JUST A SINGLE match point this evening would ensure that Leinster finished top of Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup, but their focus was on securing a convincing win.
Buoyed by the comeback win against Castres last weekend, Matt O’Connor’s men were aiming to ensure that what was potentially Brian O’Driscoll’s last game at the RDS in Europe was an entirely memorable one. Led by their superb flanker Justin Tipuric, the Ospreys were intent on once again proving a thorn in Leinster’s side.
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Leinster 36 – 3 Ospreys [Full time]
19.30 – Welcome to our liveblog of Leinster’s clash with the Ospreys in Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup. We’re down to the final game of the group stages for Matt O’Connor’s side and they have their targets set on finishing on a comprehensive note against an Ospreys side that has once again disappointed in Europe.
How do you see this one going? Let us know your predictions for what should be another good game.
19.32 – The teams for this evening’s encounter:
Leinster: Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip (captain).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Jordi Murphy, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Zane Kirchner.
Ospreys: Sam Davies ; Jeff Hassler, Jonathan Spratt, Ben John, Aisea Natoga; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones; Alun-Wyn Jones (captain), Ian Evans; Tyler Ardron, Justin Tipuric, Ryan Jones.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Marc Thomas, Dan Suter, Lloyd Peers, James King, Morgan Allen, Thomas Habberfield, Matthew Morgan.
19.41 – TheScore.ie reader James Sullivan is bang on the money with this comment. Fantastic to be here for the Ireland hooker’s return.
Great to see Strauss back in action… Good for Six Nations too.
19.45 – As both teams get stuck into their pre-match warm-ups, now is a good time to catch up on any of the build-up for this game that you missed
19.49 – Matt O’Connor is out on the pitch running the Leinster team through their preparation. How happy are Leinster fans with his tenure so far? There was been some shifts in the style of play Leinster have utilised this season, but are you pleased with how things have progressed? Would love to hear your thoughts.
19.55 – We like the look of this Leinster line-up. Particularly looking forward to watching Luke Fitzgerald live again; his form has been superb. Great reception just there as the teams were called out and Richardt Strauss’ turn came. What a story, what a comeback.
Should this man be confident of a big win for Leinster?
20.00 – Both teams are out on the pitch and we’re getting set for kick-off here at the RDS. Our referee this evening is Romain Poite of France.
20.01 – 1 minute – And Biggar gets us underway in front of a full house…
20.03 – 2 minutes – Good, aggressive defence from Leinster to start, but when Gopperth fails to claim Webb’s box kick, the home side are a little rocked. Recovering their composure, they drive Natoga into touch wide on the right. Line-out for Leinster around 15 metres inside their own half.
20.06 – 3 minutes – Wonderful stuff from Rob Kearney. Leinster loose possession and Sam Davies puts in his first deep kick of the evening. However, the Ireland fullback is perfectly positioned to claim it and grubber a long clearance into the Ospreys half.
The Welsh side’s maul goes nowhere and then a huge tackle on Hibbard results in a turnover. Reddan slides a kick in behind their retreating defence and Davies is forced to clear to touch…
20.07 – 5 minutes - Disappointing end to Leinster’s first real attack. Cian Healy burst well over the gainline with his carry off the line-out, but then Sean Cronin was stripped of possession in contact on the next phase. Biggar clears to touch, but that means Leinster go back on the attack on halfway…
20.09 – 6 minutes – Phew, first injury break at the RDS as Leinster’s latest attack comes to a halt. A decent start from O’Connor’s men. They’re getting over the gain-line with their carrying in the forwards, but they certainly need to take care of the ball better in contact.
20.11 – 7 minutes – First scrum penalty to Leinster! Right in front of the posts, Cian Healy gets the better of Jones and Gopperth steps up…
20.12 – PENALTY! Leinster 3-0 Ospreys (Gopperth)
20.14 – 10 minutes – Ospreys kicking a fair amount of possession away already and Leinster are more than happy to counter-attack! Luke Fitzgerald makes a half-break but his offload inside to Gopperth just doesn’t go to hand, very unlucky. Ospreys again clear to touch just inside Leinster’s half.
20.15 – 12 minutes – There’s the first turnover penalty from the breakdown specialist Tipuric, wonderful technique from the openside flanker. Disappointing for Leinster as Reddan has them on the front foot with a little snipe on the right fringe of a ruck in their own half.
