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Leinster produce second-half comeback after Cardiff indiscipline turns game in visitors' favour

Matt O’Connor’s side come away from Wales with maximum points.

Noel Reid touched down after just 90 seconds.
Noel Reid touched down after just 90 seconds.
Image: Ian Cook/INPHO

Cardiff Blues 13

Leinster 22

JOB DONE FOR Leinster but, once again, the means were far from pretty.

Matt O’Connor has revealed he cares little about aesthetics and his side produced another functional display to grind out a 22-13 win, as well as a bonus point, over Cardiff at the Arms Park to head into the Guinness Pro12 break with their top four berth consolidated.

The visitors used a strong gale at their backs and a numerical advantage, after Jarrad Hoeata was sent-off before the interval, to overturn a half-time deficit to remain fourth in the standings.

Trailing 13-5 at the break, tries from Jimmy Gopperth, Luke McGrath and substitute Tadhg Furlong completed the comeback after Cardiff had responded to Noel Reid’s early try with 13 unanswered points.

Without doubt, the game’s turning point came ten minutes before half-time.

With Cardiff in the ascendancy, the Irish province were handed a lifeline when Hoeata, the Blues second-row, was given a red card for an extremely dangerous high tackle on Rob Kearney.

After watching replays on the stadium’s big screen, Neil Paterson adjudged the tackle to be worthy of a red card, much to the ire of the home fans.
https://vine.co/v/OpEiWe77TYi

Up until that juncture, Leinster were disjointed and out muscled.

They had had come out of the blocks purposefully with a try after just 90 seconds through Reid but two penalties from Gareth Anscombe handed the hosts the momentum and their incessant pressure told when a five metre rolling maul ended with Manoa Vosawai touching down.

Despite playing with 14 men, Cardiff had an opportunity to extend their advantage just before the break but Anscombe’s late penalty fell just short.

It was a missed opportunity the home side would rue.

Jimmy Gopperth bursts through Jimmy Gopperth produced one of his best performances in a Leinster shirt Source: Ian Cook/INPHO

Vosawai went from hero to zero when a blatant knee to the ribs of Ben Te’o earned him a yellow card and Leinster picked holes in Cardiff’s depleted defence.

Firstly, Sean Cronin broke through midfield but with the line in sight, knocked-on and then Reid couldn’t finish off in the corner.

Reid was influential throughout and he played a pivotal role in the game’s defining moment. After the pack stole possession, McGrath and Reid created the overlap for Gopperth to cross the line and restore Leinster’s lead.

McGrath then created daylight between the sides with a try of his own before Furlong sealed the win and claimed the all-important bonus point with just a couple of minutes remaining.

With Munster also collecting maximum points in Italy, Leinster remain in fourth heading into the European weekend, when Castres are the visitors to the RDS.

Cardiff scorers:
Tries: Manoa Vosawai
Conversions: Gareth AnscombePenalties: Gareth Anscombe (2)

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Noel Reid, Jimmy Gopperth, Luke McGrath, Tadhg Furlong

Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth

Penalties: 

Cardiff Blues: Joaquin Tuculet, Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Lucas Amorosino, Gareth Anscombe, Tavis Knoyle; Gethin Jenkins, Kristian Dacey, Adam Jones, Lou Reed, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Sam Hobbs, Taufa’ao Filise, Miles Normandale, Manoa Vosawai, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Davies, Adam Thomas.

Leinster: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney, Jimmy Gopperth, Luke McGrath; Michael Bent, Sean Cronin, Marty Moore, Mike McCarthy, Kane Douglas, Dominic Ryan, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jamie Hagan, Tadhg Furlong, Ben Marshall, Josh Van Der Flier, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Darragh Fanning.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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