Leinster’s win over 14-man Glasgow is spoiled by injury to Harry Byrne

Adam Hastings was given a red card for dangerous play as Leinster won 40-21.

Cian Kelleher is tackled in the air by Forbes.
Cian Kelleher is tackled in the air by Forbes.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Feb 28th 2021, 7:32 PM

Leinster 40 

Glasgow Warriors 21

ON AND ON they go, conquering one team after the next, putting up scores that a first-choice XV would be proud of. But this, remember, was Leinster’s second XV in all but name.

In Rome yesterday, Andy Farrell used 15 Leinster players and when you also consider that Dan Leavy and Max Deegan are injured and Rhys Ruddock is getting a well-deserved weekend off, you get an idea of the depth this club has.

They needed it here because Glasgow gave Leinster a serious fright after half-time when they ignored the inconvenience of having just 14 men on the field to score two converted tries in the third quarter and reduce the gap to just seven points.

But discipline cost them. Playing Leinster is tough enough with 15 men. Glasgow had just 13 from the 70th minute. First they lost Cole Forbes to a yellow card on nine minutes and then Adam Hastings to a red on 37 before TJ Iaone became their third player to be carded on 71.

The Hastings incident has to be seen to be believed. Short of seeing Mr Myagi appear by his side, advising him to wax on and wax off, the Glasgow out-half delivered the best Karate Kid impression anyone has seen since Ralph Macchio played Daniel LaRusso in the 1984 Hollywood blockbuster.

As Hastings rushed to collect a high ball, Cian Kelleher closed in to contest it. Big mistake, Hastings’ left foot connecting with Kelleher’s face. The Leinster winger went down; Hastings went off, red carded for dangerous play.

Down to 14 men, trailing by 21 points at half time, you imagined Glasgow would fall apart. Instead they were inspired in the opening 10 minutes of the second-half, getting two tries – the first of those, from Rufus McLean, owing so much to the strength and belligerence of Grant Stewart, the Glasgow hooker, who bounced two tacklers out of the way before dishing up a fine pass for his winger to finish.

When Huw Jones crossed on 51 minutes to make it a one-score game, the most improbable of upsets seemed possible.

That all changed when Ioane, the Glasgow replacement, went off. Whatever about their hopes of doing something with 14 men, they had no chance with 13. Leinster turned the screw, Luke McGrath and Kelleher getting tries in the closing minutes to add to Scott Penny’s two first-half tries, plus a converted try from Harry Byrne and a penalty try.

The good news for Leinster is that they are six points clear of Ulster with three games left – and two of those fixtures are against Zebre and Ospreys, which suggests a place in next month’s Pro14 final is theirs to throw away. The bad news is that Byrne went off in the first-half with a worrying-looking injury.

harry-byrne-receives-medical-attention Harry Byrne receives medical attention. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

As if that wasn’t enough drama, we have nine tries and 61 points to tell you about.

Leinster were first to score, Byrne running a nice angle to get across the line on two minutes, a score he’d go on to convert.

By the time Forbes was tackling Kelleher in the air on nine minutes, earning a yellow card and gifting Leinster a penalty try, you wouldn’t have found anyone who believed we would see an alternative script to the one we all predicted.

Leinster, we felt, would cruise to victory; Glasgow would play the role as fall-guys.

Well, it did not pan out like that.

For starters, Glasgow opened their scoring when Forbes was off the pitch, getting a brilliant try after their maul drove Leinster backwards and then Jones ran a clever line to find space deep in Leinster territory.

While the centre’s pass was imperfect, Thomas Gordon’s pick-up was magnificent and Glasgow had a score their play deserved.

thomas-gordon-scores-a-try Gordon scores for Glasgow. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Respite did not last long, though. By half-time they had seen Scott Penny score two more tries – he has 15 in a Leinster shirt now – and everyone assumed his ability to eye a gap and use his strength to score from close range would be the story of the day.

Not so.

The Hastings challenge saw that. Add in Byrne’s departure with an injury and there was much to discuss.

But on with the game. After Penny scored from close range on 20 minutes, Leinster had a 21-7 lead. That was extended to 28-7 just before half-time when Penny again powered across the line, an action replay of his first score.

That was that, you assumed.

Glasgow would tire. They’d be disheartened and outnumbered.

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Not until they made a fight of it. Their second try, Stewart barging down the right wing, feeding McLean, was super. Their third on 51 minutes owed so much to Jones’ strength.

Suddenly we had a game. Leinster were showing signs of panic and as the clock ticked towards the final 10 minutes, it was anyone’s game.

But when Ioane was also carded for dangerous play it was game over.

Sure enough, McGrath confirmed it, scoring their fifth try when he ran a smart support line to get on the end of Dave Kearney’s pass after Jimmy O’Brien had made the initial burst through. Kelleher added the sixth try three minutes from the end.

Leinster scorers:

Tries: H Byrne, Penny 2, penalty try, McGrath, Kelleher

Conversions: H Byrne [2 from 2] Hawkshaw (2 from 2) O’Brien (0/1)

Glasgow scorers:

Tries: Gordon, McLean, Jones

Conversions: Hastings (1 from 1), Thompson (2 from 2)

Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien, Cian Kelleher (Max O’Reilly ’37-40), Jamie Osborne, Rory O’Loughlin, Dave Kearney, Harry Byrne (David Hawkshaw ‘33), Luke McGrath (Rowan Osborne ‘75); Peter Dooley (Greg McGrath ‘74), Seán Cronin (Dan Sheehan ‘59), Michael Bent (Tom Clarkson ‘57), Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy (Alex Soroka ’57), Josh van der Flier, Scott Penny (Jack Dunne ’74).

Glasgow Warriors: Ollie Smith (Ross Thompson ‘41), Rufus McLean, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson (Robbie Fergusson ’74), Cole Forbes, Adam Hastings, Jamie Dobie (Sean Kennedy ’63); Oli Kebble (Aki Seiuli ‘59), Grant Stewart (Johnny Matthews ‘65), Enrique Pieretto (D’Arcy Rae ‘53), Richie Gray (TJ Ioane ‘65), Leone Nakarawa (Gregor Brown ’40), Rob Harley, Thomas Gordon, Ryan Wilson (CAPT)

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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