LEINSTER FINALLY BROKE a long-running opening day hoodoo by defeating the Scarlets last week. Another Welsh challenge awaited at the RDS in the form of 2012 league champions Ospreys.
Leinster 29-29 Ospreys
17.57 – Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.
Paul Fennessy here, keeping an eye on things, as Pat McCarry makes his way to the RDS.
17.59 – Here is how the Leinster team looks for today:
Leinster: Dave Kearney, Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jenning (Capt), Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack O’Connell, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Rhys Ruddock, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Darren Hudson.
18.08 – LATE TEAM NEWS: Luke Fitzgerald’s groin strain has forced him to withdraw from today’s game.
However, Matt O’Connor tells RTE that it’s purely a “precautionary” decision.
(Leinster’s Cian Healy with Dr Arthur Tanner – INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
18.16 – We’re underway…
18.19 – Ospreys 3-0 Leinster: The Ospreys have started this game well and have earned an early penalty.
Dan Biggar slots it over confidently.
18.20 – TRY FOR LEINSTER!
18.24 – Leinster 5-3 Ospreys: Good offload from Jack McGrath to find the onrushing Richardt Strauss, who crosses over for the first try of the game. It all started after an excellent break from Brendan Macken.
The conversion is dragged wide by Jimmy Gopperth.
Meanwhile, Ian Madigan comes on for Darren Hudson, going to full-back as Dave Kearney moves to the wing.
18.28 – TRY FOR LEINSTER!
18.32 – Great run from Gopparth before he passes to Dave Kearney, who shimmies to go one way and then outpaces his opposition marker, before running over for the try.
Intelligent play all around, though the conversion again goes astray.
18.31 – Cheers to Paul for keeping the liveblog ticking over. Jimmy Gopperth has started off in great form. He unveiled a great crossfield kick at the start of the game. A ‘Jonny who?’ move!
18.35 – The new scrum laws are causing Leinster some brow furrows. Mike Ross was pinged for driving early once. They survive a crucial 5m defensive penalty as Bevington is penalised for losing his bind.
Darren Hudson is off injured already and Madigan is in at inside centre.
Gopperth is making Leinster tick and Mike McCarthy has started well too. Murphy punches a hole up the centre and Toner shows lovely, deft hands as he finds Strauss on the charge. The hooker is hauled down 5m short of the line. Penalty conceded, though, for support players going off their feet.
18.40 – DROP GOAL: Leinster 13-3 Ospreys (Gopperth ’23)
Reddan flings a low, low pass and Gopperth, realising the backline move has been compromised, simply sizes up the posts and belts over a DG on a low trajectory.
18.42 – PEN: Leinster 13-6 Ospreys (Biggar ’25)
Biggar is given another easy chance from in front of the posts after some breakdown indiscretion from Murphy. The No.8 is scolded, via Jennings, by referee Leighton Hodges.
18.44 – *Hudson was starting for late withdrawal Luke Fitzgerald.
18.52 – WATER-CARRIER WATCH: Jamie Heaslip is on refreshments duty and he has a few words with his back row colleagues during a break in play for injuries. 32 minutes gone.
PEN: Leinster 16-6 Ospreys (Gopperth ’32)
The Leinster scrum crumples Ospreys pack and Gopperth has a penalty chance. Over it goes and Jimmy is 1 from 3.
18.53 – Madigan, who has replaced Dave Kearney at FB [he moved to the left wing], has a clearance kick blocked down but the ball spins favourably and is hoofed clear.
19.02 – PPEN: Leinster 16-9 Ospreys (Biggar ’40)
Sloppy from Leinster as they go off their feet at the breakdown. Biggar is given a scoring opportunity from 40 metres out, slightly to the left, and it over goes.
19.06 – Just before the break, RRhys Ruddock replaced Kevin McLaughlin. Also, Shane Horgan is rocking a great beard up in the RTE gantry.
What do you Leinster fans make of that start? Should they be further ahead?
19.14 – KICK-OFF
The Lions forwards of Jones and Hibbard enter the fray. The sun is going down as Gopperth knocks on in the tackle. Here’s a test for Mike Ross & co. Re-set but penalised as Ross moves too early.
McLaughlin back on for Ruddock after he was patched up.
