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banner Friday, 2 November, 2001, 21:21 GMT
Leinster come shining through
Newport's Ben Breeze beats Gordon D'Arcy to collect Howarth crossfield kick and score try
Ben Breeze rises high on his way to crossing the try line
Newport 21-26 Leinster

The floodlights may have gone out at Rodney Parade, but Leinster's character and determination shone through as they snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Two penalties in the final ten minutes from Nathan Spooner proved decisive and the win puts Leinster in touching distance of the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Newport held a slim one-point advantage and were dominating the game when play was stopped with 10 minutes to go after one bulb on a floodlight went out.

When the teams returned fifteen minutes later, Newport had lost their momentum and Leinster took full advantage.

Three points from a penalty apiece was all both teams had to show after nearly 20 minutes of play, but then the game came to life.

Leinster lock Malcolm O'Kelly
Malcolm O'Kelly sets up an attack for Leinster
Leinster had shown better composure in attack, but their opening try owed more to poor Newport tackling than any subtle passing or running.

Flanker Eric Miller swapped his place in the scrum to join the backs, and had little trouble breaking through between Shane Howarth and Andy Marinos to run in unopposed.

Nathan Spooner's easy conversion gave Leinster a 10-3 lead.

But five minutes was all that Newport needed to bring the scores level again.

Centre Andy Marinos showed considerable strength to force his way over after Howarth refused a kickable penalty opportunity to spin the ball along the backline.

Newport were firmly in the driving seat for the rest of the half, and were twice denied by try-saving tackles from the visitors.

Howarth then stretched their lead with an opportunist drop-goal, and his superbly placed cross-field kick soon afterwards led to a second try.

Left-winger Ben Breeze timed his jump to perfection to collect the ball before his opposite number and merely had to dive over to cross the try line.

Newport's Andrew Powell stood out
Newport's Andrew Powell looks for a way past Brian O'Meara
Spooner kept his side within touching distance at 18-13 with a penalty early in the second-half, but Leinster were forced firmly on the back foot for the next 15 minutes.

Just when Newport looked like converting their constant pressure into points, Leinster full-back Peter McKenna stunned the home crowd when he ripped the ball from Matt Pini in the tackle and ran 75 meters for a remarkable try.

Spooner converted, but Howarth's penalty four minutes later gave Newport a slender one-point lead at 21-20.

The game was then thrown into confusion when the bulb went out, prompting Leinster coach Matt Williams to decided it was too dark to carry on.

Fifteen minutes later, the officials decided the game should continue and Newport were quickly back into their stride.

But after constant pressure near the Leinster try line, Howarth missed two penalties to let Leinster off the hook.

Spooner, though, made no mistake with his two opportunities to maintain his side's perfect record in pool six.

Newport (18) 21: Tries: Marinos, Breeze. Cons: Howarth. Pens: Howarth 2. Drop Goals: Howarth.

Leinster (10) 26: Tries: McKenna, Miller. Cons: Spooner 2. Pens: Spooner 4.

Att: 10,285

Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn, A Marinos, J Pritchard, B Breeze; S Howarth, O Tonu'u; R Snow, J Richards, C Anthony, S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, P Buxton, A Powell, J Forster.
Reps: A Garvey, P Young, I Gough, G Gravell, N Brew, D Burn, J Strange.

Leinster: P McKenna; S Keogh, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; N Spooner, B O'Meara; R Corrigan (capt), S Byrne, E Byrne, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, E Miller, V Costello, K Gleeson.
Reps: P Coyle, G Hickie, B Casey, T Brennan, B Willis, A Dunne, A Magro.

Referee: Chris White (England).

BBC Wales Sport's Huw Llywelyn Davies
"Nathan Spooner became Leinster's hero"
Leinster's match winner Nathan Spooner
"It was a testament to the Leinster spirit"
Newport coach Ian McIntosh
"I'm heartbroken. We did everything but win the game"
See also:

02 Nov 01 |  Heineken Cup
Ulster stun Stade with late try
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