Tuesday 17 October 2017

Leinster run riot to rout the Scarlets

LEINSTER 42 SCARLETS 12

Rob Kearney, Leinster. Guinness PRO12, Round 2, Leinster v Scarlets. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Rob Kearney, Leinster. Guinness PRO12, Round 2, Leinster v Scarlets. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Jamie Heaslip, Leinster, is tackled by Johan Snyman, Scarlets. Guinness PRO12, Round 2, Leinster v Scarlets. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ian Madigan, Leinster, goes over to score his side's fourth try. Guinness PRO12, Round 2, Leinster v Scarlets. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Rob Kearney, Leinster, runs in to score his side's first try of the game. Guinness PRO12, Round 2, Leinster v Scarlets. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Ruaidhri O'Connor at the RDS

LEINSTER rolled out some of their heavy artillery for their second Guinness Pro12 outing of the season and they had little trouble blowing the Scarlets away this afternoon.

Rob Kearney and Ian Madigan were outstanding as Matt O'Connor's men overcame their opening day defeat at last season's runners-up Glasgow Warriors to put in a far more fluid display and score six tries on a sunny afternoon.

Up front, the return of Jamie Heaslip in particular saw the pack comfortably deal with with the Welsh side's running game, while, behind the scrum, Madigan's deployment in the centre worked wonders as his distribution allowed Kearney to roam free to devastating effect.

The Ireland out-half scored 22 points as he laid down a marker early in the season in front of 16,108 fans at the RDS.

Only a botched Sean Cronin touch-down denied the champions a deserved bonus point by half-time as they blew the visitors away with an impressive running game.

Rhys Priestland missed an early penalty chance, before Kearney went over for the first of his first-half double after nine minutes.

The superb Heaslip stopped Rory Pitman, so devastating in contact against Ulster last week, in his tracks before Mike Ross charged down Scott Williams' clearing kick. Leinster recovered the ball, Kearney scythed through a gap to get the Scarlets scrambling and, a couple of phases later, Madigan's quick hands freed Brendan Macken who drew the last defender and put the full-back over.

Madigan converted from the touchline, but the Llanelli side struck back as Scott Williams pounced on an error.

While elements of the backline were purring, fly-half Jimmy Gopperth was enduring a tough time and his poor pass allowed Scott Williams in for a try as the centre hacked the loose ball through and, although Macken won the race to the line, the Wales star used his body well to get the all-important touchdown.

Priestland was once again wayward with the kick to draw level but the Scarlets kept the pressure up, only for Heaslip to steal a lineout on Leinster's 5m line, before Dominic Ryan forced a penalty so Leinster could clear.

That led to a slick Madigan pass releasing Kearney up the right, he chipped despite having Darragh Fanning and Zane Kirchner inside, but profited from his chase as Fanning contested with Rhodri Williams who couldn't gather and the Lion pounced.

Madigan nailed his second conversion, before getting in on the try-scoring himself as Gopperth spotted a gaping overlap and threw the skip-pass to the inside centre who trotted over and converted himself.

It should have been wrapped up by the half-time whistle when Heaslip broke and put Cronin away, but Scarlets full-back Gareth Owen's intervention forced Cronin to knock on and they went in 21-5 up at half-time.

The home faithful didn't have to wait too long to have all five points secured as the pack turned the screw at the scrum and lineout to eventually see Phil John sin-binned for taking Kevin McLaughlin out in the air.

Captain Heaslip went for the scrum and carried twice himself, before Madigan rounded John Barclay to score and, again, convert.

That gave  O'Connor the chance to give his bench a run and Cian Healy didn't take long to demolish the Scarlets' scrum to put Leinster on the front-foot again and, although Macken was caught before the line, Dominic Ryan touched down.

Old Belvedere fly-half Steve Crosbie joined Clontarf's Mick McGrath - who came in for the injured Kirchner - in making his debut for the province who almost passed the 40 points mark when but for Ben Marshall spilling Eoin Reddan's pass over the line after good work from Fanning and Crosbie.

Try number six arrived in due time, though, as the Scarlets checked out early and Tadhg Furlong pounced on a loose Bryan Bryne off-load to score his first try for the province.

Things almost got even worse for the visitors as McGrath set up Macken who should have passed to Heaslip, but was caught himself before slack play allowed Ryan hack through only for Harry Robinson to beat him to the chase.

Man of the match Heaslip got an early bath after a deliberate slap-down in the closing stages and the Scarlets took advantage with Emyr Phillips crossing for a consolation which Steven Shlinger converted as the full-time whistle sounded.

LEINSTER -- R Kearney (S Crosbie 60); Z Kirchner (M McGrath 31), B Macken, I Madigan, D Fanning; J Gopperth, Isaac Boss (E Reddan 54); J McGrath (C Healy 54), S Cronin (B Byrne 67), M Ross (T Furlong 63), D Toner (B Marshall 54), M McCarthy, D Ryan, S Jennings (K McLaughlin h-t), J Heaslip (capt).

SCARLETS -- G Owen (G Davies 68); H Robinson, A Warren, S Williams, J Williams; R Priestland (S Shingler 71), R Williams (A Davies 55); P John (R Pitman 62), K Owens (capt) (E Phillips 71), R Jones (P Evans 71), J Ball (R Kelly 72), J Snyman, A Shingler (R McCusker 67), J Barclay, R Pitman (R Evans 52).

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy)

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