Magners League: Dragons 16-26 Leinster

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton scored 16 points for Leinster at Rodney Parade.

Leinster boosted their bid for a Magners League play-off place with a hard-fought win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The hosts led 13-10 at the break and threatened throughout, but Leinster proved equal to the challenge.

Adam Hughes scored the opening try and Jason Tovey scored the rest of the Dragons' points with his boot.

Isaac Boss went over for Leinster, who were also awarded a penalty try while Jonathan Sexton kicked 16 points.

Leinster are now tied on 55 points with the Ospreys and Ulster, but their win pushed the Welsh region into fourth place courtesy of the Dublin-based side - and Ulster - having won 12 games to the Liberty Stadium team's 11.

The visitors were ahead through Sexton's early penalty when Aled Brew's tackle on Luke Fitzgerald gave the hosts their chance to create the opening half's highlight.

The impact forced the ball from Fitzgerald's grasp and flanker Joe Bearman scooped the ball off the floor to send Adam Hughes on a 65-metre run to the line.

In doing so the centre, who has also played on the wing, outpaced Leinster wing Shane Horgan for Tovey to convert.

Fly-half Tovey added the conversion and a penalty to give the hosts a 10-3 lead.

Leinster fought back as their forwards battered their way to the home line where scrum-half Isaac Boss forced the ball on to the whitewash for a try Sexton converted.

But Tovey ensured the Dragons held the lead at the break with his second penalty of the half after 28 minutes.

Sexton levelled three minutes after the break and his kicking duel with Tovey continued.

Hughes was unable to stretch out far enough to get the ball over the line as he sought another try.

But play was brought back by Scottish referee Andy MacPherson to a penalty that Tovey converted from wide out.

The contest began to turn Leinster's way when Brew was sin-binned for a rash trip on Isa Nacewa after the full-back kicked ahead.

Brew's 48th-minute sin-binning was followed by a series of offences by the home side that led MacPherson to award the visitors a penalty try.

Leinster had the Dragons under all sorts of pressure at a series of close-range scrums and the referee's patience finally ran out after the hosts fell offside at the last of them and Sexton converted.

Brew was to blame again as he fluffed a great chance, spilling the ball after Toby Faletau broke away and Sexton then rubbed salt into the wound by kicking his fourth penalty to put 10 points between the sides.

Leinster flanker was sin-binned with nine minutes remaining for failing to roll away from a tackle.

The visitors had their chance to kill off the Dragons hopes while the hosts continued to attack with ball in hand at virtually every opportunity.

But even a man short, Leinster were able to hold out for a deserved win.

NG Dragons: M Thomas; Harries, Hughes, Riley, A Brew; Tovey, W Evans; Price, Burns, Way, Charteris, A Jones, Bearman, L Evans, Faletau.Replacements: M Jones for W. Evans (70), Gustafson for Price (54), S Jones for Burns (60), Castle for Way (63).Not Used: Brown, Coombs, Pewtner, J Evans.

Leinster: Nacewa; Horgan, O'Malley, McFadden, Fitzgerald; J Sexton, Boss, van der Merwe, Strauss, Wright, Cullen, Toner, McLaughlin, D. Ryan, R Ruddock.Replacements: D Kearney for Horgan (61), Dundon for Strauss (75), Shawe for Wright (66), Hines for Toner (53), Heaslip for R. Ruddock (53).Not Used: McGrath, Reddan, Madigan.

Att: 4,500

Ref: Andy MacPherson (Scotland).

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