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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018
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Hello, Happy New Year and welcome along to our live coverage of Leinster and Connacht’s Pro14 clash.

Kick-off is at 3.15pm and it’s live on TG4. Stay with us throughout the afternoon for the build-up and action as it unfolds.

As always, we love to hear your opinions so feel free to get stuck into the comments section. Predictions?

First up, some team news:

Johnny Sexton returns to captain a much-changed Leinster side, while Connacht have made three changes to the team that beat Ulster last time out.

Johnny Sexton Johnny Sexton. Source: Ben Whitley/INPHO

Here’s how the team sheets look at the minute:

Leinster

15. Rob Kearney
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Noel Reid
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton (Capta)
9. Luke McGrath

1. Peter Dooley
2. Seán Cronin
3. Andrew Porter
4. Ross Molony
5. Ian Nagle
6. Dan Leavy
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Max Deegan

Replacements:

16. Bryan Byrne
17. Ed Byrne
18. Michael Bent
19. Mick Kearney
20. Scott Fardy
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Cathal Marsh
23. Rory O’Loughlin

Connacht

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Cian Kelleher
13. Bundee Aki
12. Tom Farrell
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Coulson
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. James Cannon
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Jarrad Butler,
8. John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements:

16. Shane Delahunt
17. Peter McCabe
18. Conor Carey
19. Quinn Roux
20. Naulia Dawai
21. Caolin Blade
22. Eoin Griffin
23. Niyi Adeolokun

25 minutes to go. We’re set for a chilly afternoon in the RDS. Can Connacht end their hoodoo at this venue or will Leinster continue their thrilling form in Europe?

Niyi Adeolokun arrives Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Jimmy Duffy with Leo Cullen ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Bundee Aki arrives Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has spoken to TG4 and says he is expecting a tough test. Kieran Keane meanwhile is fairly confident that his side can continue their good form.

“We’ll wait and see,” he smiles.

Ultan Dillane ahead of the game Ultan Dillane warms up. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Less than five minutes until kick-off.

The stage is set, last weekend’s Interpro winners are ready to go and it’s all about this afternoon’s 80 minutes of rugby at the RDS.

We’re off!

1 – Connacht 3 Leinster 0

First penalty of the game goes to Connacht, and Carty nails it. Great start for the visitors.

3 - Leinster penalty from the restart. Sexton drills it over line, quite a strange kick. Connacht win the Leinster lineout, a good kick from Healy with the wind at his back.

4 - First real attack from Leinster with Kearney and Lowe involved. They’re finding their feet nicely. Connacht concede a penalty right under the posts, Sexton with a chance to level matters.

5- Leinster 3 Connacht 3

The ball seems to have fell forward off the tee and Sexton slotted over a drop goal. He has to retake it though, and levels the second attempt at a score with ease.

10 - Some mistakes coming from both sides but the rings of ‘Leinster, Leinster’ are overpowering in the RDS.

Leinster are quite disciplined in the defence. Jack Carty looked like he may take aim at the posts with a penalty but he finds touch.

12 – Dan Leavy is looking good so far. Connacht are hungry, they’ve stolen three lineouts in the early exchanges and not allowing the hosts much room to play.

15 – Some heavier tackles going in now with both sides settling more and more into the game. Still 3-3 in Dublin.

19 - First scrum of the game to Connacht. They’re 5m out, but the ref’s whistle goes. A let-off for Leinster. Connacht just keep slipping up when they get into the 22, they’ve had opportunities.

21 - Penalty conceded by Connacht. Leavy there with another turnover, he’s catching the eye once again. Luke McGrath and Kearney are on the break now, 5m short.

22 – Connacht got the numbers back at the right time to drag Kearney down in the tackle though. Both sides have had their chances but can’t be separated at the minute.

24 – Leinster 6 Connacht 3

Leinster take the lead for the first time through Sexton from the tee. Another clean strike, almost a carbon copy of his previous.

27 - A threatening Leinster break from nothing, but Healy stops McGrath in his tracks. James Lowe is playing very creatively. Disappointment for Cian Kelleher, he’s forced off after taking a heavy hit.

