Tuesday 22 January 2019

Blues sunk by Marmion magic

Leinster fall foul at Connacht for the fourth time in seven seasons

Ian Madigan
Ian Madigan

Connacht came from behind to stun Leinster 10-9 for the fourth time in seven seasons in the PRO12 League at The Sportsground last night.

It all came down to one blinding break from scrum-half Kieron Marmion, whose eye for space and his speed into it was too much for Leinster, taking Connacht into a lead they never relinquished from the 57th minute.

"The culture and the character of this team is coming through," said Connacht coach Pat Lam.

"That's three weeks in a row we've had to dig deep and work hard".

The western province moved to the top of the table before they were joined there by Ulster after their win at Cardiff Blues.

The roles were reversed here before a ball was thumped. Connacht started the night in third; Leinster in fifth.

The first mistake was costly, Connacht full-back Daragh Leader knocking on Jimmy Gopperth's long ball out of defence.

Leinster's eight men drove on at the scrum for a penalty easily dispatched by Ian Madigan in the third minute.

He was back for another crack when Connacht came up too quickly, making it 6-0 in the 12th minute.

Captain Jamie Heaslip rode a tackle by Jack Carty and recovered his feet to make greater ground. John Muldoon went off his feet to slow down Fergus McFadden's recycle for Madigan to tack on three more points.

The home side held the ball long enough for Mike Ross to stray offside and Carty found his range from 40 metres in the 22nd minute.

It was soon undone when Muldoon saw yellow for trying the patience of the referee John Lacey.

It was the signal for Leinster to turn up the heat, Gopperth going for the corner instead of Madigan for the points.

Leinster started the second half as they did the first, on the ball and in control. The visitors were building territory.

Then, out of nothing, Marmion spotted the gap between Cian Healy and Ian Madigan and shot through it, side-stepping Rob Kearney for a fine finish. Carty's conversion moved Connacht in front.

And there they stayed as their defence shut up shop.

His stirring break was the one piece of individual brilliance that made all the difference for the only try of the game in the 57th minute, converted by Jack Carty.

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