FUNDERLAND ROCKS ON for 24 more helter-skelter hours but the real fun would (hopefully) take place on the pitch at the RDS.
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Leinster 33-14 Scarlets
17.53 – Hello, and welcome to this evening’s liveblog. Here are the teams:
Leinster: Rob Kearney, Isa Nacewa, Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Heinke van der Merwe, Michael Bent, Tom Denton, Jordi Murphy, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Brian O’Driscoll.
Scarlets: Liam Williams, Andy Fenby, Gareth Maule, Scott Williams, Kristian Phillips, Aled Thomas, Tavis Knoyle; Phil John, Ken Owens, Jacobie Adriaanse, George Earle, Richard Kelly, Sione Timani, Josh Turnbull, Rob McCusker (capt).
Replacements: Matthew Rees, Rhodri Jones, Samson Lee, Johan Synman, Tomas Vallejos, Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Adam Warren.
18.01 – We’re underway…
18.03 – Scott Williams drives through the Leinster defence early on.
Fortunately for the hosts though, he knocks on as he does so, giving Leinster a penalty.
18.06 – Scarlets 3-0 Leinster: Leinster are penalised for not rolling away.
Aled Thomas slots over the ensuing penalty comfortably. Not a great start for the Irish side.
18.09 – TRY FOR LEINSTER!
18.12 – Leinster 7-3 Scarlets: Sustained pressure from the Leinster forwards deep in opposition territory ends with Cian Healy diving over the line masterfully to give Leinster the lead (8 mins).
Sexton then makes no mistake with the conversion.
18.11 – TRY! The decision to go for the corner from that Sexton penalty pays off as Cian Healy dives over. One down, three to go. Sexton adds the conversion to make ir Leinster 7-3 Scarlets
18.13 – DROP GOAL: This could be a gunslinger’s classic as Liam Williams nips over a smart drop goal from outside the Leinster 22. 10 minutes gone and it is Leinster 7-6 Scarlets
18.18 – Fergal McFargle McFadden combines with Fitzgerald down the left wing but spills forward as the Scarlets 22 comes in sight. The scrum is re-set once, then twice before another penalty is given. Sexton kicks and it is another 5m lineout.
18.21 – Close call but Boss is bundled out of play from an attacking maul. Penalty to Leinster but the quick-tap doesn’t work, Scarlets scramble and clear. Nonetheless I’ve a good feeling about this – Leinster have just got a penalty off another scrum. They are up for this.
Cries of ‘LLLUUUUKKEE’ around the RDS as Fitzgerald dumps a white jersey into the turf with a resounding thud. Sexton snipes forward and is wrangled high around the neck as he attempts to ship the ball out to the left wing.
Leinster press up the right flank before Scarlets use foul means to slow down play.
18.27 – TRY LEINSTER! An attacking lineout is claimed and the rolling maul employed. It pays off massively as Shane Jennings peels off the back and dives over. Sexton misses the conversion but it is Leinster 12-6 after 24 minutes.
18.32 – It is looking good for Leinster so far. It might be advisable to slot a penalty or two if easy ones present themselves. One of the main objectives will be to get clear of Scarlets on the scoreboard and demoralise them…. Scratch that! McFadden passes to Isa Nacewa who sprints to the halfway and chips into the Scarlets 22. Williams is forced to help it out and we have a lineout deep in Welsh territory.
12 phases so far and Leinster are camped on the line.
18.36 – TRY LEINSTER! Play is held up as Healy gets treatment. Leinster win the next scrum up. A quick-tap from Healy and a charge for the line. Sexton and Nacewa next have goes before the sheers Welsh numbers committed to the breakdown tell and Luke Fitzgerald dives over in the corner.
18.38 – Wonderful conversion by Sexton from the left touchline to make it Leinster 19-6 Scarlets. Just one more try [and a win] needed.
18.43 – Leinster are employing Cronin very effectively as an extra loose forward. He has linked up well with Sexton on a couple of occasions and made serious ground. Nacewa is nearly free and clear up the right wing but Kearney’s pass is a yard behind him and goes out of play. One last scrum to be contested before half-time. Leinster get the ball and thrust right and wide again.
Sexton is getting treatment after getting a legit tackle but shoulder on ribs. He carries on. Scarlets on the attack as we are in injury/added time.
