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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Cathal Noonan/INPHO Jack Conan impressed on an evening when entertainment was in short supply.
# Grind
Madigan and Gopperth kick Leinster to hard-fought win over Ospreys
Matt O’Connor’s side move up to fourth in the Pro12.

Leinster 18

Ospreys 12

IT WAS FAR from convincing but Leinster bounced back from last week’s disappointing draw in Italy with a hard-fought victory over a depleted Ospreys side at the RDS on Saturday evening.

A fifth victory of the Pro12 season moves Matt O’Connor’s side up to fourth in the standings but they were made to work hard by the visitors who will be disappointed to leave Dublin with just a point to show for their efforts.

In what was a tight, attritional affair, both sides exchanged blows but Leinster pulled away in the final quarter through the boot of Jimmy Gopperth to consign the Welsh side to their second straight defeat.

Leinster were buoyed by the return of several Irish players but were unable to find any fluidity as Ospreys enjoyed the better of an uneventful first period. The hosts managed to stay in control of proceedings, however, as Ian Madigan and then Gopperth took advantage of the Ospreys’ indiscipline to grind out a narrow win.

Having won their first seven games of the game, Ospreys have come unstuck in recent weeks. To be fair, with Wales in action earlier today and a lengthy injury list, Steve Tandy’s hand has been limited but they gave as good as they got .

General view of the Leinster pack Cathal Noonan / INPHO There were few openings during a hotly contested game Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Sam Davies was flawless from the tee as he kicked three first-half penalties to ensure his side kept tabs with Leinster after Madigan, who was playing in midfield alongside Fergus McFadden, had forged a 9-3 lead for the hosts.

Leinster had injuries problems of their own. Matt O’Connor was forced into a late reshuffle before kick-off with both Mike McCarthy and Isaac Boss withdrawing through illness with Tom Denton and Jake McGrath coming in. Then, Madigan was forced off at the break.

Leinster were thankful to some resolute defence and the intervention of the TMO either side of the interval.

Dominic Ryan’s turnover after a period of concerted Ospreys pressure ensured the sides went into the dressing rooms on level terms at 9-9.

Leinster’s rearguard was penetrated far too easily moments after the restart, though.

After Martin Roberts had offloaded to the on-running Aisea Natgoa, the winger waltzed through midfield to touch down under the posts. However, on closer inspection Roberts’ pass was forward and Leinster were given a reprieve.

It was one they took advantage of. Jack Conan’s burst highlighted all his pace and power but just when the crowd were given a reason to get off their seats for the first time, the move broke down yards from the line.

Similarly, Gopperth’s break from deep was thwarted by a brilliantly executed tackle by Davies as Ryan looked to make headway for the line.

As frustration levels grew among the players and crowd, the Ospreys gifted Leinster with an opportunity to pull away in the closing stages.

Gopperth slotted over from just outside the 22 with seven minutes remaining and then made sure of the win with another straightforward effort in the dying seconds.

Leinster will know they’ll need to up their game with a trip to the Twickenham Stoop on the horizon in the Champions Cup.

Leinster penalties: Madigan (3), Gopperth (3)Ospreys penalties: Davies (4)

LEINSTER:

15. Z Kirchner
14. D Fanning
13. F McFadden
12. I Madigan
11. D Kearney
10. J Gopperth
9. E Reddan (c)

1. M Bent
2. B Byrne
3. T Furlong
4. T Denton
5. K Douglas
6. D Ryan
7. J Murphy
8. J Conan

Replacements: J Tracy, P Dooley, J Hagan, B Marshall, R Ruddock, L McGrath, N Reid, G D’Arcy.

OSPREYS:

15. D Evans
14. A Natoga
13. A Bishop
12. H Dirksen
11. T Grabham
10. S Davies
9. M Roberts

1. M Thomas
2. S Parry
3. D Arhip
4. L Peers (c)
5. T Ardron
6. J Bearman
7. S Lewis
8. D Baker

Replacements: S Otten, G Thomas, C Griffiths, R Bernardo, I Jones, T Habberfield, J Matavesi, D Howells.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (France).

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