Category: Archive

Leinster ruggers blow lead, settle for draw

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Leinster 34, Edinburgh Reivers 34 By Malachy Clerkin

What a waste. After 80 minutes of this European Cup match last Friday night at Donnybrook, Leinster were 10 points ahead. Not cruising exactly, but with the scoreboard and the clock on their side. As it turned out, they were lucky not to get beaten, a result which would have ended their European campaign.

Shocking tackling allowed Reivers center Kevin Utterson to wriggle over the line for an easily-converted try that left the Scottish side 3 points behind. Still, Leinster held all the aces. They contrived, however, to throw the aces away with gay abandon. Outhalf Eddie Hekenui missed touch twice with what should have been fairly straightforward kicks. The Reivers pushed and probed at the Leinster line. The home side finally transgressed six minutes into injury time and Reivers outhalf Duncan Hodge slotted home the simple penalty to level the scores.

It had all been so different in the first half. Brian O’Meara, Bob Casey and Hekenui all went over for well-worked tries. O’Meara took care of the penalties and conversions and the home

side reached halftime with a 24-9 lead. Couldn’t have been simpler.

The Reviers came back into it somewhat at the start of the second half, Hodge kicking a penalty and David Officer grabbing a smartly taken try. But Leinster expended little effort keeping them at arm’s length. Replacement second row Leo Cullen shimmied his way over the line and O’Meara’s conversion left them 17 points ahead with 12 minutes left on the clock.

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But then, carelessness and self-destruction took over. To be fair to the Reivers, the played some quite brilliant rugby to haul themselves back into it. That the were allowed to, however, is a sad reflection on Leinster’s ability to remain calm in a crisis.

All of which means the Leinster must go to Biarritz next week and win in order to qualify for the quarterfinals. It will be a daunting task, but they only have themselves to blame.

There was more bad news for Leinster, and, perhaps more important, for Ireland when it was discovered after Friday night’s game that winger Dennis Hickey had broken his hand in the course of the match. He is expected to be out until at least halfway through the Six Nations, and possibly longer.

Ireland and Leinster are already without the services of Eric Miller who has an injured thumb.

Cardiff 42, Ulster 16

Ulster, champions of Europe only two years ago, were soundly thrashed at The Arms Park in Cardiff last Friday night, thus exiting the competition. Neil Jenkins scored 27 points and was tormenter-in-chief. In truth, however, Cardiff were superior in every sector of the pitch.

Center Jamie Robinson chipped in with two tries and even the hulking figure of Craig Quinnell could be seen crossing for a five-pointer. David Humphreys did his best to keep Ulster in touch, but it was to no avail. James Topping’s two tries didn’t even lend an air of respectability to the scoreline.

Beziers 10, Connacht 9

A last-minute missed penalty from Connacht outhalf Eric Elwood was the difference between defeat and victory for the Irish side Saturday night at Stade de la Mediteranee, Beziers. At the end of a dour, closely fought

battle, his attempt hit the outside of the French post and dropped harmlessly away, leaving Beziers with the win.

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