United Rugby Championship: Leinster remain unbeaten after 22-22 draw with Stormers

Michael Milne barges through for a Leinster try
Michael Milne barges through for a Leinster try
Leinster (5) 22
Tries: Milne, Penny, Russell, Deegan Con: Byrne
Stormers (17) 22
Tries: Libbok, Hartzenberg, Blommetjies Cons: Libbok 2 Pen: Libbok

Leinster will be top seeds in the URC play-offs, despite their 19-game winning run ending in a dramatic draw with second-placed Stormers in Dublin.

Manie Libbok and Suleiman Hartzenberg scored for the visitors in the first half, with the hosts responding with a try from prop Michael Milne.

Leinster almost completed a comeback success, with Scott Penny, Rob Russell and Max Deegan crossing.

Stormers, though, hit back with a Clayton Blommetjies try to level.

The powerful visiting side arrived in Dublin with their contingent of South African players, while Leo Cullen’s team were missing a number of their Ireland representatives, who were injured or rested in preparation for the Champions Cup clash with Ulster next weekend.

Fly-half Libbok had a hand in all of Stormers’ first-half points, kicking a penalty and then snaking through the Leinster defence for his side’s first try.

Libbok later took advantage of a misplaced pass to sprint clear and pass to Hartzenberg who touched down for the defending champions as they led 17-0.

Despite a frustrating first half littered with uncharacteristic errors from the hosts, their patience in attack was rewarded with a try from Milne just before half-time to keep his side within touching distance.

Although they were in the unfamiliar position of trailing at the break, the Irish province were soon in the ascendancy.

Penny used Leinster’s powerful line-out maul as a launchpad to propel himself over the try line and reduce his side’s deficit further.

Russell scored Leinster’s third try of the night following a midfield mix-up from Stormers, which the hosts did well to capitalise on, turning defence into attack. The conversion went wide from Byrne on a difficult night for kickers.

A further try from Deegan looked to have secured a remarkable victory, but the Stormers hit back within minutes.

A clever cross-kick was finished by Blommetjies to set the game up for a dramatic finale.

A Harry Byrne penalty ricocheted off the post in the dying moments, resulting in the draw and a blemish on Leinster’s 100% winning record.

They remain unbeaten in 20 matches, though, and the outcome was probably fair after an enthralling contest.

Leinster: Jordan Larmour; Rob Russell, Liam Turner, Ciarán Frawley, Dave Kearney; Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath; Michael Milne, John McKee, Michael Ala’alatoa; Ross Molony, Jason Jenkins; Rhys Ruddock (capt), Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Lee Barron, Ed Byrne, Vakhtang Abdaladze, Brian Deeny, Will Connors, Nick McCarthy, Charlie Tector, Ben Brownlee.

Stormers: Clayton Blommetjies; Suleiman Hartzenberg, Dan du Plessis, Damian Willemse, Seabelo Senatla; Manie Libbok, Paul de Wet; Steven Kitshoff (capt), Joseph Dweba, Frans Malherbe; Ruben van Heerden, Marvin Orie; Deon Fourie, Ben-Jason Dixon, Hacjivah Dayimani.

Replacements: JJ Kotze, Brok Harris, Neethling Fouche, Ernst van Rhyn, Willie Engelbrecht, Marcel Theunissen, Herschel Jantjies, Jean-Luc du Plessis.

BBC News

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