RaboDirect Pro 12: Connacht 13-15 Leinster
Connacht (3) 13
- O'Halloran, Reynecke
Leinster (9) 15
- Nacewa 5
Isa Nacewa's five penalties gave Leinster a RaboDirect PRO12 win over provincial rivals Connacht in Galway.
A Matthew Jarvis penalty put Connacht ahead but three Nacewa kicks gave the leaders a 9-3 lead at the break.
Tiernan O'Halloran went over for a Connacht try between two further Nacewa penalties, while Leinster pair Issac Boss and Leo Cullen were sinbinned.
Ethienne Reynecke charged over to close the gap to two but Miah Nikora missed the conversion and a late drop-goal.
Gunning for their first win in 12 outings, Connacht showed early signs of intent in front of a league-record crowd of 6,582 at the Sportsground.
The best move came when an in-form O'Halloran split open the Leinster defence on an eye-catching counter-attack.
Jarvis, a late inclusion in the starting line-up, missed his first shot at the posts in the sixth minute and was wayward from further out five minutes later.
But the young out-half was then successful with a 35-metre effort, punishing Leinster for bringing down a maul illegally.
Leinster were quick to respond, drawing a ruck infringement from John Muldoon which resulted in Nacewa slotting over his first penalty.
Another sweetly-struck kick into the wind from Nacewa, this time from 38 metres out, moved Joe Schmidt's men in front despite Connacht controlling much of the play.
Defences were on top in the period leading up to half-time and it took a muscular drive from Rhys Ruddock to tee up Nacewa's third penalty.
Backchat led to referee John Lacey moving the penalty into kickable range and the full-back managed to squeeze his attempt inside the left-hand post.
The Leinster pack built some momentum before the break, however an important steal by Ronan Loughney helped the home side clear the danger.
Connacht were back on the defensive in the early part of the second half, Nacewa maintaining his impressive form with a precise 49th-minute kick.
The arm wrestle up front continued, with a number of promising phases strangled into submission by the sheer force of the tackling.
The sin-binning of Boss for interfering with Frank Murphy's pass from a midfield ruck gave Connacht a chance to hit back - and they duly did with O'Halloran getting over.
A string of quick passes created the space on the right with Jarvis putting O'Halloran over just moments after fellow winger Brian Tuohy was stretchered off.
The try was unconverted though, and Nacewa soon struck his fifth penalty goal of the night to move the league leaders 15-8 clear.
But Connacht stuck doggedly to their task and with Cullen carded for taking out a lifter at a five-metre lineout, Reynecke charged over off a subsequent maul.
Nikora slipped as he tried to convert from a right-sided position and agonisingly the New Zealander had the accuracy but not the distance when attempting that drop-goal at the death.
Connacht: Duffy, Tuohy, Griffin, Tonetti, O'Halloran, Jarvis, O'Donohoe, Wilkinson, Flavin, Loughney, Naoupu, McCarthy, Kearney, J. O'Connor, Muldoon.
Replacements: Fa'afili for Tuohy (57), Nikora for Griffin (66), F. Murphy for O'Donohoe (45), Reynecke for Flavin (57), Rogers for Loughney (57).
Not Used: Buckley, McKeown, Anderson.
Leinster: Nacewa, D. Kearney, O'Malley, Macken, Conway, Madigan, Boss, J. McGrath, Strauss, Hagan, Cullen, Browne, R. Ruddock, Jennings, Auva'a.
Replacements: van der Merwe for J. McGrath (63), Cronin for Strauss (59), White for Hagan (57), Toner for Browne (71).
Not Used: Murphy, Cooney, Fitzgerald, Carr.
Ref: John Lacey (Ireland).