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May 11, 2013
Leinster 17 - 15 Glasgow Warriors
GUINNESS PRO12 match played at RDS on Saturday May 11th 2013 | No comments
Stuart Hogg's conversion attempt went wide Glasgow's season ended at the RDS as they were edged out by Leinster in the PRO12 semi-final.
Mark Bennett's 75th-minute try got the Warriors back within two points of the hosts, but Stuart Hogg missed the difficult right-sided conversion as Leinster hung on to reach their fourth successive league final.
Glasgow's free-flowing rugby was evident in the first half as Nikola Matawalu's opportunist try helped them go 10-3 in front.
But a try from Jamie Heaslip and two Jonathan Sexton penalties, the second after Matawalu was yellow carded, edged Leinster in front for half-time.
Although two more Sexton penalties put Joe Schmidt's side 17-10 ahead, they never looked comfortable and Bennett's score made for a frantic finale which just went Leinster's way.
The wind-backed Warriors got on the front foot early on, Peter Horne's selection at out-half almost paying dividends as his deft pass put DTH van der Merwe charging towards the line.
Glasgow captain Al Kellock also went close to crossing the whitewash, with the Scots showing the sort of form that saw them run in 66 tries during the league phase.
Although Sexton snatched at a 10th-minute penalty which flew past the left-hand post, Leinster were beginning to put pressure on Glasgow.
Sexton made no mistake with his second penalty opportunity two minutes later.
Glasgow punched their way forward with a series of blockbusting carries following an Alex Dunbar poach, and the ever-alert Matawalu picked and scored from a ruck under the shadow of the posts.
Hogg added the conversion and the Warriors were inches away from a second try soon after, prop Ryan Grant hurtling onto a Matawalu feed - only for the TMO to decide Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden had held him up.
Hogg did manage to punish Devin Toner for a line-out infringement with a 25th-minute penalty, nudging the Scots into a 10-3 lead.
However, Leinster fired back two minutes later when Heaslip broke away from a maul and the TMO decided he'd touched down despite the combined efforts of Matawalu and Sean Maitland.
Sexton's difficult conversion effort just missed the right-hand post, yet the Ireland international was back on target with his second successful penalty for 11-10 on the half hour mark.
That came after another powerful break from flanker McLaughlin and in the ensuing phase, scrum-half Isaac Boss therew the ball straight at Matawalu who was in an offside position. Referee Gauzere awarded a penalty and sent the Glasgow scrum-half to the sin-bin.
Sexton's penalty was the only score Leinster could muster before the influential Glasgow scrum-half returned for the start of the second period.
The Warriors continued to break from deep and show admirable ambition in attack, with Matawalu as ever in the thick of it.
Leinster threatened when Boss' floated pass put Andrew Conway racing towards Hogg and the Glasgow line, but referee Pascal Gauzere correctly ruled the pass forward.
The nerves among the home fans lessened somewhat in the final quarter when Sexton converted two of three quick-fire penalty attempts, the last of them a huge strike after a Glasgow scrum offence.
But Glasgow kept plugging away and with replacement Ruaridh Jackson lively in a series of late surges, Ryan Wilson's fine offload out of a tackle put another replacement Bennett over to the right of the posts.
Handed a chance to draw the Warriors level, Hogg flashed the conversion to the right.
Glasgow kept going for the win but the match ended with Leinster kicking a penalty to touch with no time on the clock.
“The better team is the one that scores more points,” said Gregor Townsend after the match. “Leinster just had a bit more experience, they were smart around the breakdown and they got penalties there. They just had the edge over us there.
“Credit to the Glasgow players who played at a real tempo. They were cleaning rucks quickly, supporting the ball and a game like that really tests your fitness. There were a lot of stoppages with players going down and trying to slow the tempo but our guys wanted to keep on playing and it’s credit to our fitness coaches and the work or our players.
“The team have all improved from last year. They enjoy their rugby. They like playing at tempo, you can see the passing skills, the evasion but we’re in the same position we were last year and we know we have to be better to get into a final.
“It’s probably where we are. I think we need some more patience in there. Our last try was exactly what we need to do in the opposition 22. We need to balance the risk between offloading and keeping the ball, we know we have to learn and get more discipline in that area.”