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Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 15:47 GMT
Leinster snatch win
Brian O'Driscoll helped set up Leinster's crucial try
Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by Marc Raynaud
Montferrand 20-23 Leinster



Denis Hickie's last-gasp try earned Leinster a dramatic victory over Montferrand in Saturday's Heineken Cup game in France.

Gerald Merceron's five penalties had seemed likely to set up a victory for the home team.

However with a minute of normal time left, a Nathan Spooner break, after good work by Brian O'Driscoll, split the Montferrand defence and Irish wing Hickie finished off the move in the corner.

Brian O'Meara's superb conversion added to Leinster's lead and the Irish province held on to claim a tremendous victory.

Earlier in the second half, Gordon D'Arcy had been stretchered off the field following a heavy tackle after he had scored a try.

Our scrum was magnificent

Leinster coach Matt Williams

Leinster trailed for almost the entire game before replacement outside-half Spooner darted down the blindside and delivered a pass to give Hickie the space to score in the corner.

The home fans thought the pass was forward, but Welsh referee Paul Adams awarded the crucial five-pointer.

Leinster coach Matt Williams was delighted with the last-gasp victory.

"The boys showed great character and courage," he said.

"We weathered the storm in the first half after purposely going into the wind.

Leo Cullen is an Ireland international
Leo Cullen soars to win a line-out

"We got our lineout sorted in the second half, and our scrum was magnificent," added Williams.

Montferrand had all the possession and territory in the opening half-hour, but couldn't break Leinster`s defence.

The home side had to be content with regular penalty goals from Gerald Merceron, with Leinster keeping in touch through the boot of O'Meara in their infrequent forays into the opposition half.

In fact, they made only three serious attacks and all were rewarded with an O'Meara penalty goal.

Leinster were struggling with their kicking game, with fullback Girvan Dempsey's touch-finding radar not working properly.

By comparison, Merceron had the ball on a string and he was frustrated by his team-mates' inability to convert pressure into tries.

Merceron made sure Montferrand led 12-9 at the break, but it should have been by a bigger margin.

The French side attacked from the restart and were finally awarded in the 45th minute after a break from captain Olivier Magne.

Match details
Montferrand (12) 20
Tries: Chanal
Pens: Merceron (5)
Leinster (9) 23
Tries: D'Arcy, Hickie
Cons: O'Meara (2)
Pens: O'Meara (3)
Att: 10,000

The ball was sent wide and a clever flick from back-rower Marc Reynaud gave impressive winger Raphael Chanal time to bulldoze his way over the corner.

O'Meara missed simple shots at goal in the 50th and 64th minutes, but in between, winger Gordon D'Arcy a Leinster try.

Shane Horgan burst up the middle and linked with O'Meara, whose long pass gave D'Arcy the space to score.

Opponent David Bory seemed to knee D'Arcy in the back after the Irish international scored but was given only a talking to by referee Adams.

D'Arcy had to leave the field.

Merceron kept his side in front with a fifth penalty goal before Hickie's try had the crowd on its feet for all the wrong reasons.


Leinster: G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan, G D'Arcy, C Warner, B O'Meara; R Corrigan, capt, S Byrne, E Byrne, L Cullen, A McCullen, E Miller, K Gleeson, V Costello.

Montferrand: S Viars, J Marlu, J Ngauamo, R Chanal, D Bory, G Merceron, G Sudre, S Bozzi, R Cockerill, L Tsabadze, T Jacques, O Brouzet, A Audebert, O Magne (capt), M Raynaud.


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