Leinster show Celtic strength

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The Independent Online

The Leinster coach, Matt Williams, described his side's 40-10 Heineken Cup victory over Toulouse as the perfect response to critics of the Celtic League. All four Irish provinces romped through the qualifying phase of the fledgling competition, but the worth of the tri-nation club tournament was questioned in some sections when Ireland were beaten by Scotland in the Six Nations last weekend.

Williams saw the internationals in his side respond by running in four tries past the French champions in their opening European game at Donnybrook on Friday night, Rob Henderson grabbing two of them. "Anyone who criticised the Celtic League must be walking backwards now," said Williams. "We've put 40 points on against a great side like Toulouse. We're very pleased and very proud. But it's only a start, and we won't be popping any corks yet."

Williams praised Leinster's brave work in defence as Toulouse tried in vain to get back into the game after trailing 26-3 at half-time. The French side scored a try but failed to make any further inroads. The Australian coach added: "The defence was first- class. Toulouse were a very big side with heaps and heaps of pace. But we felt if we moved them round the ring, as it were, we'd be all right. If we went toe to toe with them we knew we'd lose, but we boxed pretty smart tonight."

Meanwhile the frustrated Glasgow coach, Richie Dixon, called for a shake-up in the law of the game which allows players to form a human ladder to block penalties. He hit out after the streetwise French international Olivier Magne was hoisted more than 12 feet into the air to parry away the long-range effort by James McLaren which would have claimed the glory against Montferrand.

Dixon declared after the dramatic and controversial 19-19 draw at Hughenden: "There is nothing to stop it being done under the current law, but obviously I would like to see it looked at. After all, the object of a penalty at goal is for a player to kick the ball over the bar – and James was achieving that. The whole thing was very disappointing, but in reality we didn't put enough daylight between ourselves and Montferrand when we had the chances."

Tommy Hayes had looked like earning the Warriors all the glory with a series of pressure kicks and a late and crucial try. It came when Montferrand's American substitute Kevin Dalzell miscued a clearance straight into the arms of Hayes, who was unstoppable. He completed the job by slotting the conversion.

Gerald Merceron pulled back three points with his fourth penalty as Glasgow were reduced to 13 men by the sin-binnings of Hayes and substitute Jon Stuart. Then he converted Olivier Magne's touchdown to level the match.

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