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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 March, 2005, 18:39 GMT
Connacht 21-26 Leinster
CELTIC LEAGUE
Keith Gleeson was back in action for Leinster in Galway
Connacht (6) 21
Tries: Lacey, Jackman
Pens: Elwood (3)
Con: Elwood
Leinster (19) 26
Tries: Contepomi, Costello
Cons: Holwell (2)
Pens: Holwell (4)
Att: 2,600
Connacht's hopes of earning a place in next season's Heineken Cup suffered a blow when they lost 26-21 against Leinster in Sunday's Celtic League tie.

An intercept try by Argentine star Felipe Contepomi helped understrength Leinster to a 19-6 half-time lead.

Victor Costello's 53rd minute try then extended Leinster's lead.

Late tries from Matt Lacey and Bernard Jackman did earn Connacht a bonus point and moves them ahead of Ulster in the Celtic League table.

Declan Kidney's Leinster side were minus 14 players because of injuries and the combination of Six Nations and World Cup Sevens duty.

However, New Zealander David Holwell kicked everything in sight in the first half, angling over four penalties and a conversion.

Backed by the wind, Holwell slammed over two penalties in the opening seven minutes with fit-again Ireland flanker Keith Gleeson - making his first league start since November 2003 - captaining Leinster to good effect.

Connacht veteran Eric Elwood hit a dead centre reply soon after and following Holwell's third success - in off the upright on 16 minutes - the Connacht fly-half was poorly supported when getting in behind the Leinster cover.

Holwell added the extras to Contepomi's intercept try on the half-hour after the Argentine star had robbed Elwood on his own 22.

While Contepomi and Holwell - notching another penalty in first half injury time - pushed Leinster clear, an Elwood penalty handed Connacht some momentum on the restart.

Poor home defence however, allowed the soon-to-be-retired Victor Costello strike off the base of a close-in scrum for Leinster's second converted try on 53 minutes.

Connacht flanker Lacey powered over in the left corner on the hour-mark and Elwood converted substitute Jackman's close range drive on 78 minutes but it was too late for Michael Bradley's side as they remain without a home win in the league since November.


Connacht: Mostyn, McPhillips, Yapp, McHugh, Slemen, Elwood, Keane, Hogan, Fogerty, Knoop, Short, Farley, Neville, Lacey, Muldoon.Replacements: Jackman, McFarland, Bracken, Carroll, Walls, Meagher, Robinson.

Leinster: McAllister, McWeeney, Brown, Contepomi, Quinlan, Holwell, O'Riordan, Lyne, D. Blaney, Nebbett, Gissing, Dillon, Potts, Gleeson, Costello.Replacements: Treston, G. Hickie, Cullen, McCullen, Heaslip, O'Meara, Hearty.

Referee: N Williams (Wales)




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