Rugby

Leinster fight back to beat Exeter

2017-12-16 22:09
Isa Nacewa (Getty Images)

Paris - Leinster played 20 minutes with men in the sin-bin and resisted intense Exeter pressure before beating the English champions 22-17 on Saturday to stay top of their European Champions Cup pool.

The victory kept the Irish side top of Pool 3 but Montpellier, who beat Glasgow 36-26 earlier in the afternoon, collected a try bonus and trail by five points.

Exeter, who had lost at home to Leinster last week, needed to win on Saturday to keep pace.

The Chiefs dominated the early possession in Dublin and deservedly went in front when lock Sam Skinner twisted over the line from close range on three minutes.

Leinster responded and Isa Nacewa kicked a penalty with Johnny Sexton having left the field for a head injury assessment in the third minute, but they didn't help themselves when prop Tadhg Furlong was yellow-carded for a shoulder charge into Luke Cowan-Dickie that probably deserved a red.

Leinster's suffocating defence kept out Exeter during their numerical disadvantage.

After Furlong returned, Irishman Gareth Steenson kicked a penalty for Exeter and, from a lineout, Cowan-Dickie drove over for a second try, with Leinster losing lock Scott Fardy to the sin bin for trying to drag down the maul.

This time, Leinster not only kept Exeter scoreless but even added a second penalty of their own through Nacewa. He added a third penalty to send them in at half-time trailing only 17-9.

Exeter continued to press at the start of the second half, but could not quite cross the line.

Instead, Leinster clawed back control.

Nacewa kicked two more penalties and, in the 65th minute, Dan Leavy made a break and delivered a pass that looked suspiciously forward to give scrum-half Luke McGrath a clear run to the line. Nacewa converted to put Leinster five points ahead and the home team controlled the rest of the match.

"Exeter came here with more energy than us," Nacewa said, adding that the Dublin crowd at Lansdowne Road lifted the home team.

Montpellier scored five tries to gain ground as Benoit Paillaugue gave a match-winning performance against Glasgow.

The scrumhalf scored the crucial bonus point fourth try and kicked four conversions, while monstrous Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo scored a try and had a hand in two others as Montpellier hit back from a blistering Glasgow start that saw the visitors score three tries in the opening 20 minutes.

Glasgow remain rooted to the bottom of Pool 3, although they dominated this match.

Glasgow had the lead three times in the first half through tries from Fraser Brown, Peter Horne and Nick Grigg and led 19-12 at half-time despite replies from Nadolo and Romain Ruffenach.

Montpellier went in front for the first time in controversial circumstances after getting away with a knock-on at a line-out in their own 22.

Nadolo charged 80 metres up the left wing and although Ali Price dragged the Fijian down just short of the line, the hosts exploited an overlap on the right for Henry Immelman to score.

Paillaugue scored the key try almost immediately while another Nadolo break saw Immelman score his second.

Glasgow scored a consolation bonus-point try through George Horne but Francois Steyn landed a penalty to ensure victory.

In their last match at the historic Stade Yves du Manoir, Racing 92 scored four tries as they beat French rivals Castres 29-7 to draw level with Munster, who visit Leicester on Sunday, at the top of Pool 4.

Scarlets kept their quarter-final hopes alive with a thumping 31-12 victory at Treviso, just a week after needing a last-gasp try from Steff Evans to beat the 14-man Italians in Llanelli.

Results from the European Champions Cup on Saturday:

Pool 3

Montpellier (FRA) 36 Glasgow (SCO) 26

Leinster (IRL) 22 Exeter (ENG) 17

Pool 4

Racing 92 (FRA) 29 Castres (FRA) 7

Pool 5

Treviso (ITA) 12 Scarlets (WAL) 31

Bath (ENG) 26 Toulon (FRA) 21

Playing Sunday:

Pool 1

Wasps (ENG) v La Rochelle (FRA) (15:00 SA time)

Pool 2

Ospreys (WAL) v Northampton (ENG) (17:15 SA time)

Clermont (FRA) v Saracens (ENG) (17:15 SA time)

Pool 4

Leicester (ENG) v Munster (IRL) (19:30 SA time)

Played on Friday

Pool 1

Ulster (IRL) 52 Harlequins (ENG) 24

 

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