A stirring display by Glasgow was not quite enough to derail Leinster in the Royal Dublin Society ground as the reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions showed just how determined they are to hang on to their title this season.
Results elsewhere this weekend had done Glasgow a few favours, but they could not add the icing to their own cake with a victory in Dublin, despite matching Leinster with three tries. Two of those came from Richie Vernon, but Glasgow paid dearly for going off the boil in the middle third of the game, when Leinster took advantage of their mistakes.
That said, Glasgow had every right to feel disappointed when they trailed 21-15 at the end of the first half. Up to that point, they had looked the sharper side going forward, but they had coughed up too many easy opportunities to their Irish opponents.
Loading article content
The first of those had been in the sixth minute, when woeful midfield defence allowed Noel Reid to blast through for Leinster's opening try. Leinster's second touchdown, shortly before the interval, rewarded relentless pressure, but between those times Glasgow let the Dubliners off the hook far too easily.
Still, Vernon's brace of first-half tries, in the 11th and 23rd minutes, showed wit and alacrity in attack, as well as vindicating the former Scotland No 8's decision to move out of the pack and into the midfield. Vernon capitalised on a sublime break by Ruaridh Jackson for the first of his scores, while the second came after waves of pressure resulting from a Tommy Seymour surge down the left side.
Yet Glasgow made it too easy for Leinster to keep an interest in the game. They gave Ian Madigan three soft penalties in the first half, and also conceded a second try when Darragh Fanning broke through three minutes before the break.
Against the run of play, Glasgow grabbed a third try through Niko Matawalu, but they fell behind again when they conceded another to Rhys Ruddock, the impressive Leinster flanker, at the other end of the pitch.
Madigan's conversion took Leinster into a 28-22 lead, but it also seemed to energise Glasgow, who went on to dominate the final 15 minutes of the match. To the immense frustration of their travelling supporters, however, they could not exert the same degree of control over the scoreboard, and Russell's 76th minute penalty was all they could take in the time that was left.