Sexton shows steady hand as Leinster stay on right track
LEINSTER 26 SCARLETS 15
Published 05/03/2011 | 05:00
JONNY Sexton showed he can vary his game quite nicely as Leinster kept their Magners League campaign on track with another win.
Joe Schmidt's side never really clicked against the Scarlets, but they did more than enough to see themselves home. They haven't secured a bonus point since the Six Nations began, but they are up to second after seeing off one of the chasing pack.
After being dropped from the Ireland team, Sexton and Fergus McFadden made strong claims for their international inclusion, with the fly-half exerting control with the ball from hand and making all of his placed kicks. McFadden impressed at inside centre and was the catalyst for both of the hosts' tries.
It was the Blues who made the breakthrough, with Niall Morris touching down. Isa Nacewa kicked the hosts into position and McFadden carried well, before the duo combined to feed Morris, who powered over for his third try of the campaign.
Sexton added the conversion and, after Rhys Priestland missed a penalty, the Ireland fly-half pinned the Welshmen back with his kicking from hand.
He added a penalty to make the score 10-0, but Leinster failed to kick on. Leo Cullen was forced off, but the injury wasn't serious and he's expected to be available for Ireland's clash with Wales next week.
Scarlets scored before the break as Priestland opened his account with a penalty. Sexton cancelled that out three minutes into the second half. He then added a more difficult kick to extend the lead.
Leinster went on the attack from a '22' drop-out, with Devin Toner leaping to collect and McFadden kicking over the top. The Scarlets again killed the ball and Sexton made it 19-3.
The visitors hit back with a deserved try. With Rhys Ruddock just back on his feet after a head injury, Ben Morgan picked from a scrum and drove at his opposite number. Held up just shy of the line, Rhys Thomas buried over to score. Priestland added the extras.
McFadden surprised everyone by tapping a kickable penalty and after Gareth Maule killed the ball on the line, he was sent to the sin bin and the Blues took the scrum.
They drove the Welshmen back and Isaac Boss ploughed over. Sexton converted and although Nick Reynolds crossed for a late try, the result wasn't in doubt.
LEINSTER -- I Nacewa; N Morris, E O'Malley, F McFadden, D Kearney (D Riordan 71); J Sexton, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss (J Harris-Wright 75), S Wright (S Shawe 64); L Cullen (Capt) (N Hines 28), D Toner; K McLaughlin, D Ryan (P Ryan 75), R Ruddock.
SCARLETS -- D Newton (D Evans 72); G North, R King, G Maule (capt), J Ajuwa (N Reynolds 51); R Priestland, T Knoyle (G Davies 51); R Jones; R Lawrence (K Myhill 72), R Thomas; L Reed, A Shlinger; R McCusker, J Turnbull (J Edwards 57), B Morgan.
Ref -- A McPherson (SRU).