Leinster leapfrogged The Ospreys into second place in The Magners League on Saturday evening after a strong second-half performance led to them defeating Glasgow 36-13 at The RDS.
What was looking to be a niggly uninspiring game was settled by a huge surge from last year’s winners in the last quarter when Rocky Elsom’s first-half try was added to by efforts from replacements Shane Horgan, Sean O’Brien (2) and Jonathan Sexton.
Kelly Brown and Lome Fa’atau has notched first-half tries as Glasgow led 13-8 at the break, but a lack of discipline did for their chances thereafter.
Ruaridh Jackson had the game’s first kick at goal as Glasgow were awarded a penalty for holding on, but the young scrum-half kicked wide. Felipe Contepomi soon showed him how to do it at the other end, but Jackson’s second kick was much better and the game was 3-3 with six minutes played.
Leinster were a little sleepy in the early stages of this one and were punished when Mark McMillan retrieved the ball from a scrum and played left, Kelly Brown profiting to bomb through and touch down in the corner for Glasgow. Jackson missed the conversion that followed, but it was not an easy chance for the player as the angle was as tough as it gets.
That woke the home side up and a few minutes later the scores were level again. Elsom was the man to cross the line after a great training ground move saw Devin Toner feed Malcolm O’Kelly and the veteran fed the ball through to Elsom who would not be stopped as he crossed over. Surprisingly, Contepomi’s conversion attempt was woeful as he kicked it wide to the left.
The remainder of the half was a battle with Leinster having much of the ball but promising to do little with it and they were caught with a sucker-punch when Fa’atau was released to chase the ball unchallenged. The TMO confirmed that he just managed to get a touch on the ball in the scoring area before he collided with the advertising hoardings.
Grdon D’Arcy looked to hit back again for Leinster but as he neared the try line he lost the ball forward, leaving his side five points adrift at the break, though Glasgow would be without Bernardo Stortori for the start of the second half after he was yellow-carded late in the half.
The second half began with Contepomi missing a penalty, the player somewhat off-kilter at this stage. Too often Leinster attacks were breaking down, while a lot of niggles were leading to several threats of sin-binning and eventually, but unsurprisingly, 15 minutes into the half both number eights, Jamie Heaslip from Leinster and Brown from Glasgow, were sent to the bin after rolling around in a skirmish on the ground.
A game badly in need of an injection of life then suddenly got it from nowhere as last year’s winners went on a scoring spree.
Shane Horgan, not long on the field, kicked things off, collecting a brilliant instinctive pass from Sexton on the right and bombing past all challengers to level the game before Contepomi’s two extras made it 15-13.
Just minutes later it was 22-13 to the hosts. Girvan Dempsey did well to come out from a bundle of players with the ball and Brian O’Driscoll performed an excellent pick-up before picking out another replacement, O’Brien, and he ran unchallenged for the hosts’ third try, Contepomi again on the mark.
After Justin Va’a became the third Glasgow player to go in the sin-bin, Sexton then earned a deserved try, doing well to cross the line just in front of the posts after a serious surge of Leinster pressure on the left led to Contepomi playing him in. With the bonus point secured, there was another easy conversion here for the Argentine.
And there wast time for yet more, the TMO called on again to confirm a second try from O’Brien who broke out of a coming together to touch down despite the attentions of several Glasgow men. Contepomi’s second half conversion record remained perfect and that was very much that.
However, there looks to be more questions than answers for Cheika ahead of next week's Heineken Cup semi-final with Munster, with his team for that giant clash at Croke Park now looking more uncertain than ever.
Leinster: Dempsey; Nacewa, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Fitzgerald; Contepomi, Whitaker; Healy, Jackman, Wright; Toner, O'Kelly, Elsom, Jennings (Capt), Heaslip.
Replacements: Fogarty, McCormack, Cullen, O'Brien, Keane, Sexton, Horgan.
Glasgow: Stortoni, Faatau, M. Evans, Morrison, T. Evans, Jackson, McMillan, Tckachuk, Hall, Low, Barker, Kellock, Forrester, Barclay, Brown.
Replacements: Gregor, Thomson, Turner, Parks, Henderson, Eddie, Va'a
Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks