We’re going minute-by-minute for the Rabodirect Pro12 clash between Leinster and Llanelli Scarlets.
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Leinster 16 – 13 Scarlets
19:18 – 19.18 – Good evening and welcome to tonight’s liveblog.
It’s shaping up to be more than a decent match at the RDS as both the Scarlets and Leinster can welcome back some internationals who were largely out of the firing line for their country.
Here are the teams again:
Leinster: I Nacewa, D Kearney, E O’Malley, F McFadden, F Carr; I Madigan, E Reddan: J Mcgrath, S Cronin, J Hagan; D Browne, D Toner; K McLaughlin (Capt.) S Jennings, R Ruddock.
Replacements: R Strauss, H van der Merwe, N White, L Auva’a, D Ryan, I Boss, N Reid, B Macken.
Scarlets: D Newton, L Williams, G Maule (Capt) S Williams, A Fenby; S Jones, G Davies: R Jones, E Phillips, D Manu; S Timani, D Day; J Turnbull, J Edwards, K Murphy.
Replacements: C Hawkins, P John, P Edwards, D Walsh, B Morgan, L Davies, A warren, V Iongi.
19:31 – 19.31 – Kick off is fast approaching. It’s ladies night in Dublin 4.
On a separate note, I’m getting excited.
19:33 – 19.33 – Not a bad night for it.
Getting a bit chilly, but Leo is rousing an un-dampened crowd as we speak.
19:36 – 19.36 – Scarlets already on the field, here come the home side in blue.
Any predictions? Can Leinster make it 12 on the trot?
We’re under way.
19:40 – 19.40 – An early missed touch from Madigan has Scarlets rumbling into the Leinster 22.
Once the ball comes loose the welsh side probed from side to side. But couldn’t make it within 10 metres and the play ends with Nigel Owens calling a forward pass.
19:42 – 19.42 – Sean Cronin penalised for going off his feet 40 meters from goal.
Stephen Jones lining up his kick from the left side of the pitch…
19:44 – 19.44 – ..And he drills it with minimum fuss right through the middle of the posts.
Scarlets lead and Leinster haven’t gotten out of their half after seven minutes.
19:46 – 19.46 – Fionn Carr just blew my last line out of the water.
A little step on his own 10 meter line and he was blazing a trail to the Scarlets 22.
Cronin takes the ball into contact on the next phase and Murphy is penalised. Easy one to start for Fergus McFadden.
19:48 – 19.48 – Dave Kearney takes the restart and races back near halfway.
The home crowd are in full voice but it’s only temporary. Jamie Hagan is penalised for holding on a phase later and Jones is calling for the tee a second time.
This one though is well out of his range – it drops short and left.
19:52 – 19.52 – Neither side has copped on to Owens’ hot topic yet. Scarlets again penalised for holding on to the tackler. Madigan sends the penalty to the stand.
Leinster’s line-out is thrown crooked by Cronin.
19:56 – 19.56 – Good spoiling work from Devin Toner at the breakdown slows Scarlets ball on their 22 forces a knock on.
Much better territory for the hosts now and Kevin McLaughlin is the first to burst a hole, but the visitors clear a grubber kick.
19:58 – 19.58 – The hosts rumble forward again and this time they retain it in the maul.
it looks an inevitability and Jack mcGrath takes his time before opting to dive over the line.
It goes to the TMO…
20:00 – 20.00 – Ooh, the TMO had a better view than me. He’s judged it short of the line.
Leinster have a penalty and go back for another maul, but it’s lost forward.
20:04 – 20.04 – TRY: Scarlets escape to brilliant effect.
Manu steps through a ruck all too easily outside the Leinster red zone. Davies is on his shoulder and he in turn feeds the fullback, Newton, on his under the posts.
20:07 – 20.07 – Don’t poke the bear.
Leinster look scintillating when they get theball wide and come oh so close after a Nacewa break on halfway.
The kiwi fed Madigan who was tackled, but not held and he was instantly back on his feet and scrambling at the five meter line.
Devin Toner knocks on at the next phase and it’s another escape for Scarlets.
Only a matter of time before the blues get a maximum score here.
20:09 – 20.09 – Scrum Leinster: on the left wing of the Scarlets’ 22. The rumble of stamping feet comes from the new stand.
20:11 – 20.11 – And the visitors are pinged by Nigel Owens for wheeling the scrum around.
Second kick now for McFadden.
Difficult enough angle but he makes an absolute mess of it.
20:18 – 20.18 – It’s all gone a bit scrappy in the RDS and the ref is warning the two captains so I have time to update you on Ulster.
The northern province are over in Cardiff and the score 11 -11 just after half time.
Robbie Diack with the Irish side’s five-pointer there.
20:23 – 20.23 – Just approaching half time and both sets of 15 look like they’ll be happy enough to get in.
Leinster have butchered a few opportunities, but it’s not as if they haven’t turned things round in the second half before.
And just as I type, the whistle is blown and the blue jerseys come close to sprinting at the tunnel.
3-10, the Scarlets lead at half time.
20:33 – 20.33 – Not a good looking night for Ulster, Tom James has just added to an earlier score for the Blues and they lead 18 -11.
Ruan Pienaar is off the field.