Biggar lines it up from in front, 45 metres out…
20.16 – PENALTY! Leinster 3-3 Ospreys (Biggar ’13)
20.17 – Yep, he’s looking very sharp indeed. And huge, really huge.
20.19 – 15 minutes – Ospreys break out through Natoga and the Fijian makes huge ground! But Leinster scramble to get a turnover penalty. Would have been unfair on Leinster if the Ospreys had scored then as Rob Kearney had been tackled after kicking the ball ahead down the left. There was no one home for the Welsh region that time, poor refereeing from Poite and his assistant from our view.
20.20 – 17 minutes – Kearney misses touch, but Natoga makes a poor error to knock-on close to touch. Scrum Leinster inside the Ospreys half, now upgraded to a free kick and off Reddan goes…
20.22 – 19 minutes – Poite is feeling the brunt of the RDS’ displeasure. First Webb appears to carry the ball into his in-goal area before touching down, then Poite penalises Leinster for the exact same thing that happened to Kearney only minutes ago.
20.23 – 20 minutes – Knock-on from Biggar as he looks for a loop in midfield. Ospreys have been quite wasteful so far with the ball.
20.25 – 20 minutes – Mike McCarthy goes to the blood bin, with Leo Cullen on in his place. Poite has gone to the TMO for foul play here, looks like an Ospreys stamp possibly.
20.26 – 20 minutes – Still no decision… Crowd getting restless…
20.27 – RED CARD! Ian Evan has been sent off for stamping, in the middle of a maul.
20.28 – 21 minutes – O’Driscoll knocks-on as Leinster go back on the attack, but that is a huge moment in this game. Evans took the card with little disagreement, he was fully aware of what he’d done.
20.31 – 23 minutes – This man looks lively once again tonight for Leinster. Give him the ball!
20.32 – 25 minutes – Another scrum penalty for Leinster after Ryan Jones moves into the second row. That should be an area Leinster target now with the numerical advantage. Leinster have opted to go for touch here, 22 metres out on the right…
20.34 – 26 minutes – But Poite hands the Ospreys a penalty on the maul, and it’s wasted possession for O’Connor’s side. Ospreys should build something from halfway now, but they’ve kicked it away yet again.
Leinster eager to counter-attack, but so far they just haven’t made the clean break.
20.37 – 28 minutes – Seem to be very differing thoughts on the red cards out there. The Ospreys have made a change, with Lloyd Peers on for Ryan Jones. Mathew Morgan is on the pitch too.
20.40 – 30 minutes – The Ospreys knock-on after surviving at the latest scrum. Brian O’Driscoll scoops up the ball and suddenly the counter-attack looks on. However, the centre turns back inside then throws a horribly loopy pass to Kearney. Poite calls play back and Gopperth bangs it downfield after the scrum.
Excellent chase and the Ospreys go off their feet on halfway. Rob Kearney sticks it into touch, around 24 metres out from the Ospreys’ try-line…
20.40 – 32 minutes – Here goes the maul…
20.41 – PENALTY TRY! Leinster 8-3 Ospreys (’33)
20.42 – 33 minutes – Unstoppable stuff from Leinster’s pack, and the Ospreys resort to dragging the maul down just metres out.
20.42 – CONVERSION! Leinster 10 -3 Ospreys (Gopperth ’34)
20.44 – 35 minutes – We’re going to the TMO and it looks like a Leinster try! Moore made a huge break out on the right, found Gopperth inside on his left and the out-half was over the line. Wait.. on second view it looks like he didn’t dot down…
20.45 – 35 minutes – No try! Scrum Ospreys five metres out. That all stemmed from Rob Kearney brilliantly re-claiming a Reddan box kick. Nice hands from Leinster to release Moore.
20.46 – 37 minutes – Leinster back inside the Ospreys 22! Getting close…
20.47 – TRY! Leinster 15-3 Ospreys (Healy ’38)
20.48 – CONVERSION! Leinster 17-3 Ospreys (Gopperth ’39)
20.49 – 39 minutes - An excellent team try for Leinster there as they battered their way over the Ospreys line. All started with a slick line-out. The forwards hammered it up, Rob Kearney made a huge surge and Reddan bossed play superbly. Healy deserved that.
20.50 – HALF TIME: Leinster 17-3 Ospreys
Fitzgerald bursts away down the left, links with Ruddock by then Reddan gets knocked in touch.
