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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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'It had a bit of everything' - Lights, lessons and another Leinster win

Scrum-half Nick McCarthy was man of the match on his first start for Leinster last night.

Murray Kinsella reports from the RDS

JACK MCGRATH WAS perhaps the most relieved man at the RDS last night, although the stadium engineers were definitely in the mix for that title.

Failure of the main generator and the back-up generator saw the Dublin venue plunged into darkness with just over a minute and a half of Leinster’s Pro12 clash with Glasgow left to play.

RDS lights shut down during the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Eventually, the people behind the scenes sparked the illumination that allowed Leinster to see out their thrilling 31-30 victory over Gregor Townsend’s Warriors, but not before McGrath’s hairy moment.

Leinster withstood a final Glasgow attack in the dying seconds, turning the ball over, only for it to find its way into loosehead McGrath’s hands. He took it upon himself to thump the ball firmly into touch but sliced his kick badly.

Leinster hearts rose into mouths as the ball bounced up dangerously with Glasgow’s Lee Jones in pursuit, but to the relief of all Adam Byrne was able to gather and step over the touchline to seal Leinster’s bonus-point win.

“It had a bit of everything, that game,” said head coach Leo Cullen with a smile after Leinster’s 10th consecutive win in the Pro12.

“The last couple of minutes is not the ideal scenario but I thought the players on both teams showed great character the way they got themselves set at the end and finished out the last 90 seconds or so.

“It had a bit of everything from our end. With a good number of changes and a couple of young guys coming in for their first starts in the RDS, we were pleased with the efforts of the first half. I thought we played with a good pace and intensity to a lot of our actions.

“The start of the second half, we probably didn’t manage that period very well. We always knew Glasgow would come back into the game, so they had a bit more bite. We didn’t deal with it particularly well.”

Nick McCarthy is presented with the Guinness PRO12 man of the match award by Robert Murphy Nick McCarthy was man of the match on his first Leinster start. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

While he was off the pitch by the time the lights went out, Leinster scrum-half Nick McCarthy – man of the match on his first start for the province – says it only added to the helter-skelter nature of an entertaining, if ultimately meaningless, contest.

“It looked like a good bit of confusion, no one really knew what was happening but I think the message got in that after 65 minutes we would get a win if the lights didn’t come back on.

“It must have been tough for the lads to try and get back up to play 90 seconds after that and we had a good bit of defending to do, so it wouldn’t have been easy for the lads.”

The second half will be something of a lesson for what was a young Leinster team – Cullen rested his front-liners with a home semi-final having already been secured – although they did find composure in the endgame.

Finn Russell’s converted try had taken Glasgow into a 30-28 advantage with 10 minutes left, but Leinster steadied themselves and forced a penalty to allow replacement out-half Joey Carbery to slot the winning three points.

“For a lot of young guys in that scenario, it’s very pleasing to see that they can work their way through that,” said Cullen. “Coming up with a penalty for a lineout infringement and Joey shows really good composure.

“Ross Byrne came off the bench and kicked a drop goal against the Ospreys a few weeks ago, then Joey comes off the bench today and kicks the match-winning penalty. It’s very, very pleasing to see the calmness young players are showing against quality opposition.”

While Byrne and Carbery have been given plentiful opportunities to impress for Leinster this season, others like McCarthy have had to bide their time.

Mike Ross after the game with his family Mike Ross and his family after the final whistle. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Inside centre Tom Daly made his first start at the RDS last night, while academy back row Peader Timmins got his fourth cap of the season off the bench.

“The main thing for me has been to just stay patient,” said former St. Michael’s College man McCarthy. “Luke [McGrath] and Jamison [Gibson-Park] have both gone really well this year and for me it’s just about getting reps in in training and learning so much off the guys around you in training.

“When your chance comes along, you’ve got to take it. It’s frustrating at times and you’re sitting there and sometimes you think it might never come. But you have to enjoy those good days because you’ve worked so hard.”

While the evening was about young Leinster players getting an opportunity to show their composure, it was also about a fond farewell to one of the province’s great stalwarts.

37-year-old tighthead Mike Ross was given a standing ovation when he departed in the second half of what was likely to be his final home appearance for the province.

“I’m sure he has ambitions to play out the rest of the season but there was a good laugh in the changing room after,” said McCarthy. “He’s had a great career and I’m sure he’s delighted with how it’s gone, and is looking to finish on a high now.”

Kearney and Heaslip unlikely to feature for Leinster again this season

Lights out for Glasgow as Carbery secures Leinster’s 10th consecutive Pro12 win

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Murray Kinsella

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