pose: legs wide, body bridged across the man, speeding up ball. Splendid.
Another scrum penalty goes Leinster’s way. Ryan Bevington penalised for going straight down under Nathan White.
Another kickable one , this….
Chase the sun is playing and Phil the Power is nowhere in sight. You know what that means: no mistake from Fergus McFadden.
Impressive stuff from Madigan. Biggar sent a Garryowen his way, the taller Welsh number 10 challenged in the jump, but Madigan comes away with the ball and McFadden puts them back in their opponents’ red zone.
Another penalty to Leinster and another three points for Fergus McFadden.
From an angle on the halfway line you wouldn’t think he had the range… he’s full of surprises this boy. A 53 meter bonus.
Luke Fitzgerald is penalised for offside, he’s had a quiet game so far.
Biggar sets the ball up three meters from the right touchline and misses to the right.
TRY: A Leinster line-out on 22 goes awry, straight across the top, but Madigan is alive to the possibility and takes the loose ball all the way to the try line.
McFadden converts, but the Ospreys win a penalty direct from the restart and Biggar reduces the gap to 10.
Another decent break from McFadden ends with him penalised for holding on. That brings an end to the first half.
16-6 and this thing is just getting started.
Uh oh, Bernard Dunne is repeating everything he says in Irish again.
Got eight minutes to spare? Feast your eyes on Drico’s greatest hits instead.
YouTube credit: fooledyoass
Thorn in my side now belting out from the speakers, what other player-related pop classics could you suggest?
I’ll be doubly impressed if you can get Leo Auva’a in there somewhere.
We’re underway again and after collecting a restart, Dave Kearney breaks after his grubber kick. He’s making up for lost time in that first half.
Back over on the left, Peter Fitzgibbon awards yet another penalty the way of the hosts.
McFadden dissects the posts for the fifth time.
Ospreys are enjoying a solid spell inside the Leinster 22 now, they gave a penalty away a minute ago, but are back with a scrum in front of the posts.
Penalty, easily converted by Biggar.
TRY: A superb try from the Welsh. From halfway, they put Fussell in space on the right, tackled by Madigan he offloaded to Dirksen who in turn fed George Stowers with an unchecked run to the line.
Biggar converts to reduce the gap back to a single score. Fully deserved.
There goes the first round of substitutes and Drico is still on the field.
Brad Thorn is replaced by Damian Browne and Leo Auva’a is withdrawn for Kevin McLaighlin.
The mood changes instantly and Leinster come close after Nacewa give a reverse pass to Kearney. They are held up over the line a phase later.
NO TRY: Not sure why we were with the video ref for this one, Van Der Merwe barged under the posts. There is an arm underneath him, but not enough to stop the whole ball hitting grass, apparently it was.
To make matters worse, O’Driscoll leaves the field. He lasted 57 hard minutes before Eoin O’Malley provided the relief.
Jamie Hagan is down injured after that phase, we could have uncontested scrums here.
As O’Driscoll get his breath back he seems to be sharing a joke with a few toddlers lucky enough to be sitting behind him.
Jamie Hagan is being taken off on a stretcher, hopefully just a precaution.
In all the delay, I nearly forgot Leinster have a penalty. Nailed it, play the music!
Another penalty for the home side and Fitzgibbon has had enough, Justin Tipuric is away to the naughty step.
Undeterred by the loss of their best forward, the Ospreys attack.
They gave the home support quite the fright too as Dirksen looked set for the white line only to be whistled up for a block in the move.
The white jerseys seeing out the sin bin period in the right part of the field. They’ve claimed a line-out inside the red zone and are rumbling through the phases.
Sean Cronin is getting his back slapped from all his burly mates in the pack. The former Connacht gets in where it hurts and forces the Ospreys to hold onto the ball illegally. A reprieve for the home side.
Tipuric is back on the field.
Leinster look nervous, the crowd sing to encourage every tackle but the white waves keep coming.
Richard Hibbard has gone close to a score in the corner and we’re with the TMO..
TRY: Try given and Leinster are behind.
Drama here as Biggar’s conversion hit the very top tip of the post. The judges thought for a second, looked at eachother and raised their flags.
The crowd are extremely unhappy.
The clock is red and the Ospreys have a scrum that will be that.
Full time and Leinster’s long unbeaten streak comes to an end.
The crowd left even before the final penalty was awarded.
A tremendous performance from the Welsh side, Leinster will hope for better form against their countrymen in two weeks’ time.