20.53 – Well what did you make of that? Has the red card ended this game as a contest? It does look like Leinster should go on to dominate. They were totally on top as we came into the interval and with Evans off the pitch, the numerical disadvantage will be difficult to overcome.
All opinions welcome.
20.56 – TheScore.ie reader Dave Fingleton reckons Evans deserved exactly what he got:
Shameful from Evans..cowardly stuff..caught out..
21.05 – Well the teams are back out. Thanks for all the comments on that red card. Gopperth set to drop-off…
21.08 – 42 minutes – More strong running from Rob Kearney as Leinster shift the ball wide to the left. The fullback nearly breaks through, but the Ospreys react to halt him. O’Connor’s men get the throw-in at the line-out after Steve Tandy’s charge fumble it over the touchline.
21.11 – 45 minutes – Ospreys doing some decent spoiling in the opening exchanges of this half, Natoga has a barrelling run down the left-hand touchline on that occasion after a turnover, but Leinster shoved him out of play. Leinster look to the boot of Reddan once again to clear from their half, then win a penalty wide on the left.
Gopperth knocks it into touch 10 metres inside the Ospreys’ half.
21.12 – 46 minutes – Zane Kirchner on at fullback in place of Rob Kearney. Can only imagine that’s an injury. Luke Fitzgerald makes another threatening dart down the left-hand side, but the Ospreys are again up to the task of scrambling to cover the lively winger.
21.13 – 47 minutes - Leinster break away down the right, good playmaking by Gopperth and Kirchner powers forward…
21.15 – 49 minutes – Again, the Ospreys hang on and it’s Cronin who knocks-on in contact on that occasion. Wasteful from Leinster, who just needed a touch more composure there. The Ospreys were actually down to 13 men with one of their players injured in backfield. Gopperth is looking sharp out there, but Leinster needed to be more clinical in the Ospreys’ 22.
21.17 – 49 minutes - A brilliant shot of Cian Healy after scoring his first half try.
21.18 – 49 minutes – Long, long break in play here. Let’s be honest about this game so far – it’s been of a poor standard. Many handling errors, a few missed tackles, some poor rucking, and an unbelievable lack of flow. Both sides not at their best, so let’s hope there is better to come. After Poite goes to the sideline for a discussion for no apparent reason, we’re back in action.
21.20 – 50 minutes – We’re off to the TMO again! Wonderful line-break from D’Arcy as we got out wish for a bit of excitement. Leinster looked to make a mess of it in the right corner a phase later. Don’t think this is going to be a score…
21.22 – 50 minutes – No try. Dave Kearney fumbled Kirchner’s offload inside off the right-hand touchline and it touched off Shane Jennings before the right wing re-claimed it. Crucially, the flanker was in front of him.
Ian Madigan strides onto the pitch, replacing Gordon D’Arcy. He’s in at 12, let’s see how this goes…
21.24 – 51 minutes – After Mike McCarthy was withdrawn shedding lots of blood in the first half, Gopperth is now off to the blood bin. Strangely enough, Jordi Murphy is on in his place.
Madigan to 10, Murphy at 12.
21.25 – 53 minutes – Agh, another frustrating end to Leinster’s attack as the Ospreys win another turnover in defence. The pest that is Tipuric was involved as ever, he is lethal in that area. Cian Healy has left the pitch, with Jack McGrath on in his place. A great shift from the Ireland loosehead, who looks to be in great shape.
21.27 – 55 minutes – Leinster looking a little more threatening now with Madigan popping passes to runners inside and out, but their handling lets them down yet again. Gopperth is back on now, so Murphy goes off after a decent little stint in the centre. We counted three strong carries in there.
21.29 – 56 minutes – The Ospreys building their first sustained period of pressure now inside the Leinster half. They win the penalty at the breakdown and Biggar sticks it into the corner. Spirited stuff from them, and this is the same corner Leinster obliterated them in the first half
21.31 – 58 minutes – That’s magnificent from O’Driscoll as he turns the ball over for a Leinster penalty right underneath their own posts. The Ospreys looked dangerous there for a moment, but the Ireland centre made a typical steal to half their progress. Kirchner hacks it clear, he’s looking to get the tempo a little higher here.
21.33 – 60 minutes - Not the most orthodox tackle from Morgan on D’Arcy.
