RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster 18 – 22 Ulster (30 March 2013)
On a bitterly cold evening at the RDS Arena, Ulster secured their first victory in Dublin since 1999, securing a dramatic 22-18 victory over Leinster that was not without controversy.
Ulster were good value for their victory, but had to endure a last minute siege from the home side that continued long after 80 minutes had expired. Leinster were eventually held up over the try line, causing the referee to blow the final whistle.
As the crowd made their way to the exits and advertising hoardings were removed, it was announced over the PA system that the referee was reviewing the play. A confused crowd eventually discovered that no try had been scored, but you wonder what on Earth would have happened had the ball been successfully touched down, given that time had been called.
Regardless of the farcical scenes at the end, Leinster could have no complaints about the result. Aside from a brief spell at the beginning of the second half and at the breathless conclusion to the game, they produced very little going forward and were kept in the game thanks to fly-half Ian Madigan’s accuracy with the boot.
Madigan is currently enjoying success while deputising for the injured Jonny Sexton, offering hope that the province will enjoy a seamless transition when the Ireland number ten departs for Racing Metro at the end of the season.
The deputy’s influence on open play was limited but this didn’t stop him from giving Leinster a 12-8 half-time lead, scoring four penalties in response to Ulster’s unconverted try from flanker Robbie Diack and penalty from scrum-half Ruan Pienaar.
Leinster started the second half positively, but failed to capitalise, adding only one penalty to their half time tally before Ulster began to assert their authority on the game. Two penalties from Pienaar eroded the home side’s lead even further, before replacement Iain Henderson scored a vital second try after 62 minutes.
Pienaar’s final penalty nine minutes later opened up a precious four point advantage that forced Leinster to go for the try, and despite relentless attempts to break down a stubborn Ulster defence, weakened by Jared Payne’s yellow card, they came up short.
The result blows the Pro 12 wide open, with Ulster leapfrogging Leinster into second place, just one point behind Glasgow at the summit. Leinster are two points behind in third position with a six point advantage over the chasing pack.