Glasgow Warriors 15 Leinster 12
Leinster’s interest in the Guinness Pro 14 Rainbow Cup, which like many of their supporters was probably fairly negligible from the outset, was officially ended by what was ultimately a subdued and toothless defeat at Scotstoun.
What promised to be a very, very good game ultimately became, yet again, far too much about the referee Frank Murphy, who disallowed two Leinster tries by Hugo Keenan, and regular referrals to the TMO in an increasingly tetchy affair.
Leinster looked the better coached, more rounded side for stretches and had many fine performances from the likes of Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris and Luke McGrath, but also again seemed to be nursing a post-European hangover.
They were unlucky to have the two tries disallowed, one of which was lamentable officiating, but also lacked their customary accuracy and composure in the red zone. Tellingly, Glasgow also upped their line speed and tackling accuracy, while keeping their numbers in the defensive line, to frustrate Leinster.
Tommy O'Brien's injury in the Captain's Run meant Cian Kelleher started, with the 22-year-old, ex -Irish under-20 sub-Academy player Robbie Russell promoted to the bench.
Glasgow, profligately, were quick to lose their captain's challenge for one of innumerable legitimate hits by Leinster's freshly qualified Dr Josh Murphy.
But the cost of a cheaply conceded penalty for offside on halfway led to Glasgow going to the corner, and a flurry of penalties led to Matt Fagerson rumbling over for the opening score.
Leinster's response was sharp, McGrath and Ross Byrne pulling the strings and Ross Molony and Doris especially making inroads with the timing of their runs onto McGrath's pass, before the latter fended Adam Hastings with a gentle hand off and skipped through the scattered fringe defence under the posts.
McGrath’s awareness of space around the fringes and break led to the next spell of intense attacking and defending on the Glasgow line, but Keenan’s neat finish was over-ruled on review by Molony’s earlier fumble at the base.
A neat counterattack between Cian Kelleher and Keenan led to Cole Forbes being yellow-carded for a premature shirt tug on the latter.
Leinster went to the corner and into overdrive, Glasgow again repelling the close-in rumbles despite a big carry by Van der Flier, before Ross Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin combined for the Ealing Trailfinders-bound Cian Kelleher to complete a neat, sidestepping finish in off his wing.
True to type, Hastings – sent off in this fixture last February – wildly celebrated a penalty on halfway earned by his forwards, which meant there was plenty of sledging coming his way when a Glasgow attack ended with the ball in his arms.
But Murphy wrongly pinged and binned O’Loughlin for no clear release – he had just been too sharp for the referee to see. Ironically, Hastings’s prematurely timed run ended Glasgow’s last foray of the half.
On the resumption, Leinster were quicker out of the blocks but another sharp finish by Keenan was ridiculously ruled out on review by Murphy for scarcely discernible obstruction by the newly introduced Andrew Porter. It was a ridiculous decision.
To compound this, Murphy rejected McGrath's captain's challenge even though Hastings's offload to Kyle Steyn went at least three metres, and maybe five, forward, and so the scores were level.
Tempers now frayed, Ryan Wilson’s neck roll on Jimmy O’Brien, after the whistle, sparked another of several all-in schmozzles and also led to the Glasgow flanker’s yellow card.
By now there were less and less passages of rugby breaking out, almost all of them by Leinster. With Wilson in the bin, and Porter on, Leinster’s scrum earned an attacking lineout, whereupon they were pinged for obstruction.
Porter, in the jackal, was then pinged for hands on the ground and Ross Thompson nudged Glasgow in front for what proved to be the winning score.
The endgame then seemed like it might pivot on a superb tackle by Van der Flier, with Doris in quick support, on Stafford McDowell. This earned a penalty and access into the Scottish 22, but Niko Matawalu pick-potted Ross Byrne.
One more lineout malfunction proved to be a last chance saloon for a Leinster side that had gradually lost its way.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 12 mins: Fagerson try, Thompson con 7-0; 15: McGrath try, R Byrne con 7-7; 29: C Kelleher try 7-12; (half-time 7-12); 47: Steyn try 12-12; 65: Thompson pen 15-12.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Adam Hastings; Kyle Steyn, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Cole Forbes; Ross Thompson, George Horne; Aki Seiuli, Fraser Brown, Enrique Pieretto; Rob Harley, Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Stafford McDowall for Johnson (24 mins), Kiran McDonald for Harley (47), Thomas Gordon for Fagerson (52), George Turner for Brown (54), Tom Lambert for Seiuli (58), Niko Matawalu for Forbes (64), D'arcy Rae for Pieretto (71). Not used: Sean Kennedy
Sinbinned: Forbes (26-36 mins), Wilson (54-64 mins),
LEINSTER: Hugo Keenan; Cian Kelleher, Garry Ringrose, Rory O'Loughlin, Jimmy O'Brien; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent; Ross Molony, James Ryan; Josh Murphy, Josh van der Flier, Calean Doris.
Replacements: Andrew Porter for Bent (46 mins), Peter Dooley for E Byrne (55), Ryan Baird for Murphy (56), Jordan Larmour for Kelleher (65), Dan Sheehan for Kelleher (69), Scott Penny for Van der Flier (75). Not used: Rowan Osborne, Rob Russell.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU).