leinster 39

glasgow 11

While a physically imposing Leinster side ultimately deserved their win at Donnybrook last night, Glasgow may be forgiven for thinking they had missed out on an opportunity to test the nerve of the Irish side.

That seemed to be the view of both coaches, as Matt Williams of Leinster admitted to some relief at finishing a match against Scottish opposition with a comfortable lead, while Richie Dixon, his Glasgow counterpart, reckoned his men had only themselves to blame for the margin of defeat.

''We've played against Scottish sides four times before and I've felt in control of those matches for long period, yet we had won only one of them,'' Williams observed.

''However, competing against them is very important for us, rather than merely facing other Irish provinces whom we know so well, ahead of Europe.

''Everyone under-estimates the Scottish sides, but we know the brand of rugby they are trying to play and four or five games from now they are going to be very difficult to beat.''

Naturally, though, Dixon was more impatient regarding the way his men failed to capitalise fully on some promising play.

''We lacked patience,'' he said. ''We were up against a tremendous display of kicking from Brian O'Meara. However, when we had the ball, we were forcing the game too much, perhaps because of the 18 points they had kicked.''

He had watched his men recover from having to defend desperately in the early stages to score the only try of the first half and threaten to mount a serious challenge to upset their hosts on this first night of Celtic League rugby.

It was a well taken score after Gordon Simpson, whose pilfering was his side's main source of possession for much of the first half, stole ball at the tail of a lineout and found excellent support from Jon Petrie and Steve Griffiths, whose pass released Andy Nicol down the right touchline.

That was followed by a Tommy Hayes penalty that nudged Glasgow ahead, but O'Meara's consistency in front of goal ensured that Leinster were infront at the interval, albeit by just a point after Hayes put over a second penalty with the last kick of the half.

A disastrous third quarter saw Glasgow's hopes slip away, though.

Just as in the opener, they began by presenting O'Meara with two penalty chances in the first five minutes and he took full advantage.

''Those two kicks after the interval gave them breathing space and then two turn-overs gave them 14 points and the game was over,'' said a frustrated Dixon, having watched his men concede two tries in a three minute spell which took the match beyond them.

In truth, though, Leinster first score was particularly well worked as they forced their visitors onto the defensive for a lengthy spell, with wave after wave of attacks, before their persistence at point blank range was rewarded, Adam Magro slipped a tackle to create the opening for Girvan Dempsey to slide in.

The killer score was the result of McLaren's failure to hang onto possession as he attempted to launch an attack, Andy Dunne retrieved the loose ball and broke down the left, before releasing D'Arcy, who stumbled through Graeme Kiddie's last gasp challenge but was not held and recovered to clamber over the line.

Thereafter, Glasgow had, if anything, the better of both possession and territorial advantage and Simpson, the player who most deserved to get his name on the scoresheet, came closest to getting over five minutes before the end, bursting through a close range lineout but being hauled down inches short.

Leinster had, though, done more than enough to deserve a comfortable win and, after soaking up that long spell of pressure, broke out of defence as the game entered injury time for Dunne to once again demonstrating his pace, breaking clear to seal the win.

Even without their recent Lions tourists, Brian O'Driscoll and Malcolm O'Kelly, Leinster demonstrated just how hard they will be to overcome. The victory was built on the goal-kicking of Brian O'Meara, who put over nine of 10 attempts, yet, while it took them more than 50 minutes to cross the try-line, Leinster always looked the stronger side.

Glasgow, meanwhile, must consider just why it is that they cannot maintain their composure and seem to keep having to re-learn the same lessons the hard way ahead of next week's visit to Hughenden of Ulster.

Leinster G Dempsey; D Hickie, A Magro, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; A Dunne, B O'Meara; R Corrigan, S Byrne, P Coyle, B Casey, L Cullen, T Brennan, K Gleeson, V Costello

Glasgow G Kiddie; J Steel, J McLaren (J Stuart 67), A Henderson, R Kerr (I McInroy 72); T Hayes, A Nicol (C Black 79); D Hilton, G Bulloch (G Scott 52-60), L Harrison (C Blades 56), S Griffiths (N Ross 63), J White, G Simpson, D Macfadyen, J Petrie

Scoring sequence (Leinster first): 3-0, 6-0,

6-3, 6-8, 9-8, 12-8, 12-11(half-time); 15-11, 18-11, 25-11, 32-11, 39-11

Scorers Leinster, Tries Dempsey, Darcy, Dunne. Cons O'Meara 3. Pens O'Meara 6. Glasgow, Tries Nicol. Pens Hayes 2.

Referee P Adams (Wales)

Attendance 4,500