Pro14: Cardiff Blues 32-33 Leinster
|Guinness Pro14: Cardiff Blues v Leinster|
|Cardiff Blues (15) 32|
|Tries: Lee-Lo 2, Harries 2 Cons: J Evans 3 Pens: J Evans 2|
|Leinster (14) 33|
|Tries: Tracy, B Byrne 2, Gibson-Park Cons: R Byrne 2 Pens: R Byrne 2, McFadden|
Two tries from replacement hooker Bryan Byrne helped title holders Leinster battle back from 29-14 down to beat Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.
Tries from Rey Lee-lo and Jason Harries gave Blues the edge in the first half
James Tracy went over for Leinster's opener and after Lee-lo and Harries added two more, the visitors took the initiative as Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park crossed.
Byrne's second, decisive try came as Leinster's late pressure paid off.
Home fly-half Jarrod Evans had an outstanding game as he orchestrated the hosts' attack in a four-try display that helped them earn two losing bonus points.
He was also impressive with the boot, kicking the opening points - one of five successful shots at goal.
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But even he was outshone by opposite number Ross Byrne, whose expert guidance brought Leinster back into contention as as they secured a winning bonus point.
There was also a memorable opening try of the Pro14 season as a burst of pace and power paved the way for centre Lee-Lo to burst clear.
Byrne hit back with Leinster's first penalty and after hooker Tracy powered over to level with a try awarded with the involvement of video ref Jon Mason, McFadden put the visitors ahead to punish a Blues indiscretion.
Harries, a summer recruit from Edinburgh, touched down after another sweeping Blues attack.
Evans converted and Byrne brought Leinster back to within a point at the break with his second successful penalty kick.
Blues regained the initiative soon after the break as left wing Owen Lane came in field to make the space that allowed Matthew Morgan to set Harries free for his second touchdown.
Evans again converted and soon added another as Lee-Lo strolled over after Lane stretched the visitors' defence down the left flank.
Leinster's pack stormed forward from a line-out to allow replacement hooker Byrne the chance to touch down, but the try went unconverted to leave the hosts 10 points ahead.
The visitors took a big chunk out of that lead as their perseverance paid off when Gibson-Park stretched out his arm to score.
Evans soon eased home nerves soon after with a penalty, but as Leinster's momentum gathered, Bryan Byrne made the most of his chances to touch down and Ross Byrne converted both his tries, the last giving Leinster their narrow win.
Blues coach John Mulvihill told BBC Sport Wales:
"I told the boys I was very proud of their performance.
"I wanted them to leave everything out there, which they did, but there are fine margins when you play against leading teams.
"We're disappointed. We've got to learn from that."
Cardiff Blues: M Morgan; J Harries, W Halaholo, R Lee-Lo, O Lane; J Evans, L Williams; B Thyer, K Dacey, D Arhip, S Davies, R Thornton, J Turnbull, E Jenkins (capt), N Williams.
Replacements: R Gill, E Lewis, S Andrews, G Earle, O Robinson, T Williams, S Shingler, G Smith.
Leinster: D Kearney; A Byrne, R O'Loughlin, J Tomane, B Daly; R Byrne, L McGrath; P Dooley, J Tracy, M Bent. R Moloney, S Fardy, J Murphy, R Ruddock, C Doris.
Replacements: B Byrne, E Byrne, A Porter, M Kearney, M Deegan, J Gibson-Park, N Reid, F McFadden.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (WRU). Gwyn Morris (WRU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)
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