If we get more of the same when Wales open their Six Nations title defense in Dublin on Sunday, it promises to be another cracker.
Ross Byrne’s immaculate boot looked to have won the game in the 75th minute with a penalty that made defending champions URC 27-26.
However, there was another twist in the story in the last game, a high tackle on a Cardiff player gave the hosts, through Jarrod Evans, the chance to win and he was the hero.
It was Cardiff’s first time beating Leinster since February 2011 and ended a run of 16 consecutive defeats.
Leinster’s outside half had been immaculate with their boot all night and duly netted the 75th-minute wide-angle goal that came just after the home side regained the lead. Fearless and without nerves.
It was a cruel end for Leo Cullen’s men who had arrived hoping to take over after the Ospreys beat Edinburgh earlier in the day.
The Blue and Blacks have entered this one without a win since October 23, and missing six of their eight Welsh squad members. Wayne Pivac released front row pair Rhys Carre and Dillon Lewis to get a few extra minutes under their belt, although Dai Young threw them to the bench.
Will Connors, Rhys Ruddock and Byrne were also released by Irish boss Andy Farrell and it was the latter who kicked the scoring in the third minute when he punished a home striker for putting his hands in the pot at cookies during a breakdown at 38 meters. from the posts.
His counterpart Evans leveled things midway through the first half with a 35-yard penalty and then kicked perfectly into the hands of Owen Lane. The Wales international winger grabbed the ball from the Leinster 10-yard line and showed a clean pair of heels at three chasers as he scored the game’s first try.
Evans added the extras, but then Adam Byrne copied Lane sprinting clearly for instant response. Ross Byrne converted and everything was square again. Ben Thomas then added an offside penalty and it was 13-10 at the break.
Evans hit his HIA and came back for the second half and he extended the lead with two more penalties to put the visitors on the back foot. The arrival of James Tracy added further momentum to Leinster’s forward effort and it was the replacement hooker who claimed the try from close range after Botham was sent to the sin-bin.
Ross Byrne’s conversion made it a two-run game and then No. 8 Scott Penny went over for another try converted by Byrne to put the champions ahead. It wasn’t over though and Hallam Amos ran in a second try which Evans converted to beat Cardiff up front again, but Byrne then hit the mark with a 75th-minute penalty to seemingly win the game.
It wasn’t, however, Evans had the last laugh with the game’s final kick and the Welsh were singing.
Try – O Lane, H Amos; Disadvantages – J Evans 2; Pens – J Evans 3, B Thomas.
Essays – A Byrne, J Tracy, S Penny; Disadvantages – R Byrne 3; Pen – R Byrne.
H Amos; O Lane, R Lee-Lo, B Thomas (M Llewellyn 67), A Summerhill; J Evans (G Smith 28-40), L Williams; C Domachowski, (R Square 51) K Myhil (E Daniel 67), D Arhip (D Lewis 51, J Turnbull (captain), R Thornton (T Williams 58), S Lewis-Hughes, W Boyde (S Moore 41), J. Botham.
J O’Brien (T O’Brien 54); A Byrne, J Osbourne (H Byrne 64), C Frawley, R O’Loughlin; R Byrne, L McGrath (captain); E Byrne (P Dooley54), S Cronin (J Tracy 48), M Ala’alatoa, D Toner (R Molony 54), J McCarthy, R Ruddock, W Connors (M Deegan 30), S Penny.
Mike Adamson (SRU).