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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Leinster battle past Biarritz
Keith Gleeson had another fine game for Leinster
Flanker Keith Gleeson scored Leinster's first-half try

Leinster 18-13 Biarritz

Leinster were mightily relieved to battle past Biarritz in Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final at Lansdowne Road.

The Irish side were never at their best but still seemed set to claim a comfortable victory when they led 18-6 at the start of injury-time.


However, the French then claimed a try in the second minute of injury-time and very nearly added another in the final seconds before referee Steve Lander blew the final whistle.

The back-row team of man-of-the-match Eric Miller, Keith Gleeson and Victor Costello steered the Irishmen through to a last-four tie back at Lansdowne Road later this month against Perpignan.

The match didn't produce a score until the 27th minute.

However tries on either side of the break by Keith Gleeson and Victor Costello gave Leinster a cushion which proved vital in the end.

French international star Serge Betson was sin-binned as early as the second minute for a deliberate knock-on as Leinster immediately put Biarritz under pressure.

Brian O'Meara also missed a number of kickable chances
Brian O'Meara kicked eight points for Leinster

The Irish side produced several early attacks against the depleted French but the Biarritz defence held impressively firm to keep the game scoreless until Betson's return in the 12th minute.

The Irish side were having plenty of possession but a few misplaced passes indicated their lack of recent matches.

Surprisingly with so much attacking talent on show, the first quarter ended with the match remaining scoreless.

Leinster continued to produce all the attacking and Betson's straying offside enabled Brian O'Meara to notch the first score of the match in the 27th minute with a simple penalty.

The home team's pressure then yielded the first try of the match with Gleeson storming over unopposed after a Gordon D'Arcy break had put Biarritz on the backfoot.

O'Meara's conversion extended Leinster's lead to 10-0.

The Leinster scrum-half then missed a kickable penalty but his successful effort in first half injury-time left the home side 13-0 ahead at the break.

Dimitri Yachvilli opened Biarritz's account a minute after half-time but within four minutes Leinster were breaching the French line again to score another try.

Leinster 18
Tries: Gleeson, Costello
Cons: O'Meara 1
Pens: O'Meara 2
Biarritz 13
Try: Lievrement
Con: Yachvilli 1
Pens: Yachvilli 2

Victor Costello started and finished the move by soaring to win a line-out on the edge of Biarritz '22 and then rumbling over after a rolling maul.

Five minutes later, Denis Hickie was inches away from a second Leinster try with the video referee adjudged that the winger had just failed to reach the line.

Yachvilli's second penalty of the day which cut Leinster's lead to 12 points gave Biarritz a glimmer of a hope with 20 minutes left.

Biarritz then produced their first sustained burst of pressure but a crunching Brian O'Driscoll tackle which saved a seemingly certain try, ended the siege.

However, Leinster were forced to endure some nervous closing minutes in injury-time when Thomas Lievremont barged through some weak home tackling to notch a try which was superbly converted by Yachvilli.

Suddenly, there was only five points in it with a full five minutes of injury-time remaining.

Leinster then camped in Biarritz's '22 for the next four minutes only for the French to produce a last-ditch break which nearly caused a sensational winning try.


Leinster: G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll (capt), D Quinlan, G D'Arcy, C Warner, B O'Meara, E Byrne, S Byrne, P Coyle, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, E Miller, K Gleeson, V Costello.
Replacements: N Treston, G Hickie, A Kearney, B O'Riordan, N Spooner, P McKenna.

Biarritz: N Brusque, P Bernat-Salles, P Bidabe, M Stcherbina, J Isaac, J Peyrolongue, D Yachvilli, T Lievrement, C Milberes, S Betson, O Roumat, D Couzinet, D Avril, JM Gonzalez, M Fitzgerald. Replacements: J Campo, B Gallais, O Nauroy, O Tonita, L Mazas, G Bousses, M Etcheverria.


SEE ALSO
Perpignan break Scarlet hearts
11 Apr 03  |  European Club
Leicester v Munster preview
10 Apr 03  |  European Club
Italy threaten to quit World Cup
11 Apr 03  |  Internationals

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