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banner Friday, 26 October, 2001, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Leinster defence wins the day
Brian O'Driscoll.
Brian O'Driscoll was last minute cry-off from Leinster
Leinster 21-6 Newport

Leinster kept their unbeaten record in defeating Newport at Donnybrook on Friday evening.

However, the scoreline certainly did not reflect the closeness of the battle.

Leinster, who were without last-minute cry-off Brian O'Driscoll, were on their heels early on as Newport did most of the attacking.

However, the game was more noticeable for the numerous unforced errors from both sides.

International material

But it was Leinster's rock-solid defence along with the ability to put away their chances when they arrived that saw them continue to top Pool 6.

It was Leinster's tackling, particularly around the fringes that frustrated the Welsh visitors.

In that respect Keith Gleeson was simply outstanding.

Flanker Gleeson emigrated to Australia as a seven-year-old, but is now back home and looking very much like international material.

Newport for their part, had Shane Howard running the show, while up front Canadian international Rod Snow threw his weight around with great effect.

Shane Howarth
Shane Howrath did his best for Newport

Leinster had the first opportunity to role the scoreboard along in the opening 10 minutes.

The pack, led by Gleeson set up position deep in Newport territory, but twice former Wallaby Nathan Spooner fired wide with easy-range penalties.

The Black and Ambers were soon finding Leinster's extremely potent defence hard to pierce, but they did get their show up and running when Shane Howarth rifled over an easy penalty in the 10th minute.

Newport did most of the pressing midway through the half, but out of the blue Leinster scored a magical try.

From a midfield split at a scrum in their half, Leinster scrum-half Brian O'Meara fed winger Denis Hickie running left.

There looked no space or room in front of a massed defence, but the Ireland winger turned on the after burners and floated clear before giving Shane Horgan the scoring pass.

Spooner converted and Newport found themselves in arrears instead of leading the race.

Matters were even worse for the Welsh side in the 37th minute.

Flourish

Flanker Peter Buxton found himself in the sin-bin when he was adjudged to have deliberately stopped a Leinster ball emerging from a ruck.

Newport, however, could not find the rhythm they employed in the first period on the resumption and found themselves dropping further adrift.

Two penalties by Spooner in the 43rd and 49th minutes, left them 13-3 in arrears.

The Black and Ambers, though, shook themselves down, and finally their pack began to motor again with Snow in the vanguard.

Howard clawed back three points in the 57th minute when Leinster's front-row were penalised.

That sparked Newport and it was only Leinster's miserly defence that kept the visitors from adding to their total.

Then came that Leinster flourish at the end.

Spooner knocked over his third penalty, and then Adam Magro set up Shane Horgan to split the defence before sending Peter McKenna racing in at the corner in injury time.

But Leinster will look back with pride at their mean defence which has only leaked 25 points from their three games to date.

Leinster: G Dempsey; D Hickie, A Magro, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; N Spooner, B O'Meara; R Corrigan (capt), S Byrne, E Byrne, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, E Miller, K Gleeson, V Costello.

Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn, A Marinos, J Pritchard, M Watkins; S Howarth, O Tonu'u; R Snow, J Richards, C Anthony, S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, P Buxton, A Powell, J Powell.

Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland).

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