19.16 – Welcome back to Ireland [for how long?] Dave Elkin:
I’ve been away from Ireland for a little while. but watching my first Rabo game on RTE has been interesting. During the break, Imelda May was on a commercial for the Credit Union. All has changed, changed utterly. As for the game, it’s always hard to tell so early in the season. Gopperth looks like a composed 10, goal-kicking aside. As good as Madigan was last year, he will provide the competition needed to push him on to the next level.”
19.19 – PEN: Leinster 16-12 Ospreys (Biggar ’12)
Mike McCarthy gives away the most blatant offside [5 metres so] tackle of the season to give away a penalty. Biggar with the chance to make it a four-point game. He’s just inside the Leinster 10m line and he nails it. This guy is handy.
19.26 – PEN: Leinster 19-12 Ospreys (Gopperth ’49)
Just over 40 metres out and Gopperth, placing his ball at a jaunty angle, knocks it over. A thumper of a place-kicker, rather than a graceful action. Good work from Jennings in the lead-up to that score. Cronin on for Strauss now.
TMO for Ospreys…
19.28 – TRY: Leinster 19-19 Ospreys (Bearman ’52)
Leinster can’t keep Ospreys at bay for long as four minutes of pressure end with Bearman pressing over and touching down, despite the attentions of Reddan and Ross. Biggar converts.
19.32 – TRY: Leinster 19-26 Ospreys (Beck ’54)
Oh dear. Lightning fast attack from the Welsh side and Walker makes a hole before finding Beck in support, who dives over in the corner. Biggar slots over the difficult touchline conversion.
19.35 – Huge Leinster pressure after Macken jigs his way deep into the 22 but we have a knock-on out to the right. D’Arcy and Gopperth using the switcheroo in midfield. Fanning was the one to spill but the pass was poor. Ruddock is on for Murphy.
19.37 – Looks like Mike Ross’ evening is done as he trots to the dressing room. Martin Moore on in his place. Enough experience out there to reclaim the advantage.
19.39 – Fanning is chopped low on the right wing but Ospreys go off their feet in swarming the big man. Decision to punt for the corner, 5m out.
19.43 – We’ve had about six scrums, including re-sets, ever since Leinster were penalised for not using the ball at the breakdown. Isaac Boss is on for Reddan. Another re-set and Sean Cronin is yellow-carded
19.46 – Murphy, who is back on the pitch, claims well and drives on. Leinster power into the Ospreys 22. Fanning takes three men with him. Jennings has a go. We’re at the posts. Toner involved. TMO …
19.49 – TRY: Leinster 26-26 Ospreys (Toner ’69)
Jack McGrath gets the try after a few replays. Toner pivotal in ferrying him over. Looked good and it was good. Gopperth converts. Ross is back on.
19.51 – Denton on for McCarthy, who gets a warm round of applause. Nine minutes left.
19.53 – Leinster are on the hunt and they will have Cronin back for the final five minutes. Toner claims in the lineout. McGrath plays a terrible scrumhalf but his low pass is collected. The phases are ticked off. D’Arcy plays scrummie before Boss finds Jack McGrath and Ospreys concede a penalty. Offside the Welsh offence.
19.55 – PEN: Leinster 29-26 Ospreys (Gopperth ’75)
Over it goes from 25 metres out. 10 points scored since Leinster were reduced to 14 men.
Hold onto your Adam Jones comedy wigs, Limerick legend Sean Cronin is back!
19.59 – I’ve liked the looks of Macken today but he has benefitted from having D’Arcy beside him in midfield. Leinster defend their lead by attacking.
Leinster have a new man-of-the-match award is called ‘The Wolfblass Most Valuable Player’. Good God! Anyway, it goes to captain Shane Jennings.
20.00 – Ospreys in possession inside the Leinster half. 15 seconds left…
20.00 – Ospreys will get to level it up. Hodges awards a penalty. Boos all over.
20.02 – PEN: Leinster 29-29 Ospreys (Biggar ’80)
No real complaints here as Leinster are slow to roll away and are penalised. Biggar, from 25 metres, is not going to miss that. Over it goes. Crucial late penalties conceded at the end of each half. That proved very costly.
20.03 – What did you make of all that rugby fans?