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Evans the hero as Leinster suffer first defeat in Cardiff in 11 years

The province had won their last 16 games against Cardiff in all competitions.

Jarrod Evans celebrates scoring the winning penalty.
Jarrod Evans celebrates scoring the winning penalty.
Image: Lewis Mitchell/INPHO

Cardiff 29

Leinster 27

Rob Cole reports from Cardiff Arms Park.


LEINSTER WERE UNABLE to take over at the top of the URC table as they fell to only their second defeat of the season – and their first in Cardiff since 2011.

Ross Byrne’s immaculate boot seemed to have won the game for the champions in the 75th minute with another penalty, but then a high tackle in the last play of the game gave the home side one last shot at ending a run of 16 successive defeats to Leinster.

Up stepped Jarrod Evans and over went the 45 metre kick that raised the roof at the Arms Park and earned Cardiff their first win of the year.

Having been forced to play their last Heineken Champions Cup game behind closed doors Cardiff were pleased to welcome back fans for their biggest test of the season, even if it was against a Leinster side shorn of all bar three of their 17 Irish squad members.

The boys in blue are the perennial standard bearers of the URC and they came into the game with extra incentive after what happened 40 miles down the M4 earlier in the day.

The Ospreys’ 23-19 win over league leaders Edinburgh opened the door for Leo Cullen’s men to take over at the top if they could do what they always seem to do – win in Wales. They arrived having lost only once in their last 16 trips to Wales and were also boasting 16 wins on the bounce against the home side in all competitions.

The Blue & Blacks came into this one without a win since 23 October, and missing six of their eight Welsh squad members. Wayne Pivac released the front row pair, Rhys Carre and Dillon Lewis to get some extra minutes under their belts, although Dai Young started them on the bench.

Will Connors, Rhys Ruddock and Ross Byrne were similarly released by Irish boss Andy Farrell and it was the latter who kicked-off the scoring as early as the third minute when he punished a home forward for putting his hands in the cookie jar at a breakdown 38 metres out from the posts.

adam-byrne-runs-in-to-score-his-sides-first-try Adam Byrne runs in Leinster's opening try. Source: Lewis Mitchell/INPHO

His opposite number Jarrod Evans levelled things up midway through the first half with a 35 metre penalty and then cross kicked inch perfectly into the hands of Owen Lane. The Wales international wing caught the ball on the Leinster 10 metre line and showed a clean pair of heels to three chasers as he notched the first try of the game.

Evans added the extra, but then Adam Byrne copied Lane by sprinting clear for an instant reply. Ross Byrne converted and it was all square again. Ben Thomas then added a penalty for offside and it was 13-10 at the break.

Two more Evans penalties gave Cardiff a nine point cushion and forced Leinster to dig deep. They conjured up an angry response, notably after the arrival of James Tracy, and made the most of a yellow card to Jim Botham in the 51st minute.

By the time the Welsh flanker returned both Tracy and Scott Penny had crashed over and two more Byrne conversions had taken Leinster five points clear.

scott-penny-scores-his-sides-third-try Scott Penny scores Leinster's third try. Source: Lewis Mitchell/INPHO

Ross Byrne’s conversion made it a two-point game and then No 8 Scott Penny went over for another try converted by Byrne to give the champions the lead.

It wasn’t over though and Hallam Amos ran in a second try that Evans converted to edge Cardiff in front again, but then Byrne hit the mark with a 75th minute penalty to seemingly win the game. 

Evans had other ideas, his last-ditch kick sealing a brilliant win for the home side. 

Cardiff scorers:

Tries: O Lane, H Amos

Conversions: J Evans (2)

Penalties: J Evans (3) B Thomas

Leinster scorers:

Tries: A Byrne, J Tracy, S Penny

Conversions: R Byrne (3)

Penalty: R Byrne 

CARDIFF: H Amos; O Lane, R Lee-Lo, B Thomas (M Llewellyn 67), A Summerhill; J Evans (G Smith 28-40), L Williams; C Domachowski, (R Carre 51) K Myhil (E Daniel 67), D Arhip (D Lewis 51, J Turnbull (captain), R Thornton (T Williams 58), S Lewis-Hughes, W Boyde (S Moore 41), J Botham. 

Yellow card: J Botham 51 

LEINSTER: J O’Brien (T O’Brien 54); A Byrne, J Osbourne (H Byrne 64), C Frawley, R O’Loughlin; R Byrne, L McGrath (captain); E Byrne (P Dooley 54), S Cronin (J Tracy 48), M Ala’alatoa, D Toner (R Molony 54), J McCarthy, R Ruddock, W Connors (M Deegan 30), S Penny. 

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU) 

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella, and Gavan Casey glance ahead to the Six Nations, chat about the Irish provinces’ progress in Europe, then discuss the latest off-the-pitch drama in Welsh rugby.

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