Ireland star Gordon D'Arcy came off the bench to inspire Leinster to victory in a hard-fought match in damp conditions at the Arms Park last night. It was a dour match, sparked only by a try after 41 seconds to Leinster centre David Quinlan and a late effort from visiting fullback Girvan Dempsey after a break from D'Arcy, who had just arrived on to the field.
To make matters worse for Blues coach David Young, Wales star Tom Shanklin left the field with a knee injury and fly-half Lee Thomas left clutching his shoulder as the Arms Park side's massive injury list continues to grow. The cultured boot of Argentinian Felipe Contepomi kept the Blues on the back foot for much of the game in front of 3,300 wet fans. From the kick-off, Leinster regained possession and Quinlan crashed over under the upright after Contepomi had made a mockery of the Blues' defence and produced a perfectly weighted chip for the big centre to run on to.
Leinster dominated the opening quarter, with only the slippery ball preventing further scoring against a shell-shocked Blues side. After 20 minutes of pounding the Blues line without crossing it, Leinster opted for the easy points and Contepomi's penalty goal raised the flags, despite looking like it had drifted wide.
Thomas, who is being coached by Wales legend Neil Jenkins, kicked a 40-metre goal Jenkins would have been proud of, but failed with a second attempt as Leinster went into the halftime break with a deserved 10-3 lead. The rain became heavier in the second half as the Blues fought to stay in touch on the scoreboard. Thomas added a second penalty goal to make it a four-point game after the Leinster backs were caught offside for the umpteenth time, and Byrne began to struggle with his accuracy at the lineouts.
A frustrated Kidney sent D'Arcy on - with immediate results. The talented centre returned a Blues kick with interest, handing off one would-be tackler and drawing the final defender before offloading to Dempsey for the match-clinching try.
Pens - L Thomas 2
Tries - D Quinlan, G Dempsey
Pen - F Contepomi
Con - F Contepomi
Halftime: Leinster 10-3
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland) Crowd: 3,300