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Sunday 17 December 2017

Leinster shocked by lowly Dragons

Coach Matt O'Connor slammed the PRO12 League for the "unacceptable" absence of a Television Match Official at Leinster's shock 16-14 fall to The Dragons at a muted RDS yesterday, writes Des Berry.

"We're trying to grow the profile of the League, trying to compete on a stage with The Premiership and the Top-14," he said.

"It is unacceptable you wouldn't have a TMO. All the games are important. Every point matters."

O'Connor was particularly "disappointed" with a possible try by Luke Fitzgerald and, maybe, another from a maul, both ruled inconclusive by referee Ben Whitehouse.

The measure of the Welsh club's superiority was reflected in the fact Leinster led for two minutes of the eighty to end a 21-match winning streak at home.

It was obvious The Dragons had come to conquer when a defence splitting charge by hooker Rhys Thomas.

They recycled and centre Pat Leach took a neat offload to the line for Jason Tovey to make it 7-0 in the tenth minute.

Leinster immediately sent in Fitzgerald and Mike McCarthy in for injured duo Noel Reid and Tom Denton and out-half Jimmy Gopperth struck three points from 43 metres.

The Leinster scrum cranked up for a penalty and Gopperth stitched on another three on the half hour.

They had to rely on the scrum to get them out of trouble as The Dragons came calling again before Tom Prydie made it 10-6 at the break.

The home side activated a maul that meant business.

Then, Ben Te'o tore it up through the centre and Fitzgerald's flashing change of angle and reach for the whitewash was deemed a knock on by referee Ben Whitehouse.

The scrum churned out another penalty which Gopperth landed with ease in the 53rd minute.

The Dragons were not without threat, full-back Jason Tovey missing a drop goal just before Dave Kearney broke from deep in an impressive counter.

Second row McCarthy's indiscipline into a ruck handed Prydie a simple chance to make it 13-9 to The Dragons in the 63rd minute.

The move to inside centre didn't inconvenience Te'o too much. He was away again, finding replacement John Cooney on his shoulder and the scrum-half's grubber was grounded by Kearney.

The Dragons wasted no time in recovering a lead they never lost from Prydie's penalty for 16-14 in the 66th minute to leave Leinster standing outside the Top-4 in fifth.

GUINNESS PRO12

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