Leinster on top as Glasgow Warriors suffer third defeat in four Pro14 games

It was far from the rout that saw the champions win 55-19 in Dublin back in February, but it was a sobering reminder, nonetheless, of just how much ground the Warriors have to make up if they are to be in contention at the business end of the season

Glasgow Warriors' Hamish Bain drives forward during the Guinness Pro14 match with Leinster
Glasgow Warriors' Hamish Bain drives forward during the Guinness Pro14 match with Leinster

Both teams were without some of their leading internationals, but Leinster have an unmatched depth to their squad, and were as speedy and clinical as their first-choice 15 would have been. Glasgow were able to field an all-international back line, but their depleted resources in the pack were apparent in a bench which had no second-row replacement.

Leinster drew first blood from a 10th-minute lineout. Devon Toner was among the forwards who took it on, stand-off Harry Byrne made the half-break, and full-back Jimmy O’Brien was on his right shoulder to run in and touch down, with Byrne adding the conversion.

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The home side had done almost all of the attacking up to that point, and were soon back on the offensive, this time getting the reward for their enterprise when, after a barging carry by captain Ryan Wilson, George Horne glided through a gap. Pete Horne converted to level the score, but a penalty from Byrne midway through the half edged Leinster back in front. That lead was then extended when, after the Warriors scrum had come under heavy pressure, Luke McGrath crossed from a quick tap and go. Byrne’s conversion made it 7-17.

Glasgow fought hard to get back on terms in what remained of the half, but the more they committed to the forward push, the more they left themselves vulnerable to Leinster’s dynamic counter-attacking. That vulnerability was exposed when Scott Penny crossed for his team’s third try - unconverted this time - from a lineout maul.

Having managed to restrict the deficit to a daunting-enough 15 points at the break, the Warriors got the second half off to the best possible start when D’Arcy Rae scored, with Pete Horne again converting, following good work by Niko Matawalu.

But that was as good as it got for the home team. Huw Jones was yellow-carded after illegally preventing a try from a sudden break by Rory O’Loughlin, and almost before the full-back had left the field Michael Bent ploughed over for the bonus-point score, converted by Byrne.

With a new front row on, the 14 men fought well, but they were dealt a blow when Wilson was forced off by injury. Time was running out by the time Cian Kelleher was binned for a high tackle on Jones, but Glasgow quickly made use of the advantage when Tom Gordon forced his way over from a lineout. Brandon Thomson failed to convert, and in the last few minutes a Byrne penalty took the winning margin up to 13.

Glasgow Warriors: H Jones; T Seymour (R Tagive 72), N Grigg, S Johnson, N Matawalu; P Horne (B Thomson 69), G Horne (J Dobie 72); A Seiuli (A Allan 54), G Stewart (G Turner 54), D Rae (E Pieretto 54), R Harley, H Bain, R Wilson (captain) (C Fusaro 64), T Gordon, T Ioane (F Lokotui 64).

Leinster: J O’Brien; C Kelleher, R O’Loughlin, T O’Brien (D Hawkshaw 73), D Kearney; H Byrne, L McGrath (H O’Sullivan 78); P Dooley (M Milne 54), J Tracy (D Sheehan 54), M Bent (T Clarkson 60), R Molony (S Fardy 60), D Toner, J Murphy (J Dunne 71), S Penny, R Ruddock (captain) (D Leavy 60).