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Friday 15 December 2017

Leinster extend lead in Magners

A brace of first-half tries helped Leinster extend their lead at the top of the Magners League with victory over Glasgow Warriors.

Centre Fergus McFadden collected 15 points with a try, two conversions and two penalties, while fullback Girvan Dempsey chipped in with the other try as Michael Cheika's side secured their eighth straight win in all competitions.

A try from Hefin O'Hare briefly nudged Glasgow ahead and, while Leinster hit back to claim a 20-7 half-time lead, replacement Colin Gregor salvaged a losing bonus point for the visitors with a second-half try and conversion.

Having gone 3-0 down to a McFadden penalty, Glasgow responded well and, although Ruaridh Jackson failed to convert a penalty chance, they took the lead after 15 minutes.

Winger O'Hare caught a clearance from Paul O'Donoghue and launched a superb counter attack, side-stepping the Leinster cover on the way to the line. Jackson tagged on the conversion but Leinster seized control for the remainder of the first half.

The unerring McFadden landed his second penalty to cut the deficit and then powered over for a 23rd-minute try after a neat offload from man of the match Isa Nacewa.

McFadden converted and a second try followed for the hosts on the stroke of half-time, replacement Eoin Sheriff stole a Warriors' lineout to launch a swift attack that ended with Dempsey crossing in the corner.

McFadden brilliantly converted to push the European champions 13 points ahead, and it turned out to be a crucial kick as the home side failed to score in the second period.

Missing a host of internationals, Leinster struggled to maintain their high standards and Glasgow, equally shorn of their frontline players, came more into the game.

They missed a couple of try-scoring chances before Gregor touched down in the 67th minute, and converted, to make it a six-point game.

Leinster almost provided an immediate response when O'Donoghue fed Michael Keating but he was hauled down short of the line.

Meanwhile, defending champions Munster boosted their chances of featuring in the Magners League play-offs with a hard-fought 23-17 win over the Scarlets at Musgrave Park.

Jean de Villiers and James Coughlan scored a try each as the hosts went 17-8 ahead at half-time, while out-half Paul Warwick maintained his 100pc kicking return with two second-half penalties.

They were made to fight all the way for the points, though, as the spirited Scarlets, with number 10 Rhys Priestland scoring a try and four penalties, fought back to claim a losing bonus point.

The second half ebbed and flowed as the place-kickers traded blows -- two Priestland successes, sandwiching a Warwick kick, cut the arrears for the Scarlets to 20-14.

With defences on top, the place-kicks were becoming increasingly vital and Warwick landed what proved to be the match-winning kick in the 65th minute, before Priestland notched the last of the Scarlets points, which didn't stop Munster getting back to winning ways.

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