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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 20:26 GMT
Reivers earn battling draw
Leinster 34-34 Edinburgh Reivers
A spirited second-half comeback enabled Edinburgh Reivers to share the spoils with Leinster in their Heineken Cup Pool One match at Donnybrook.
The Scots had been played off the park in the first half, when they trailed by 24-9, as Leinster ran in three tries, while the Reivers had to rely on three penalty goals from fly-half Duncan Hodge to keep them in touch.
But the wheels came off the Leinster machine after the interval, and by the end they were fortunate to get away with the draw.
Leinster were 14 points in front within the first 15 minutes, even though scrum-half Brian O'Meara had already been wide of the target with two attempted penalty goals.
But then centre Shane Horgan began a move which ended when O'Meara got over beside the posts and knocked over the easy conversion himself.
Leinster were awarded a scrum just short of the Reivers' goal-line after quarter of an hour and lock Bob Casey burst through for the try with O'Meara converting, before Hodge kicked the first of his three first-half penalty goals.
But Leinster hit back when a fine break by Denis Hickie split the Scots' defence and fly-half Eddie Hekenui got the home side's third try, converted by O'Meara.
Two more penalty goals from Hodge cut the lead but Leinster had the last word of the first period, when O'Meara kicked a penalty goal to leave Leinster in a comfortable lead.
Hodge's fourth penalty goal, eight minutes after the restart, gave the Reivers a boost, but was instantly countered by another penalty goal from O'Meara.
But then midway through the second-half Edinburgh centre David Officer scored the visitors first try, Hodge converted.
The home side immediately countered and after a good drive, replacement lock Leo Cullen scored their fourth try, O'Meara again converting.
But this was to be Leinster's last hurrah, and the rest of the match belonged to the Scots.
Full-back Chris Paterson and centre Kevin Utterson got in for tries, both converted by Hodge.
And in injury-time, Leinster went over the top and Hodge knocked over the simple goal from ten metres.
It was just enough to keep the Reivers in with the slimmest chance of qualifying.
However, the group winners will be decided by Leinster's trip to Biarritz next weekend, no matter what the French side achieve in their clash with Northampton at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Leinster coach Matt Williams was left devastated: "We had the game in the bag in the first half," he said.
"But we let the initiative go badly after the break.
"All credit to Edinburgh for taking their chances. But I don't think we should have lost, and we now face an enormous away match against Biarritz next week."
Reivers coach Frank Hadden was delighted with his side's attitude.
"It was a great comeback, and all credit to the guys for not letting their heads go down when all seemed almost lost," he said.
"We were really up against it after the interval and indeed until midway through the second half.
"But the guys raised their game and it was a great result for us."
Leinster: G Dempsey, D Hickie, S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, E Hekenui, B O'Meara, R Corrigan, P Smyth, E Byrne, B Casey, M O'Kelly, T Brennan, L Toland (capt), V Costello. Replacements: K Putt, M McHugh, P McKenna, D O'Brien, L Cullen, G Halpin, S Byrne.
Edinburgh Reivers: C Paterson, C Murray, D Officer, K Utterson, C Joiner, D Hodge, G Burns, A Jacobsen, S Scott, B Stewart, I Fullarton, R Metcalfe, D Mackinnon (capt), I Sinclair, M Leslie. Replacements: P Robertson, C Smith, G Dall, Matt Taylor, I Fairley, G Shiel, S Lang, P Robertson, C Smith.
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