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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 20:24 GMT 21:24 UK
Leinster hang on to beat Bristol
Leinster's Denis Hickie landed the opening try in the Heineken Cup game against Bristol
Denis Hickie scored the first try at Donnybrook

Leinster 29-23 Bristol

Leinster seemed to be heading for a landslide victory against Heineken Cup debutants Bristol at Donnybrook.

But in the end they were forced to hang on for victory against a spirited Bristol outfit.

The Irish province, who have an awesome home record in the competition, were in command in difficult wet conditions until Bristol launched a late comeback.

They may have been expected to win against the Shoguns, but the result will still come as a relief to coach Matt Williams after this season's Celtic League failure.

Williams had regularly been without first team players because of Ireland's early-season internationals.

Leinster's Brian O'Meara had a good night against Bristol
Brian O'Meara was in fine kicking form

But it was a strong Leinster line-up which eventually edged it.

The joint second cup favourites were always in front from the moment scrum-half Brian O'Meara kicked his first penalty on five minutes.

O'Meara went on to kick two more penalties, with fly-half Felipe Contepomi replying with two for Bristol, before Leinster scored their first try.

Denis Hickie raced over after a sweeping Leinster move out to the left flank and, with O'Meara converting, it gave the Irish outfit a 16-6 lead.

O'Meara and Contepomi exchanged further penalties before Leinster got their second try four minutes after the break.

Late pressure

Number eight Victor Costello charged through a gap in the Bristol defence and O'Meara again added the two points to leave Bristol trailing 26-9.

The game lost momentum for a spell but Bristol began to look menacing in the back line and they got their reward when Daryl Gibson produced a try with 13 minutes left.

With Contepomi landing the conversion, it brought Bristol to within 10 points.

Gordon D'Arcy landed a try for Leinster but Bristol piled on some late pressure to suddenly close the gap to six points.

Contepomi went in for a try under the posts and added the simple conversion to leave it 29-23.

However, Leinster held on for the win they so desperately needed.

Leinster: Dempsey, D. Hickie, O'Driscoll, Horgan, Darcy, Warner, O'Meara, Corrigan, S. Byrne, Wallace, Cullen, O'Kelly, McCullen, Gleeson, Costello.

Bristol: Drahm, Rees, Shaw, Gibson, Christophers, Contepomi, Pichot, Crompton, Nelson, E. Bergamaschi, Archer, A. Brown, Short, Lipman, Sturnham.

Referee: Andy Ireland (SRU).


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