Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Kick at the Death Wins It for Irish; Defending Champions Lose Out

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Kick at the Death Wins It for Irish; Defending Champions Lose Out

Article excerpt

BOB Casey enjoyed a happy homecoming as his London Irish side edged out defending champions Leinster in a bruising Heineken Cup encounter at the RDS.

Replacement Ryan Lamb emerged as the unlikely hero, putting his kicking demons behind him to boot two crucial second half penalties for Irish - the match-winning kick coming in the 80th minute.

Leinster will feel aggrieved as this was a match they could and should have won. They were the side that came closest to breaking the try deadlock, but they never built on a strong opening quarter.

Jonathan Sexton's third successful penalty of this defence-dominated clash levelled it with five minutes to go, only for Lamb to brilliantly steal the headlines with a thumping kick from just inside the hosts' half.

Leinster attacked with vigour at the start, with Brian O'Driscoll hurtling through a gap after just 40 seconds and Sexton converting his first penalty from the left side.

Producing quick ruck ball, the Magners League leaders were oozing confidence and Sexton tried his luck with a drop goal from almost halfway.

Irish got some relief when full-back Peter Hewat kicked over an impressive penalty, but a high tackle by Chris Hala'Ufia on Cian Healy allowed Sexton to restore Leinster's lead.

Sexton's rifled kicks and Isa Nacewa's high-fielding skills delighted the Dublin crowd, yet Toby Booth's side drew strength as they weathered the storm.

Although his kicking was at times wayward, Chris Malone stepped to the mark to produce a try-saving tackle on Luke Fitzgerald - and Australian Hewat's defensive skills also shone.

Such was the tight nature of the first half, a degree of needle always seemed likely and it was no surprise when Jamie Heaslip and David Paice saw yellow for getting involved in a touchline fracas.

Nick Kennedy also alleged that Shane Jennings had gouged him, an incident which the citing commissioner is sure to analyse.

Territorially Leinster, with Sexton, Nacewa and Fitzgerald rifling kicks away, were on top but the Exiles' dogged defence steeled them and following a Sexton penalty miss, Hewat right-footed Irish level at 6-6 on the stroke of half-time. …

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