18.47 – TRY SCARLETS!
18.52 – Super work at the breakdown by Ruddock as he steals the ball. Heaslip charges up the left flank but the ball is eventually lost and Scarlets press again. We are three minutes into time added on and a bit of controversy here before a wonderful Williams try.
D’Arcy is trying to extricate himself from a ruck but is yanked back by the leg and hauled to the floor. He re-takes his place in the defensive line but no-one is home on the right-hand corner and a cross-field kick is claimed, unopposed, by Williams who dives over for the score. Thomas misses the conversion so it is Leinster 19-11 Scarlets.
18.53 – A half-time poll for you. What division of the Leinster team will deliver the fourth try?
18.56 – Leinster shade the credit for the way they have conducted themselves in the first-half but Scarlets are playing footloose and worry-free. The second-half is shaping up to be a beaut.
Yes Cian, that’s a try. (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
19.04 – The teams are bck on the field and try-scorer Cian Healy is off for Heinke van der Merwe. Two changes for Scarlets. Kick-off!
19.09 – Straight on the attack for Leinster as Kearney twists and turns up in the left-hand corner.
LEINSTER TRY! The forwards maul and go close but play is called back for a penalty right under the posts. The Blues go for the scrum and win clean ball as Heaslip peels off the back and locates Kearney. He bounces off two tackles before diving over. Straight under the posts so Sexton’s conversion is simple. Leinster 26-11 Scarlets
19.13 – The try bonus point is in the bag. More tries would be welcome though as it may come down to most tries if Leinster tie with another best runner-up. Add the four on to what they have so far in the previous games and you get 7. Not pretty reading when compared to the likes on Montpellier and Leicester. Another couple would be most welcome [or am I just being greedy?]
19.18 – Luke Fitzgerald – great to have him back. In the lead-up to that Kearney try he delivered a great, out-the-back flick pass to keep the attack humming. He has now been cleavered by a huge defensive tackle but bounces back up and gets back to his feet to front up again. Scarlets coming back into this a bit since the fourth try.
19.22 – Good build-play in midfield from Kearney and then Toner before Luke Fitzgerald endears himself to the home crowd again by grubber kicking up the left wing and diving to block down the defensive kick from the covering Scarlets back.
19.25 – Thomas slots ovr a penalty to make it Leinster 26-14 Scarlets and put the Welsh side within two tries of an improbable comeback. Jordi Murphy comes on for Jennings. 58 minutes gone.
19.30 – Here comes Brian O’Driscoll [No. 23 for the first time in his life?] on for Luke Fitzgerald. Attacking lineout for Leinster — Toner and Cronin have goes after winning clean ball.
19.33 – Nacewa stumbles with just a man to beat out right. Denton comes on for Cullen as the game slows down considerably.
19.40 – Aaron Dundon, on for Cronin, bulldozes one Scarlets man but is wrestled to the ground by the other. The forwards take responsibility for seven phases before Reddan tees up Kearney. He shows good hands but the ball evades the supporting runner – McFadden, I think.
19.44 – Over in France, Clermont are shellacking Exeter Chiefs 34-3 with five minutes to play. That will be Morgan Parra & co. into the quarter-finals. Meanwhile at the RDS, Madigan replaces Sexton as supporters filter out.
Michael Bent and Andrew Goodman are doing a Q&A after the match in the supporter’s club bar. Someone should pose a a question in Irish and see wht Bent’s reaction is. He’ll probably do better than 76% of the country.
19.46 – 18,200 supporters in the RDS for the match. The final days of the Young Scientist Expo next door but Leinster may have a few more days out if they can replicate their first 50 minutes against Exeter next weekend.
19.51 – TRY! And Leinster want more. They get quick ball off the scrum and Madigan dives over. He pegs it into spot and drop kicks the conversion. Still time for one more. Leinster 33-14 Scarlets
19.53 – FULL-TIME.
19.59 – Good. Great at times. The worry is that it may be too late to influence events. Brian O’Driscoll was limping for the final two minutes as he tried to shake off an ankle niggle. Luke Fitzgerald was named the Sky Sports (and sponsors) man-of-the-match – no complaints there.
Do you think that Leinster can make it next week if they do the same to Exeter at Sandy Park?
Cheers for the company. Stay with us over the next couple of hours for post-match reactions and comments.