But Leinster and Scarlets are back on it.
20:38 – 20.38 – TRY A little bit of international class from McFadden.
Fed by Madigan, the centre slammed on the breaks an picked a gap in between the Scarlets powering through two tackles on his way under the posts.
10 for Leinster, 10 for Llanelli, 10 for Fergus McFadden.
20:43 – 20.43 – CORRECTION: Ruan Pienaar is still on the field for Ulster. Ian Humphreys was yellow carded so Paul Marshall temporarily replaced Diack to let Pienaar play at number 10. It’s now 21-14 to Cardiff in that game.
20:48 – 20.48 – The try aside, Leinster still haven’t clicked into gear. The Scarlets again got into their 22, but a brilliant steal under the posts has Leinster back defending on half way.
20:50 – 20.50 – Richardt Strauss, Nathan White and Leo Auv’a are all on the field for the home side.
Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan and Rhys Ruddock make way.
20:54 – 20.54 – Chance for Dan Newton to put the visitors in the lead here. Jones has handed over kicking duteis
Nathan White was the man with the unwanted immediate impact on the game.
Newton makes no mistake, drilling it over from 39 meters.
Jones has since limped off the field, which explains why he didn’t kick.
20:55 – 20.55 – Leinster with a chance to hit back immediately, Day leaving the line out early.
McFadden missed an earlier one from a similar angle, but this one is clean and true.
20:57 – 20.57 – With Jones off the field the visitors are suddenly less sure of themselves.
Auva’a is starting to punch holes and the crowd is finding their voice.
21:06 – 21.06 – 15 minutes to go and Leinster are looking the most likely to take all four points.
Not only are they dominating territory, but they are building up a head of steam as Scarlets continue to kick back to Nacewa, Kearney and Carr.
The red wall is standing firm enough, but concedes a penalty and the hosts have another chance to get the maul rolling from 30 meters out.
21:10 – 21.10 – Madigan, to his credit is still trying to keep the defence honest at the fringes and is making small ground.
Leinster go through the phases, Auva’a again, Strauss and McFadden making good bursts, but Boss gives away a needless penalty on the five meter line.
21:11 – 21.11 – It’s full time in Cardiff, and the home side have held on to their seven point lead.
21-14 Ulster lose.
21:16 – 21.16 – Finally the pressure pays. Walsh is caught off his feet and McFadden with another chance from that pesky left hand touchline.
Under presuure because it fell off the tee, he’s smashed it right of the posts.
The game is still all in the balance and both coaches have now emptied the bench with under five minutes to go.
21:19 – 21.19 – The RDS announcer has just named the “MVP” as Devin Toner.
Hopefully they’ll pick a man of the match soon, too.
21:22 – 21.22 – Boos ring out around the ground, Fionn Carr the man whistled this time for… you guessed it… handling off his feet at the breakdown.
One minute left now and Scarlets have coughed up the ball, witll that be crucial?
Leinster are just inside the half. And penalty is awarded.
21:24 – 21.24 – The clock is red, the ref has called last play.
This looks outside of McFadden’s range at 45 meters, but there’s not much choice..
I take it all back, Fergus.
He hits it absolutely perfectly and it sailed between the posts.
Is there no stopping this Leinster team, a dozen consecutive wins.
21:27 – 21.27 – It will go down as a mixed night with the boot for McFadden.
He missed two kick-able chances (one badly) but he didn’t half make up for it by stepping up to win the game with the last kick.
45 meters is a mean feat for any kicker, but for a man who is more used to deferring to Jonathan Sexton it was enormous.
Credit to the centre for getting it done when it counts.
With 14 of Leinster’s 14 points, he wins my man of the match.
21:34 – 21.34 – In the night’s other game: the Ospreys saw off Aironi, but no bonus point for either side with a scoreline of 23-7.
Good night in the end for Leinster, the retain a 10 point lead at the top despite being far from their best.
The Scarlets did well to spoil for long periods and Stephen Jones showed his class in managing a game over Ian Madigan.
It was only when Jones left the field and Leinster introduced Strauss that they really began to turn the screw.
21:34 – 21.34 – “That was a really tough game,” Kevin McLaughlin told TG4 after the game, “everyone in the changing ground is aboslutely wrecked.”
“In fairness to Scarlets they got off the line really fast and we found it hard to get over the gainline. That made it really hard.”
“But we’ll take the four points and move on to next week.”
21:42 – 21.42 – Joe Schmidt echoed his captains sentiment and made mention of the difficulty in welcoming internationals back into his squad at short notice.
“Frustrating night, weather conditions was tough, but the crowd was fantaastic.”
“We had a couple of great opportunites in the first half- missed them and then they came down and score.”
“I think fluidity is hard to find when you have guys coming in and out during the week.”
Schmidt also gave an update on the possible arrival on Brad Thorn, but it appears a few weeks away yet.
“Things are progressing with Brad, we’d be pretty hopeful he’d be able to get over and help us out.
“Early March is when we’re hoping Brad can come over because we’re pretty skinny in the second row area.”
“Brad’s been at it 20 odd years and he’d be a great addition.”
21:45 – 21.45 – Well, folks that’s it from me. Have a good weekend.