21.33 – 60 minutes – Scrum penalty and Leinster go to the corner. Maul time here…
21.35 – 61 minutes – Close again, but the offload is knocked-on. That’s being repeated too often for Leinster. Gopperth, Fitzgerald and Heaslip all made darts for the line there. Poite calls it back for a Leinster scrum, five metres out…
21.35 – PENALTY TRY! Leinster 22-3 Ospreys (’63)
21.36 – CONVERSION! Leinster 24-3 Ospreys (Gopperth ’63)
21.38 – 64 minutes – That was pure power from the Leinster scrum as their superior numbers told again. O’Connor’s forward pack shoved the Ospreys right over their own try-line and Poite headed straight for the posts to award the try. One more needed for the bonus point as Cronin burst through on the right…
21.39 – 66 minutes – There’s the choke tackle! Leinster superbly hold up the Ospreys in contact to win a scrum inside the Welsh side’s 22.
21.40 – 67 minutes – Eoin Reddan knocks-on over the line! Looked like he was certain to score as he darted off the side of the ruck following a powerful Heaslip carry. The scrum was superb again.
21.41 – 67 minutes – Here comes Richardt Strauss! Jogs onto the pitch to a brilliant reception. What a comeback, inspirational stuff.
21.43 – 69 minutes – Strong carries from Toner and Murphy, before Leinster spread the ball to the left. Dave Kearney comes off his wing and gets the home side up to the Ospreys’ 22. Still on the attack…
21.45 – 71 minutes – Leinster shoved into the touch out on the left, after an extended passage of attack. O’Driscoll threatened, as did Madigan but despite some decent passing, Leinster just weren’t straight enough in the attack. A little lateral and the Ospreys shepherded them out of play.
21.46 – TRY! Leinster 29-3 Ospreys (’72 Murphy)
21.47 – 72 minutes – Isaac Boss, just on the pitch hits Jordi Murphy on a short, hard, direct line and the replacement flanker boshes over to score. Some great carrying by Toner and the rest of the pack in there, Madigan with a nice line too.
21.48 – CONVERSION! Leinster 31-3 Ospreys (’73 Gopperth)
21.50 – 74 minutes – That’s the bonus point wrapped up for Leinster, but the more point they can amass here the better, particularly given their often-scrappy performance. That last try was better; players running straight, moving the ball at pace, clearing out rucks swiftly and working hard off the ball to re-position. That’s more like the Leinster we know.
21.51 – TRY! Leinster 36-3 Ospreys (’75 Boss)
Excllent stuff from the line-out there as Heaslip broke through, and off loaded to Fitzgerald. Boss scooped it up and sauntered over unopposed.
21.52 – 76 minutes – Gopperth somehow misses the easy conversion, but Leinster are already back on the front foot after Madigan’s pass released Gopperth in midfield…
21.53 – 77 minutes – Cian Healy gets the man of the match award. He was superb for 53 or so minutes. Promising signs for Ireland ahead of the Six Nations.
21.55 – 79 minutes - The Ospreys are looking to run the ball out of their own 22, but Leinster’s defence is more than comfortable coping with that. Scrum to Ospreys after a defensive knock-on by one of the home team’s players. Fans beginning to filter out of the stands now. Job done for Leinster.
21.56 – 80 minutes – Up to the TMO for some late drama here! Leinster disrupted the scrum, hacked through and Isaac Boss was in pursuit. Looked to be held back…
21.57 – 80 minutes – Still waiting…
21.58 – 80 minutes - Penalty to Leinster and they’re straight back on the attack. They want another score…
21.59 – FULL TIME: Leinster 36-3 Ospreys
Leinster knock-on over the try-line and that’s it at the RDS. Comprehensive win for the home team.
22.00 – So, a five-try win for Matt O’Connor’s men, who were never going to lose after that Ian Evans red card in the first half. They certainly made hard work of it at times, and their handling was disappointing for periods. They looked far more effective when they straightened up their carrying and tied down defenders.
What did you make of the game? Which players stood out for you?
22.03 – Lots of good moments for Leinster fans, but Richardt Strauss’ return must be top of the pile.
22.04 – As ever, your comments and interaction are greatly appreciated. Keep the opinions on the game coming. Cheers for joining us for the liveblog and we hope there will plenty more celebrating for the Irish provinces this weekend. That’s all we have time for, so enjoy the rest of the weekend. Cheers!