Leinster come out on top in a scrappy clash with Connacht

Despite the scoreline, the talking point will be a controversial decision to award a try to Leinster

Leinster, Connacht, Garry Ringrose,

Image: ©INPHO

The weather took its toll on the first clash of the provinces of the year, but despite both teams struggling to handle the ball effectively and string together phases, it will be referee George Clancy who gets most of the attention in the wake of the game. 

The first half was a scrappy affair, as the only points came from the boot of Jonathan Sexton, who slotted over a penalty in the 14th minute that remained the only thing separating the sides until the half-time whistle. 

In truth, it was a fair reflection of the game up to that point. Leinster looked intent on scoring a try during the opening period as they pressed the Connacht line repeatedly and put faith in their lineout to create an opportunity.

Image: ©INPHO

Connacht's back line stood up to the challenge however, and were perhaps unlucky not to have gotten in themselves at the other end after a grubber kick through almost set Niyi Adeolokun free with just one man to beat. An awkward bounce saw it slide under Dave Kearney as he dived to stop it, but his last-ditch tackle at the second attempt spared Leinster, and the scoreboard refused to move from 3-0 before the break. 

The second half brought the only try of the game, as the weather continued to play a role, forcing a number of handling errors from both sides. 

Garry Ringrose was once again in good form, and while he didn't manage to cross the line and touch down himself, his running opened up Connacht on a number of occasions as they struggled to deal with his pace and quick change of direction. 

It was another exciting young prospect who was awarded the try for the home side however, as Josh van der Flier went over the line with a pile of bodies doing their best to hold him up and prevent him from getting the score. Referee George Clancy, who lost his footing in an attempt to get close enough to make a decision, went to the TMO, asking if there was any reason he could not award the try. 

With no conclusive angle and bodies in the way, the outcome may have been different if the question was worded differently, and with the game up to that stage an incredibly tight affair, the decision had a huge impact on the outcome. 

Ian Madigan added a little bit of gloss to the scoreline in the closing stages to make it 13-0, and while Leinster were the more dominant team on the night, that perhaps doesn't reflect the game very fairly. 

Despite a 29-27 loss to the Cardiff Blues, the Scarlets stay top thanks to a losing bonus point, but Leinster move up to second in the table after this win, leapfrogging Pat Lam's side in the process and condemning them to their third Pro12 defeat in a row, as they continue to miss the influential figure of Robbie Henshaw. 

Although they've failed to be entirely convincing, things look to be turning around a little bit for Leo Cullen's side, as Connacht's early-season momentum slows.