29 - Leinster are on the front foot, they’re cutting the Westerners open at the minute as they play against the wind.

30 - Leinster 11 Connacht 3

TRY for Leinster. Great finish in the corner by Deegan. Sexton fails to capitalise on the lead with the conversion though.

34 – It’s Connacht on the attack. They’re looking better now and have a penalty under the posts. This should be three points.

35 -  Leinster 11 Connacht 6

Carty splits the posts.

37 - Leinster fans will be happy to see Johnny Sexton back — he’s pulling the strings for the eastern province. Connacht meanwhile are on the attack, Bundee Aki and Healy are breaking.

38 – Leinster 11 Connacht 11

TRY for Connacht, and a lovely confidence boost before half-time. Nice work in the build-up from Aki and Healy and it’s Bealham who crosses.

Not a bad first half there. Here’s a look back at Leinster’s try:

Once we get our hands on Bealham’s late response, we’ll post it.

And we go again.

42 - We’ve had no half-time changes.

An attack from Leinster, then a counter from Connacht. Sean Cronin shows great wheels to beat Aki for pace. But Connacht are back in possession and Carty finds touch.

44 – Actually, we forgot to mention before half-time that Fardy is on the field. A few early chances for Leinster, one of note through Garry Ringrose.

45 - Poor lineout from Connacht there and Leinster are back in control. Lowe opts to kick it straight back the middle though and Keane’s Westerners have the ball in hand again.

48 – Leinster 14 Connacht 13

Serious kick from Sexton to put Leinster back in front. The home crowd love it.

52 - Rob Kearney’s kick bounces over the dead ball line, which means a scrum back from where it was kicked in the middle of the pitch. A nice attacking platform for Connacht.

58 – Leinster are threatening once again with Lowe and Cronin on the attack. The try may have been on but Connacht dealt accordingly and clear their lines.

60 – Leinster are on the attack again though and look dangerous as a try looks imminent.

60 – Leinster 19 Connacht 13 

It’s over and McGrath finishes it. Leinster stretch their lead to six points.

61 – Leinster 21 Connacht 13

Sexton’s unerring accuracy continues as he converts to cheers around the RDS. Leinster have really upped the ante since the restart.

65 – Rory O’Loughlin is in for Noel Reid. Connacht have a 5m scrum, they’re hammering away as they look for an all-important try.

67 - Tense times for Connacht. John Muldoon is just short, Dillane has the ball now. So, so close. Coulton has it, but we go back for the penalty. Looks like they’re going for the scrum.

68 – Connacht still have it after a monster tackle from Fardy. Try is imminent.

69 – Leinster 21 Connacht 18

TRY for Connacht. Incredible work by Healy as he dances past two or three to crash over. A failed conversion follows though.

71 – Some big hits going in here. It’s anybody’s game at this stage.

73 - Nick McCarthy is on for McGrath while Kearney is putting in good work. Connacht are in possession though, and it’s a penalty. The wind is in Connacht’s sails at the moment as Carty finds touch inside the Leinster 22.

75 – Leinster win back possession at the maul though and they have a penalty and there’s a chance for Sexton to clear his lines.

76 – Leo Cullen’s men are going through the phases

78 - Some drama as Aki forces a turnover penalty but Carty misses touch.

79 - Connacht in possession but facing a wall of blue. They’re at the 22, it looks like the ball has gone forward and it’s penalty Connacht.

80 – The clock goes red. That penalty was for a high tackle on Adeolokun. Ultan Dillane is 5m short. Can they do it?

Big carries, 3m short. Connacht are hammering away but Leinster are standing firm.

Leinster are tackling something serious here, driving Connacht right back out towards the 22. The Westerners are still in possession.

28 phases for Connacht but it’s over. It’s Deegan who forces the turnover and Leinster have done enough to keep them out.

That’s all from me on the first of the New Year’s Day Interpros as we head on to follow the action at Kingspan Stadium. There’ll be a full match report on The42 in the coming minutes though.

Thanks for reading, and have a great evening.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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