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The rugby season is back in earnest, and the PRO14 champions’ defence got off to a great start at Cardiff Arms Park.

With a Champions Cup also in tow, Leinster would have fancied their chances on Friday night, even if a trip to Wales didn’t look appealing at this early stage.

Cardiff powered into the lead, with a Jarrod Evans penalty being followed by a Rey Lee-Lo try after ten minutes. The Samoan ran over, picking up a quick ball from the aforementioned Evans.

Leinster responded with penalties from Ross Byrne and Fergus McFadden, either side of a James Tracy try (which needed a long TMO consultation) before the half hour mark to go 11-8 ahead.

Despite another Byrne penalty, the home side took the half time lead with a Jason Harries try. More quick passing down the right flank allowed the Welshman to run at the line, dodging two tackles in the process.

Cardiff had the run of possession so far, and that trend continued in the second half, in which they initially kicked on. As did Harries.

The wing again brushed off Leinster tackles to go over, making a 25-yard run for a 22-14 lead following an Evans conversion.

Lee-Lo then got his second, having been found by Seb Davies in yards of space on the flank, with the champions now facing down the barrel of a 15 point deficit.

Bryan Byrne came off the bench to begin Leinster’s comeback. Their maul went over the line, capped off by Byrne, though his namesake Ross missed the conversion.

A converted try from Jamison Gibson-Park right next to the posts made it a three point game with 13 minutes left.

Evans kicked over to re-establish a six point lead, but that advantage lasted just five minutes, with Bryan Byrne getting his second try just minutes from time. The resulting kick edged Leo Cullen’s side one ahead, and they just held on through added time to gain a victory at the death away from home.

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