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This is what the Celtic League is about – for the visiting Welsh fan at least. A fast paced, high impact match with bags of excitement was the perfect start of weekend of Welsh-Irish rugby field battles.
The visiting Warriors pulled away in the end, but it was a match crammed with action that could have gone either way until Lyn Howells’ men turned up the gas.
In the end the Celtic Warriors completed a home-and-away double over Leinster at Donnybrook, as they outscored their hosts by four tries to one in the 37-16 win.
Tries from left wing Richard Mustoe, scrum-half Sililo Martens and centre Shaun James provided the platform for outside-half Neil Jenkins to convert all three and add a hat-trick of penalties before Jon Bryant grabbed a bonus score in injury time.
The Leinster outside-half went wide and right with an early penalty attempt from the Warriors’ 10-metre line before Mustoe touched down under Gary Brown’s challenge for his second league try after seven minutes, set up by centre partner Bryant.
Jenkins continued his peerless form with the touchline conversion before the visitors played it on the deck near their own line and Felipe Contepomi knocked over a 12th-minute penalty reply.
The 26-year-old South American showed a quick turn of pace to intercept a Bryant pass to race from his own 22 to score. He converted for a 10-7 lead three minutes later.
Martens went under the Leinster posts on 17 minutes for a converted score as Warriors’ pressure begun to take its hold.
Contepomi hit over his third and fourth successes on 24 and 27 minutes respectively to put Leinster in front for the second time, but the Welsh wrangled the half-time lead back with a close-range penalty from Jenkins.
Bryant ghosted through a midfield gap to see James over seven minutes after the restart to extend their lead as Leinster consistently coughed up ball with the Warriors line in sight.
Jenkins landed his third penalty on 69 minutes for a 27-16 lead, and his fourth after replacement Brian O’Meara had tackled Martens without the ball with six minutes remaining.
Bryant’s injury-time score saw the Glamorgan men glean their seventh bonus point of the tournament, pushing them into the top four with Jenkins’ fourth conversion.